How to Get Your First Clients for Your Online Business (Even on a Small Budget)


Short on time? Why not download an e-book version (plus free worksheets!) and save it for later to read or simply to refer back to as you implement the strategies!


The top question I get from my community and clients is ‘How do I get my first clients?’

That was my top question too when I started my own coaching business online. 

Let me guess… You’ve created your first website, set up your Facebook page, Instagram account (and perhaps Twitter too) and started posting on social media, written your ‘work with me’ page on your website listing your services… and maybe even started blogging.

And you’re waiting….waiting….waiting… One month goes by, and another few months pass and you are still looking for that first paying client!

Or you may have got lucky and secured your first client (Congratulations!) but then a few weeks gone by, or even months and you are still looking for your next client. 

If that’s you, you are not alone! Welcome to the world of online business :) We’ve all been there.

If you are a complete newbie to the online business world, and you don’t know what the heck I was talking about above, it’s your lucky day today! Because I will be sharing some great tips and advice on how to get your first paying clients and you hopefully get to skip the entire situation I mentioned above, which many aspiring online entrepreneurs go through (including myself).

Now, obviously it’s completely up to you HOW you’re going to implement these strategies in your business, which will vary how quickly or consistently you can get your first few clients. Remember, each business is unique and we are all different in how we approach things.

All the tips & advice listed here are from my own experience in building my own business (with lots of trial & error) and from observing my own clients and their results. Remember, there’s no magic formula that will make you successful overnight. But it’s definitely possible to run a successful online business with the right action and attitude! 

 
 Business tips: How to get your first clients for your online business (even on a small budget)
 


How to implement the strategies mentioned in this post:

  • You don’t need to implement all of them, all at once. Follow the order of the steps below.

  • I also list the platform and tools I recommend you use to implement each strategy. I also listed the price of each tool if they are not free, so you know exactly how much you’ll be spending and to include them in your budget.  

  • Some strategies may not be relevant to you and your business so you can skip them.

  • Make sure you implement each strategy fully. Don’t start and forget about it and come back to it in a few weeks time. Keep the momentum going and be consistent!

  • Download the e-book version of this post which also comes with a free workbook to help you implement each strategy.

 

Cool with that? Now let’s get down to the business!

 

The Top 3 Mistakes Many People Make:

First things first, let’s discuss top 3 mistakes many people often make when they are starting out in the online business world:  

MISTAKE #1:

Downloading all the freebies in the world and trying to implement everything all at once, but never completing them.

I’m sure we’ve all been there! The problem with most of the freebies out there is that they only share a small piece of information and worth, they only tell you ‘WHAT’ it is that you should be doing and not ‘HOW’ to do things.

My suggestion: Find a blog that teaches you actionable step-by-step strategies or actions that are suitable for the stage you are at in your business. There are different strategies for the different stages of your business. Implementing the right strategies and action for your business is the way to go!   

MISTAKE #2:

Getting sucked in by the clever marketing and sales tactics and believing everything is true - without knowing what is actually going on behind the scenes.

Those people who tell you that they made $10k in 10 days? They could well have spent the same amount of money on ads! You don’t know what their ‘true’ income was in that 10 day period, or whether they are making money on a consistent basis.

My suggestion: Ignore them and focus on you and your business instead! You are not a failure for not making $10k in 10 days or if you are still in your office job 3 months after you launched your business. Trust me. You are not.

MISTAKE #3:

Not providing value to your audience and screaming out ‘Hire me! Hire me! I’m amazing!” in Facebook groups and other social media.

I’ve kinda exaggerated there but I hope you know what I mean! And trust me, I used to do that myself and it really didn’t work.

When I say ‘value’, I don’t mean those little tips on ‘what’ to do you may see in Facebook groups.

My suggestion: If you are going to give ‘value’, make sure it is practical information that people can use to take action and that brings real results.



Phew! Now that I got these out the way, let’s discuss more authentic and effective ways to get your first few clients.

 

STRATEGY #1: GET CLEAR ON YOUR MESSAGE AND YOUR TARGET AUDIENCE

Your message and target audience is something that might evolve over time. So we are not talking about perfecting your message or picking your target audience and sticking to it for the rest of your life. But you must know who you are aiming for and make sure you focus on what they need.

Your Message:

Firstly, ‘your message’ involves the following element:

  • Your tagline / elevator pitch / one-liner / key message / marketing message (people name it differently, but it means the same thing!): This is basically a short sentence explaining what your business is all about – which explains who you are and who you help and sometimes it includes your mission or what you stand for.

  • Your values: What are your values in your life and business? Also what do you value in others? It’s important to make sure that both you and your audience’s values are aligned.

  • Your philosophy: This is your beliefs about your industry, niche and business, what you stand for and your mission.

  • Your story: This is your journey from A to B. Your purpose of starting your own business.

