Whenever you’re a digital marketing freelancer or an agency, getting new clients is almost always the bread and butter for your business. If you’re helping your clients the way nobody else does, you can be sure to get plenty of new business just by word of mouth.
But what if you’re new to the scene, or want to scale up your operation? Let me first tell you how I got clients in the beginning..
Back in the day, my brother and I have started digital marketing as affiliates for well-known companies.
The process was simple
- Find an affiliate product that is popular.
- Build a perfect webpage around it.
- Promote the website through Adwords.
Since our inception, we have attempted to market products across all major niches. Some were successful while others were a waste of time. A few of them, however, achieved really remarkable results
So remarkable, that we were competing with brands under which we were registered as affiliates. Our marketing campaigns didn’t go unnoticed. As affiliates, we were asked to oversee or manage the entire PPC accounts of companies that we had worked for.
It wasn’t just those companies with whom we had an affiliate agreement. Also, their competitors have contacted us to help improve their PPC campaigns as well as affiliate marketers asking for consultation.
We had as many clients as we wanted
But since we started to work with large companies directly, we were building their brand. There was not enough time to care about managing our own websites, or looking for new prospects. We become invisible, even though we were pushing more volume than ever, just not to our “properties” anymore.
Years were passing by, some companies got acquired, some ran into problems during a pandemic, and some have built (again) their own in-house team for PPC. It became clear that no deal with clients is permanent.
So after a long-time, I have started acquiring new clients. Let me tell you about what worked for me and what didn’t.
Getting new clients from Upwork
First, I registered on Upwork. This seemed like a good idea as Upwork has a wide range of job opportunities. In order to help their marketing goals, companies are seeking experts from all over the globe.
So, I created a profile and uploaded my references. I also described who I am and what I accomplished during my carrier. I am confident that my experiences are supported by numerous proofs and will not hesitate to show them to anyone.
However, I was fully aware that my past experience was not going to be as relevant here. Upwork has its own ranking system. Clients can view reviews and see the work of freelancers on the platform.
Since I was just getting started, I wanted to quickly build up positive reviews.
I lowered my hourly rate
I knew that If I want to start somewhere new, I have to provide discounts first and not focus on immediate profits. Although I was hesitant to go too low as it might be inconsistent with my profile and make me look suspicious.
My hourly rate was set to half of the amount I am willing to work for long-term. Since everything is in place, it’s now time to find clients.
It seems easy to find the right project. You can quickly find all the offers by simply entering keywords that relate to your expertise in a search box.
Don’t get too excited, though, as you won’t believe you’ll mostly see.
Many job postings are not even logical.
Maybe you were living under the impression that Google Ads experts or marketing experts, in general, are charging $100 per hour upwards.
This is obviously not the opinion of most Upwork clients. Take a look at this ad.
As we can see, someone is looking for an Ad manager expert with an hourly rate of $10.00 – $20.00. That’s not even an entry-level paygrade! If this would be an exception to the rule, I wouldn’t bother mentioning it. Unfortunately, it’s not.
This is the reality of freelance marketplaces. It’s mostly about the price, not the quality. The consequences of hiring a $10/hour ad manager must be known to most marketers.
Some job postings do make sense
The majority of freelance marketplaces are mostly about low labor costs. But are there exceptions? Yes, a minority of postings are created to capture the real experts with experience, and that’s where I tried to apply.
My goal was simple: For the first month, I tried to get one solid client who takes his business seriously. During the period of 30 days, I applied to 8 postings that were interesting to me.
Did it work out? No. My offers weren’t even noticed.
- Massive amount of proposals: It’s difficult to know how many proposals were sent out to each potential client but Upwork always shows 50+, so it may as well be a few hundreds.
- No reviews: Reviews are the first thing that everyone notices. Since I was new to the platform, i had no reviews. Since i had no reviews, i had a slim chance to be noticed and I was quickly filtered out.
- Requirements not met: You can set up certain requirements on Upwork. For example, a posting may require applicants to have earned at least $10K in their respective fields on Upwork. But who cares if I made hundreds of times as much? I was flagged as not meeting requirements.
It’s difficult to find work on Upwork for someone who is new to the platform. The system doesn’t consider what you did before joining Upwork. It doesn’t matter whether you are an expert or a beginner.
In order to get jobs equivalent to your expertise, you have to start over and take anything that comes your way first. And that’s definitely something I’m not willing to do.
You can also bring in your own clients and create a project through Upwork. You will get the reviews you want, but they will also charge a transaction fee of 5% to 20%. This doesn’t sound like an ideal plan.
Truth is, you don’t really need to be on Upwork, at least if you’re serious about your business or carrier as a marketer.
Focus on one industry at a time and conquer it
I won’t be writing about setting up your website, posting on social media, and all that cliche stuff you probably read a million times already. What I’m gonna show you, is one simple, actionable strategy.
This strategy, if executed correctly, can turn into an endless supply of clients. It does involve work, maybe more than other strategies do. But it works.
All you need is to follow these two steps.
1. Chose one industry and do a thorough market study
Pick an industry that is close to you or offers a lot of potential clients. Next, learn everything you can about the industry.
You should collect all information you can that could be helpful for marketing. As if you are about to open a new business in this field, act like it.
Your knowledge will help other companies in the industry get more customers. You don’t wanna be always second-guessing and slowly discovering what works and what doesn’t.
It doesn’t matter if your choice is real estate, hair salons, or retail stores. Every area has its own specifics and you must be well-informed before you can start. It is important to have confidence in marketing in this area and be familiar with every aspect of it.
It might seem strange to you to think that a market study is necessary before speaking to clients. But it’s not. Why? Because most marketers don’t that, and that gives you a great edge.
You can be more confident and persuasive if you know everything about your client’s industry before even reaching out to them. Your answers will make them feel special and you will show your client that you truly understand him.
2. Make a list of potential clients
Now you’ve chosen the industry that you want to concentrate on and have studied it. What now? Now you need to look for clients who are most in need of your assistance.
Let’s suppose you are looking to focus on small businesses. Maybe hair salons would be the right place. Okay, now follow me.
- Pick one city or area and make a list of all the hair salons there are. You can now filter them by selecting those that have a great landing page and are more likely to convert.
- Analyse competition on Google. Search for keywords that are related to hair salons within the city to compile a list of those that appear to be running ads.
- Combine the lists and remove businesses which are running ads from the list number one.
Now you’ve got a list of hair salons that seems competitive enough, but not running Ads.
Why don’t they run Ads? You will likely encounter two situations.
- They don’t know how. They may not have been contacted by any agency yet and are unaware of the possibilities. Perhaps agencies have already contacted them, but they weren’t convinced. You can learn more about by getting in touch with them.
- They have a terrible experience. They were either managing the ads themselves or had someone else do it for them. It didn’t go as planned. Offer them a free analysis to find out what went wrong. Once you have identified the culprits, prepare a report for your client and help him plan his way to success.
Once you’ll get a client from one area, you can move on to another, city by city. You will gain a better understanding of the industry the more clients you have.
The benefits of focusing on one industry at a time:
- Each client brings you an enhanced understanding of the industry and additional data.
- Your clients will benefit from your growing expertise in the field.
- There is no need to conduct a new research project for every client. Many aspects will be the same.
- It will be easier and more efficient to manage accounts.
There are many strategies to get new clients for your digital marketing agency. Focusing on one area at a time and conquering it is very time efficient and leads to a great acquiring rate.