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17 Ways to Land Your Very First Paying Side Hustle Client

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So, you have a side hustle idea that you want to make extra money from.

But, you have no clients.

Let’s talk about how you can get some.

1. Tell Yo Friends

I was very shy when I first started my freelance writing side hustle. I didn’t want any of my family or friends to know I was doing it because I assumed they would think it was a futile pipe dream.

But I found out to make extra money from any business, you need to bust out of your shell.

Don’t be afraid to tell anyone and everyone about your side hustle. One of the very first clients I ever landed was from posting my services on Facebook.

An old high school classmate hit me up letting me know that their company was looking for a freelancer. Just like that I was hired.

You will never know who needs your side hustle services unless you ask.

2. Start a Blog

Pretty much every business owner needs a website these days.

When you pass out your business cards or tell people about your side business, they’ll likely want to snoop online to see what you’re all about.

For my business (freelancing writing), a website was very necessary to show off my clips and testimonials. It’s ultimately this promotion online that helped me go from side hustling writer to full-time writer.

I have a quick guide to starting your own blog for your side hustle here.

3. Knock on Doors

Don’t count out your neighbors. They could be in need of the services you deliver. Place a few calls pitching your services or visit in person to ask around for referrals.

4. Take the Traditional Route

Print out some fliers with those cut out phone numbers on the bottom and post them on corners.

Try heading to local stores too to see if they have the community board where you can post business cards and fliers.

Starbucks is one place I’ve seen that has a community board although it probably varies from neighborhood to neighborhood.

5. Partner Up

Find business owners who offer another service that your customers need so you can cross promote.

For example, if you’re a florist, partner with wedding planners. If you’re a web content writer, partner with web designers. If you’re a cat sitter, partner with vet offices.

Both you and other business owners can win in this situation by referring clients back and forth.

6. Get Your Chat On

Networking and community events are a great place to find new clients, so grab your business cards, get out there, and get to know people. Meet Up and EventBrite are two good places to look for networking events in your town.

7. Get Cozy With Other Similar Businesses

You won’t be able to sell your services to people who do the same business as you (unless they subcontract you), but you should still network and get friendly with them.

If you build a relationship with business owners that have an overflow of work, they can pass on clients that they can’t manage to you.

8. Reverse Engineer

Reverse engineering is when you look at a competitor and break down their product or system to see how it’s made or sold.

You don’t want to outright copy someone else, but you can see what marketing techniques are working for them.

If you run a cat sitting agency, you can check out another pet sitter’s service packages, website, and social media profiles to study what marketing methods are getting them the most traction.

9. Cold Pitch

These two words can be scary, but it doesn’t have to be. Pitching your neighbors or friends is warm; they already have a connection with you.

Cold pitching is contacting businesses or people that don’t know who you are to see if they need what you offer. The cold pitching game is all about volume. The more you pitch, the more you’ll get responses.

I’ve cold pitched to gain a few clients, but I’ve found you have an easier time booking clients through referrals and networking than cold calling or cold emailing.

10. Use Your List

You know those emails and business cards you’ve amassed over the years from your friends, past coworkers, and past bosses?

That’s the start of your business email list. Send out emails or call letting them know what you’re doing on the side and ask for referrals.

11. Party Where Your Prospects are Partying

Okay, not a kegger type party, I mean a hang out party.

If you’re serving dog owners, they hang out at the dog park, so go there.

If you’re serving small business owners, they may be members of your local Chamber of Commerce, so go to those meetings or check out the directory online for places to pitch.

12. Get a Car Door Magnet

This is an affordable way to catch the eye of potential customers while you’re driving. Vistaprint has car door magnets you can create for less than $10.

13. Offer a Promotion or Special

Always price your products or services so you’re getting paid well for your work and keeping in mind that you have to pay taxes.

But to get your first few paying clients, you may want to consider offering a discount on your service for a limited time. This creates some urgency and you can get referrals and testimonials to post on your site.

14. Update Your Email Signature

Add a signature to your email with the business you’re running and any promotions or sails that you’re currently offering to make all of your email recipients aware.

15. Join a Twitter Chats, Facebook Groups, or LinkedIn

If your business is virtual (like virtual assisting), you’ll probably have luck finding clients in virtual places like Twitter chats, Facebook groups, or LinkedIn.

Look for Twitter chats and Facebook groups where business owners or your customer base congregates.

16. Create a Referral + Affiliate Program

Entice prospective customers with a bonus. Maybe you give customers 50% off of your service whenever they refer someone who signs up.

That’s an incentive for your first customer to sign up with a friend right away. They get 50% off of the service and you get two customers out of the deal.

17. Pay Attention to Your Mindset

Finally, you need to have a positive mindset to land clients.

Your mindset when side hustling can make or break you.

I’ve battled with mindset throughout my business journey and I know many other business owners have as well.

You have to go into running your business with the mindset that there’s a bunch of possibilities out there. This mindset will attract customers because you’ll be constantly seeking “out of the box” opportunities to gain work with a positive attitude.

If you go into marketing with a scarcity mindset thinking there’s only a limited amount of work to go around and there’s tons of competition, you’ll fail every time.

This energy and desperation doesn’t attract great opportunities.

I think mindset and personality traits go hand in hand as well.

If you’re an introvert or think overly logically (meaning there’s black and white – no gray), it can be harder to free your mind to forge your own path and to creatively imagine what you can do to draw in customers.

This doesn’t mean you can’t make $$$.

Just pay attention to your thoughts and how they can benefit or hold you back.

It Takes Time

If you try these marketing tactics consistently (day in and day out), I’m pretty certain you’ll be able to land at least one client within a month.

That’s if you’re offering a service that people actually need, of course.

Here’s how I’ve been able to make some of these tips work:

  1. I created a website with testimonials and got writing leads
  2. I used a Twitter chat to officially “meet” the client who I’ve been writing for the longest.
  3. I network with other business owners and we refer each other to clients all the time.
  4. I’ve told old classmates about services I offer and got recommendations.
  5. I’ve fully completed my LinkedIn profile and got leads from it.

I do want to say it’s not easy and that can be the misconception.

Anyone that you see running a side business or who has grown their side business into a full-time business has put in the legwork first.

There is literally no such thing as an overnight success or luck.

Business owners have hustled and put themselves in situations (i.e. networking events + conferences + trade shows + speaking engagements) that have landed them customers.

Gaining clients at first will require some gusto, but it can be done!

Do you have anything to add to this list? Add below. 

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Taylor K. Gordon is a writer and money blogger. She writes on how to live your best life without going broke.

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