Your tagline is something that you’ll be including in your social media account profiles, as a tagline on your homepage, About Me section on your blog post etc.

Your value, philosophy and story is something you would include in your social media posts, blog posts, podcasts, videos etc. to put your message across to your audience while providing real value.  This is when the right audience will then resonate with you and want to learn more from you. 

In addition, I include these in my welcome email that I deliver when people opt-in to my mail list. It’s a great way to make sure that your new audience is on the same page as you. 

As you can see from the above, your message is formed from a number of key elements – and the chances are that you already know everything we discussed above already. It’s a matter of putting it into words in the way that people can understand and connect to.

 

Having difficulty crafting your message?

As I mentioned above, it’s really a matter of putting all of these elements into words. But because we are exposed to all the marketing messages out there online by people in your niche, it’s so easy to get influenced by that. You may find that you start using their words and phrases which may not sound like you and make you unique.

Try to block out all the noise around you and start writing down whatever comes to your mind. Then ask your partner or friends to have a look at your message. It’s so easy to get stuck in your own world. Find a pair of fresh eyes to look at your message and get some feedback!

 

Identify your Target Audience:

It’s important to narrow down your target audience to make sure that you are “speaking” directly to them. Many people tell you to be VERY specific with your target audience but I don’t necessary agree with that, especially for people who are just starting out.

It’s easier to narrow down your target audience once you’ve written down your values and philosophy because you’ll know exactly who you want to work with, and who you don’t want to work with.

The more you speak to people and gain experience working with your clients, the more you’ll understand and find it easier to define your target audience.   

The best thing you can do when you are starting out is to observe what questions people are asking in different Facebook groups or other forums in your niche. Also delivering free sessions is a great way to understand your potential clients struggles if you are a coach.

 

Recommended Platforms & Tools:  

Platforms: Facebook Groups, Online Forums (free)

Tools: None


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Risa, I also want to hear from you with more online marketing & mindset tips plus the occasional special offer. I know I can unsubscribe anytime if I don't want them anymore!
 

STRATEGY #2: START LOCAL

The Power of Meetup Group:

Now, if you live in the middle of nowhere or if you are building your business while traveling the world, this may not work for you. But for most of us, we start our own business while still working full-time, which means there will be places where we can hang out, network and build an audience.

Meetup.com is a great place to find events, workshops and networking opportunities in your industry and niche. You can also organize your own events and workshops and start teaching your expertise. There is a monthly fee to pay if you want to organize your own events on meetup.com but for me, this was a great way to build my audience initially as a Yoga teacher and a Health Coach (in case you didn’t know, I started as a Health Coach!) and it was totally worth it!

The organizer monthly subscription fee starts from $9.99/ month up to 50 members.

 

What to do once you’ve created your account:

It’s a bit like creating a Facebook group. Basically you create a meet-up group. The name of the group should include keywords related to your niche & topic so people can find your group easily.

There are a couple of things you can do to start building a relationship with your new members. 

 

Send a private message to new members:

Thank them for joining your group and introduce yourself personally. If you are a coach, you could offer a free coaching session or if you are a website designer or freelancer, you could offer a website audit or assessment etc. Or simply send some useful content of yours that is related to the group’s topic. I got many free coaching call bookings from this, so it’s worth trying! I also got my first paying client from it.

Of course they don’t all convert into clients, but I got my most valuable information by speaking to them, which helped me define my message and target audience.  

If you are sending them to your blog for valuable content, make sure you have a content upgrade opt-in form within the post. It’s a great way to build your mail list. You can read more about content upgrade in my blog post ‘How to write a successful blog for your business’.   

 

Organize free and paid events locally in your area:

This is a great way to meet potential clients in person. You may be thinking… ‘Hey but I want to build an online business!’ Trust me, in-person events are great way to grow your audience. It’s also a great way to research your target audience. You don’t need to host an event every week. Once a month is totally fine! You could potentially focus on a different topic each session and get some guest contributors to liven things up.

 

Organize a free live webinar:

Now, meetup.com is designed for organizing in-person events. But you can still organize some online webinars if you have some in-person events organized and listed (so that it doesn’t look like you’ve created an account only to get people to sign up for your online webinars!). It’s a great way to build your mail list too as they’ll be providing their email address when they registered for the webinar.   

 

Things to consider when organizing an event

You’ll need to either book an area in the café/bar or hire a space which may cost you a small fee depends on the venue. A great way to make sure that you cover your costs and also get people to turn up to your event is to charge a small fee for the event.  Make sure you provide great value and so that people will come back for more and who knows, you may have found a potential client!

I also suggest collecting attendees’ email address during the event. Make sure you have something to offer in exchange for their email addresses, for example extra materials from the workshop.

