Every consultant and freelancer needs to find a steady stream of new clients to keep their business growing. Thankfully, the Internet provides a plethora of ways to find more consulting clients without breaking the bank.
Of course, just because there are lots of online ways to find more consulting clients, you shouldn’t stop marketing yourself offline. In my experience, the best strategy for most consultants and freelancers is to combine a number of offline and online strategies in order to grow your business.
That being said, in this article I’m going to focus exclusively on online strategies. Here are the 5 best ways to find more consulting clients online:
#1: Free Downloads
One of the best strategies for finding consulting clients online is to develop a number of free downloads that would be appealing for your idea clients. These downloads can be e-books, recorded webinars, worksheets, or online tools that will help your prospective clients see the value of your work.
For example, if you are a business strategy consultant, you could create a free strategic planning worksheet for businesses, or a 10-page e-book on how to run a great planning meeting. No matter what you offer, make sure it doesn’t give away your “secret sauce,” and instead gives away just enough information to prove your expertise.
When using free downloads, you should require people to enter their name and e-mail address (and perhaps other information as well) in order to download the item, and your team should make sure to follow-up with the people who download the item either via an auto-responder sequence or directly via phone or e-mail.
Podcasts are a great way to find new consulting clients for your consulting business. There are two ways to implement this strategy:
One way is to create your own podcast and get it listed on iTunes, Spotify, and other podcast platforms. The technology to do this is surprisingly simple, but in order to host a successful podcast you will need to commit to creating new episodes at least monthly (and preferably once per week).
If you want to use a simple online tool to help you create and post your podcasts easily, check out my favorite podcasting tool, Buzzsprout (affiliate link).
Another great way to find clients is to appear as a guest on other people’s podcasts in your industry. For example, if you’re a fundraising consultant, there are dozens of podcasts out there focused on non-profits. If you’re a business consultant, there are hundreds of podcasts focused on growing a successful business. Many of these podcasts are constantly looking for content.
All you need to do is get in touch with as many podcast hosts as possible offering to be a guest and letting them know some topics you could talk about. Be sure to create an easy to remember URL for each appearance where people can download a lead magnet in return for giving you their e-mail address.
For example, since my website is GoBeyondClients.com, if I was appearing on podcast called “The Joe Smith Show,” I would create the URL GoBeyondClients.com/joe and then mention on the podcast (over and over again) that listeners can download a free e-book at GoBeyondClients.com/joe.
The world’s most popular search engine is Google. But did you know that the world’s second most popular search engine is YouTube? It’s true… more people search for things on YouTube than on any other search engine besides Google itself. Yet most consultants aren’t taking advantage of this to find more consulting clients.
The best way to find more consulting clients through YouTube is by creating a bunch of short (2-10 minute) videos explaining various concepts in your industry. These videos should not be sales pitches. Instead, they should be free “how-to” video guides. These videos can either be you talking to the camera, or presented webinar style using slides (if you’re shy, you don’t need to appear on camera!).
At the end of each video, offer people a free downloadable guide or worksheet at a special URL on your website. Make sure you include the link in the video description. When people click on the link, have them enter their e-mail addresses in order to get access to the free item. Then, follow-up with them to sell them consulting services, and add them to your e-mail newsletter list.
#4: Guest Posts
Writing blog posts for other websites is called “guest posting,” and it’s one of the oldest strategies for getting people to link to your website. But did you know that it’s also a great way to find more clients online?
Guest posts introduce you to a whole new audience and allow you to show off your expertise on other websites. Plus, the fact that another website is publishing your work offers “social proof” to the readers of that site that the site owner believes in your work enough to publish it.
The best way to place guest posts is simply to e-mail other sites in your niche and ask if they would be interested in running an exclusive post on their site. Offer them a number of possible topics, and if they agree, be sure to include an author bio at the bottom of the post that includes links back to your site. You may also want to offer the site owner a chance to “swap” posts by placing a guest post on your site in return for running your guest post on his or her site.
#5: Online Speaking Engagements
Another great way to find more clients online is by finding online speaking engagements where you can showcase your knowledge and point people back to your website in order to download a free lead magnet. These online speaking engagements can include offering free webinars for another website’s audience or presenting at online conferences in your niche.
In order to land these online speaking engagements, you’ll need to get in contact with the owners of websites that offer webinars as well as the organizers of virtual online conferences. Make sure that the presentation you create is enough to “wow” your potential clients, and then spend a few minutes at the end of the webinar making a free offer… offer people a URL where they can go to download a free e-book or tool that will help them succeed with what you taught them in your presentation. A significant number will take you up on your offer, and you can then follow-up with them and add them to your e-mail newsletter list.
I’ve built a number of successful consulting businesses by using online tools to find more clients… and you can too. Combine the 5 methods above with some offline methods like seeking referrals and speaking at in-person conferences, and you’ll quickly build a steady stream of new clients for your consulting or freelance business.