There’s plenty of positive aspects to entrepreneurship… getting to do work you love, setting a schedule that works for you and your ideal schedule, the possibility of making a tangible impact on the people and society around you… but unfortunately, thrills don’t pay the bills.
There’s also a feast or famine cycle that’s inherent to the small business owner lifestyle. One month you’ll have so much work you’re struggling to keep up, and the next you’ll be digging for pennies under the couch cushions.
But just because this happens to “everyone” doesn’t mean that you have to play along with the game. With a little bit of thought and sustained effort, you can keep your client stream consistent.
How to get a consistent stream of clients:
1. Promote yourself regularly.
It’s challenging to think about the “next” thing while you’re engrossed in current client projects, but it’s important to look ahead in your calendar. Don’t wait until you’ve wrapped up that big project or ended a contract before you start looking around for the next one.
You’ll be more confident about promoting yourself and taking on projects suited to you if you start looking before you hit that couch-scavenging stage.
- Try plugging your e-newsletter on a weekly basis through your social media feeds.
- Share testimonials from happy clients on social feeds and in your newsletters.
- Share snippets of your working life… nothing confidential, obviously, but enough to let people know you’re actively engaged with projects.
Heck, you can even announce that you’ve got client openings for the summer/two months out/etc, and invite people to book a chat with you.
Remember, people need to be reminded that you exist. It may feel icky to promote yourself so bluntly, but people only see about 1/18th of your posts (and take action on even fewer of them).
2. Maintain good relationships with past clients.
It’s always good to check in with your past clients — especially the ones you really loved working with. This doesn’t have to be a “Hey, I’m looking for work,” sort of email, but simply a friendly, “I was thinking about you and was wondering how things are going!”
You never know when they might have a new project to work on, and keeping in touch keeps you top-of-mind when their colleagues are looking for someone to hire.
Pro tip: If you collect their contract information (email, phone number, address) in your contract, it makes it super simple to follow up later with a card or a note.
3. Make it easy-peasy to contact you.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again… make it easy to get in touch with you! Don’t bury your booking link or contact info three pages deep on your website. (And definitely stop doing these other things that are driving your potential clients away.)
Busy entrepreneurs can’t waste 30 minutes looking for your email address. Make it super simple for them to send you a message, tell you what their project is, and get information about how you work.
4. Shoot for quality, not quantity.
The worth of your work is not in how much you churn out, but in the results you get for your clients. This applies no matter what you’re doing… whether it’s a gorgeously handcrafted wedding dress that makes the bride feel amazing, a gallery of family photos where Mom feels good about how she and her kids look, or webcopy that turns readers into customers and gets all the likes and shares.
Do your best work, and the results will do the talking for you. Follow through on the expectations you and your client talked about in your discovery call and outlined in your contract. People who do good work are hard to find, and your reputation will spread.
5. Generosity is not a short sighted act.
There’s a fine line between giving away all your hard work, and giving enough away so that a potential client has a good idea of your knowledge and professionalism. Some entrepreneurs, especially newbies, can struggle with undercharging and giving away too much of their time, and that’s not what I’m talking about here.
Being generous with your knowledge through blog posts, free webinars, and answering questions in public forums can reinforce your position as an expert in your field. Once people realize they can trust your expertise, they’ll start hiring you to meet their needs.
Head to the comments and let me know — Are you feeling good about your future workload or is panic looming on the horizon? Which of these strategies could you implement to maintain a steady stream of clients?
Then click here to read some of our other Client-related blog posts.