 

Recommended Platforms & Tools:

Platform: Meetup.com ($9.99/month)

Tools I recommend:

Appointment Scheduling Software: I recommend Acuity Scheduling* for new coaches as you can sign up for free or for  $10/month if you prefer to customize to suit your brand and automatic appointment reminders.


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Risa, I also want to hear from you with more online marketing & mindset tips plus the occasional special offer. I know I can unsubscribe anytime if I don't want them anymore!
 

STRATEGY #3: OFFER FREE SESSIONS OR SERVICES

If you are a new coach, offering free coaching session or assessment is a great way to get your first few clients.

However from my experience, many people struggle to actually get bookings… so here are some ideas on how and where to promote.

 

Free Coaching Sessions/Assessment vs. Discovery Calls:

Firstly, I’d like to clarify the difference between ‘free’ coaching or assessment and ‘discovery call’ (or some people call ‘clarity call’)

 

Discovery or Clarity Call:

This is basically a sales call with a fancy name on it. This call is designed for your potential client to find out more about your program. It’s also a great opportunity for you to find out more about your potential client and if she or he is the right fit for your program.

 

Free Session or Assessment:

This is a mini coaching session or assessment where you’ll be helping your potential client with 1 or 2 topics and give some valuable tips and a couple of action steps that they can take forward. Depending on the conversation, you may talk about your program, but this is only if they are interested and want to hear about it.

Here, I’ll be talking about free sessions and assessment rather than discovery call. 

 

How to get your audience to book a free session with you:

  • Name your free session or assessment. For example, ‘health breakthrough’ session or ‘mindset assessment’.

  • Tell them what they are going to take away from the free session or assessment. List them out - I love bullet points!

  • Use questionnaires (to be sent out before the call) -  so that you know a bit of their background beforehand. Also it’s a great way to make sure that you are speaking to people who you can actually help. You can use Typeform which is a really easy way to create a form. Or if you use Acuity Scheduling* to schedule sessions, you can set up a list of questionnaire that people need to answer before they schedule a session with you.

 

Where to promote your free sessions or assessments:

  • Email your mail list.

  • Host a ‘challenge’ and offer free sessions to participants at the end of the challenge.

  • Livestream in your Facebook group or host a live webinar and offer free sessions at the end.

  • Promote it in your Facebook group.

  • Private message new members in the Facebook group to personally welcome them and then offer a free session.

  • On your “Thank You” page after they opt-in to your freebie or content upgrade.

 

A few things to note:

I don’t suggest talking about your program during the initial free session unless they ask about it.

I recommend providing them with actionable steps that they can take in the next few days and arrange a follow up session with them the following week.

Follow up sessions can be used to check in with them to see how they got on with action steps you’ve given them in the initial call. You could then ask them if they’d like hear more about your program and the possibility of working together.

If you deliver a free session right and if they are your ideal client, they could become a paying client. The key here is to provide valuable advice and to build a trusting relationship with them. Be helpful, provide value and they’ll become a client naturally.

 

What if I’m not a coach?

If you are offering other services such as web design/development, social media marketing, done-for-you marketing services etc. I suggest offering some sort of assessment or audit. For example, social media account assessments or a website audit.

 

Recommended Platforms & Tools:

Platforms: Facebook group, Email List, Website (for Thank You page)  

Tools I recommend:

Appointment Scheduling Software: I recommend Acuity Scheduling* for new coaches as you can sign up for free or for  $10/month if you prefer to customize to suit your brand and automatic appointment reminders.

Email Service Provider: ConvertKit* ($29/month up to 1000 contacts)

Survey Form (for questionnaire): Typeform (free)


STRATEGY #4: START BLOGGING

This is my favorite way of getting clients and ultimately the most effective in my opinion! I’ve written a super detailed blog about writing a successful blog for your business which I highly recommend reading.

If you do it right, blogging for your business can be a great way to widen your audience, grow your mail list and ultimately secure more clients.

 

Why Blogging?

Many coaches will tell you that blogs are not where the money is, and that it’s a waste of time. They may also tell you that you should be looking for clients from other people’s Facebook groups or fully focus on growing your own Facebook group. I wholeheartedly disagree with that.

Don’t get me wrong. I love my Facebook group and there are some very friendly and supportive Facebook groups out there. And I do get some clients from my Facebook group too. But I don’t use my Facebook group as a primary platform for securing clients. My blog is. Most people join my group after they have landed one of my blog posts and opted-in to my mail list.

There is another problem with solely focusing on Facebook groups to secure clients. What if the owner of those Facebook groups suddenly shut down their group or decide to stop people in the group from posting their content or promotions? You’ll be left with nothing.

 

5 Reasons to Create a Blog for Your Business

Creating a blog for your business is important for many reasons:

1. It helps build brand awareness and establishes you as an authority in your niche by sharing valuable content with your audience.

