Coach to Creatives
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The Clarity Journal

Tactics, Tools, and Truth for Creative Entrepreneurs

10 Things You Can Do TODAY to Fill Your Calendar with Clients

You know the feeling. The feeling of looking at an empty calendar with a lump in your throat, wondering when and how you are going to get your next client. I’ve personally been in this spot, as well as many of my clients, and I know how desperate and powerless it can feel to sit and wait for the proverbial phone to ring.

Because that’s what most of us do, isn’t it? We sit and wait for people to come to US. Most creative service providers rely on passive referrals and passive digital marketing to get new clients. When I say “passive referrals,” I mean you have your fingers crossed that your clients will tell other people about you. Passive digital marketing means you are creating content on your website, blog, Facebook, and Instagram in the hopes that prospective clients will feel compelled to reach out to you.

If this sounds familiar, I have a hard truth for you: By waiting for people to come to YOU, you’re putting the success of your business into other people’s hands. If you continue this approach, you will continue to have NO control over your income, your workload (60 hour weeks to 10 hour weeks), or the quality of clients you work with.

Instead of sitting, hoping, and waiting for people to come to YOU, I suggest that YOU go find THEM. I’m challenging you to take an active approach to getting new clients so that you can:

  • Get clients that are the right fit for your business

  • Book out in advance

  • Create a consistent flow of work (and sales)

Below is a list of 10 things you can do TODAY to get more clients for the Fall. These aren’t sleazy sales tactics; on the contrary, these are ways that you can take ownership and responsibility for your own business.

1. Promote to past clients.

It’s much easier to sell to existing customers than it is to get brand-new customers. If you have a service that people can use again and again, such brand photography or family photography, reach out to your clients and ask if they want to book your services again. Or, you might try up-selling your past clients to a higher level product.

2. Attend a networking event. 

Networking can be a great way to find new clients because it’s so much easier to form a genuine connection with someone in person. Find an event that your ideal client is likely to attend and try to meet as many prospects as you can. However, DON’T feel like you need to go through your entire sales pitch over cheese and crackers. Instead, if someone seems interested in working with you, get their permission to follow up after the event.

3. Ask for referrals from friends and family.

Your personal network may be a huge untapped resource for your business. However, when you ask your friends and family to refer you, make sure they really understand your ideal client. In their enthusiasm to help you, they may refer you to people who aren’t a good fit.

4. Ask for introductions from happy clients.

Instead of waiting for your clients to refer you, you can get proactive and ask clients for referrals. For example, if you’ve recently assisted a client with a home renovation, you can ask if they have friends that are thinking of renovating their homes. Also, if you are a newborn photographer, you can ask your clients to introduce you to any other expectant mothers that they may know. In addition, asking for social media shares is a more indirect but helpful request to make.

5. Do a social media campaign. 

If you are an active social media user, you can do a focused campaign to promote your services. The campaign should be a five to seven day period of focused selling. As you create your content, speak directly to the needs of your ideal client, explain how your work solves their problem, and give them a clear call-to-action so they know how to take a next step.

6. Run a paid ad.

There are no brownie points for growing your business without ads; for many of us, they are a great untapped resource for business growth. Specifically, Facebook ads are available for any budget. If you have an opt-in resource or “freebie” on your website, run an ad to it for a week and follow up to those leads with a series of emails.

7. Promote to your e-mail list.

You don’t have to have a huge email list to be effective at selling through email. Consider doing a series of emails promoting your services and asking your subscribers to book for the Fall. Use the opportunity to highlight recent work, talk about new services or products, and provide testimonials.

8. Cold-email prospects.

This can be an extremely effective strategy – albeit a bit scary –especially if you work with businesses and/or brands. Make a list of 20-30 prospects that you would be excited to work with. Then, reach out to them via email to introduce yourself and ask for a brief meeting or phone call to follow up (whichever you feel is appropriate). 

9. Invest in a marketing platform.

Paid marketing platforms can be incredibly helpful for certain niches and industries. Sites like Houzz and Upwork are proprietary platforms that connect freelancers and entrepreneurs with jobs and clients. Effectively using these sites can take time, energy, and money. But, once you’ve put in the time these sites can generate leads passively on a continual basis.

10. Partner with an aligned business or brand.

You can plan a partnership or promotion with a brand that targets the same ideal customer as you. The partnership can be flexible to your needs and could be a workshop or event, an online-based training or content series, or simply an agreement to refer clients to each other. For example, interior designers can partner with realtors, architects, and general contractors. Graphic designers can partner with brand photographers, web developers, or copywriters. Family photographers can partner with baby or kid clothing brands, doulas, play spaces, or schools. Artists can reach out to interior designers, art consultants, or galleries. 

Which one of these ideas are you going to try first?