2. It can help you reach a new audience (organically) allowing you to grow your mail list.

3. It can help you connect and engage with your audience.

4. It can help increase your website traffic via people searching on internet search engines and hitting your blog page.

5. It can help you build the ‘know-like’ trust factor and ultimately make more sales because they like and trust you.    

Head to my blog on writing a successful blog for your business to get blogging the correct way and grow your audience and get your first few clients!

 

Recommended Platforms & Tools:

Platform: Website. I recommend Squarespace ($26/month)

Email Service Provider & Opt-In Form: ConvertKit* ($29/month up to 1000 contacts)


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Risa, I also want to hear from you with more online marketing & mindset tips plus the occasional special offer. I know I can unsubscribe anytime if I don't want them anymore!
 

STRATEGY #5: GUEST POSTING AND PODCAST INTERVIEWS

Having your article published on a popular blog site or in a major media outlet increases your credibility and is a great way to position yourself as an expert in your niche.

Guest posting and participating in podcast interviews also allows you to share your expertise with other people’s audience.

 

The Power of Guest Posting:

I highly recommend publishing your first article on Huffington Post. The great thing about having your article on Huffington is that when you pitch yourself to other bloggers or media outlets, you’ll get more attention if you mention you are a Huffington Post blogger.  

 

How to Pitch as a Guest Blogger:

It’s so important to do some research first. If you decide to write an article for Huffington, check what your competitors have already published on Huffington. Check out their writing style and the topics they are covering. Make sure your article is unique to you, is interesting and stands out.

Then draft a pitch email to Huffington Post. You don’t need to have your article ready at this point- just a pitch email covering what your article will be about and what it will include.

Your email pitch should cover:

  • Decide on the proposed title of your article – it should be powerful!

  • Your story / background – keep it short but intriguing!

  • Tell them why their readers would be interested in your article.

  • Mention what your article will cover.

 

How to Pitch Yourself as a Podcast Guest:

Many established online entrepreneurs host their own podcast and have a massive audience base. But make sure you do some research first. Think about what type of podcast your target audience would listen to. Don’t just randomly pick a podcast and pitch yourself as a guest.

Your email pitch should cover:

  • A short introduction.

  • What topics you will be able to cover and why they would be valuable for their audience.

  • Your story / background.

  • Where else you’ve been featured. If you haven’t been on any podcasts yet, you can add a link to your guest posts (if you have any) or you can add a link to your own blog posts.

  • Your availability.

  • Your contact information.

 

Recommended Platforms & Tools:

Platform: Other people’s website (free!)


STRATEGY #6: FACEBOOKG GROUPS

You’ll need to complete Strategy #4 to implement this one, as your aim is to share your blog! I used to post in several Facebook groups daily sharing my story, valuable tips, inspirational posts… and it was exhausting. I now leverage other Facebook groups in a different way.

 

How to Leverage Other People’s Facebook Groups:

 

Be supportive and helpful (in a genuine way): Being helpful and supportive is what a Facebook group should be all about. If you find any questions you can answer, comment and help them out. Most Facebook groups allow adding a link to your content in the comment box if it answers their questions. So don’t be shy and provide them with the link to your blog!

BUT, don’t market your business in a way that’s ‘Hey I can help you! Hire me!’.  

 

Leverage ‘promo’ and ‘share’ days: Instead of promoting free sessions, freebies and services, start sharing your blog posts in these threads instead. Not only you are going to provide great value, you will also see increases in your mail list growth if you implement my blog strategies correctly.

Now, to get people to click on your blog post, there are a few things you’ll want to include in the actual post itself – AKA social media message.

 

Be Intriguing. We are all curious, so make your headline intriguing so that people want to read more.

 

Even be controversial! The aim is to get people to click to go to your blog post to read more. Throw in a controversial (but not offensive!) statement so that people will want to read more about it, but make sure that this addressed in your blog – people do not appreciate their time being wasted! And

 

Tell your story. If you have an interesting background that you think will resonate with others – share it! Keep it brief and allow people to find out more by adding a link to your website.

 Business tips: How to get your first clients for your online business (even on a small budget)

The point here is to give people some fresh perspectives on the topic you’ll be talking about. So be unique and be controversial!

 

Recommended Platforms & Tools:

Platform: Facebook group (free!)   


I hope you found this post helpful and by following these simple steps you will be well on the way to securing your first clients!

There is also an e-book version you can download and save it for later to read or simply to refer back as you implement these strategies! The e-book also comes with a free workbook which is designed to help you implement each strategy.


DOWNLOAD YOUR FREE E-BOOK & WORKSHEETS!

 
Name *
Name
Risa, I also want to hear from you with more online marketing & mindset tips plus the occasional special offer. I know I can unsubscribe anytime if I don't want them anymore!
 

*Please note that any links marked by an asterisk (*) are affiliate links and I may earn a commission if you click them and make a purchase (at no cost to you). 

Do you have any questions? Share your questions in the comments below!