Finding Your First Clients


Your first clients are the hardest ones to get, and in spite of what many people believe, no fancy marketing strategies will bring clients to your door if you just started your business. Why? Because the first step to getting clients is building trust.

how to find your first clients - belong magazine blog - female entrepreneur, lady boss, women in business, customers, service

AdWords, Facebook Ads, SEO, and other advanced marketing techniques require money, time and a good understanding to be effective. Even if they lead traffic to your website, your visitors won’t convert, because they don’t know you or find any signs of trust in your website.

To help my own clients prioritize their marketing efforts I divide their potential clients in what I call the three generations. By understanding which stage their business is at they’ll know straight away what sort of things they need to focus on to attract their next clients.

first generation of clients

The first generation of clients are those who you will get in your first year in business. The purpose of getting these first clients is not to make money; it’s to build trust in your business.

These first clients will most likely come from people who already know you and want to give you a chance, such as family, friends or previous work connections.


In your first year, focus on promoting your business by word of mouth.

1. Email everyone you know - Email your friends and family members to let them know you are about to start a new business and ask for help to find your first clients. It’s important to let them know how exactly they can help.

2. Use your previous work connections - You may quit your job to take a different career path, but if your plans are to continue doing the same type of job that you were doing in your previous company, your work connections are gold. They've already worked with you, so they know you and your work standards. You already have their trust.

3. Introduce your business to your local community - Do you buy from or use the services of a small business in your neighborhood? Then bring your business cards and flyers with you and introduce your business to them. Small business owners like helping other small businesses like them.

4. Network and build new relationships - Industry associations and meet-up groups can be a great way to start networking offline. You can also network online though relevant forums and Facebook groups. They are a great source of information for your own business, and also a good channel to find new opportunities.

5. Give free stuff – Who doesn’t like a freebie? If you sell services, offer free first consultations or small jobs at a low rate so that people can sample your services. Many people won’t understand the value of your offerings until they have experienced it themselves.

second generation of clients

The second generation of clients are those who you will get from your second year in business. These people don’t know you yet, but they have been referred by other clients from your fist generation, who already worked with you and had a positive experience.

This second generation of clients could also come from influencers. These are bloggers and media outlets (e.g. local newspapers, industry magazines, etc).


From your second year in business focus on referrals:

1. Collect client testimonials. Add testimonials to your website. If you sell products ask your clients to take a photo of it in their homes and post it on Instagram (or send it to you) so that you can show some happy customers in your social media too.

2. Deliver a great client experience - Impress your clients with a professional streamlined service and excellent results. If your clients are happy with your service you may get more business from them in the future, as well as new referrals.

3. Offer referral incentives - Give your clients a voucher with a discount for their next job or purchase for every new referral you get thanks to their recommendations. Depending on the nature of your business and the relationship with the referee, you could even offer commissions for new referrals.

4. Build credibility through online reviews - Sell through marketplaces. Apart from the high traffic that they receive everyday, they give buyers the chance to review their experience working with or buying from you. Positive reviews act as referrals from your clients or customers to strangers, and are highly valued by online shoppers everywhere, especially if they are in third party websites.

5. Get media exposure - Build a database of people who write about your industry, such as journalists, editors or bloggers, and bring your story to them. If you sell products, send them to a selected number of bloggers to try and write a review in their blogs.

third generation of clients

The third generation of clients are those who you will get after having been in business a few years. These clients are complete strangers, they don’t know you and they don’t know anyone who has worked with you yet.

This third generation of people have been researching products or services like yours in the Internet and they have stumbled upon your website.

Now it’s when you could grow your business exponentially. However, people need to be familiarized with your business before they make the decision of hiring you or purchasing from you. Repeat visits to your site create familiarity in people’s minds, increasing your changes to convert some of them into customers or clients.


To attract your third generation of clients focus on online marketing to build familiarity:

1. Create SEO-oriented content in your website - Distribute your content through your blog, newsletters, downloadable PDFs (ebooks, guides, etc). If people find your content valuable they will repeat visits again and again, follow your blog, comment on your posts, etc.

2. Build a mailing list - Your email list is the most effective way to connect with your audience after visiting your website. Everyone is busy today, visitors come and leave your website fast, and visits are usually quite short. Bring them back to your website by sending valuable content and exclusive offers and gifts to their inbox.

3. Use online advertising - There are many ways to advertise your business online: Google AdWords, social media ads, display advertising in blogs and third party websites, etc.

4. Connect with your tribe in social media – Social media can help you connect with a large number of potential clients and build excitement about your products or services. However, getting a good number of followers is harder and harder everyday. Start with social media today to see positive results in a few years time.

People will hire you or buy from you because they know you, they like you and they trust you. To get customers or clients you will have to find the mechanisms to build familiarity in people’s minds, love in customers’ hearts and show your audience signs of trust in and outside your website.

Rosa Spencer is the owner at Grafika Studio, a creative service business founded in 2012, that provides brand and web design services. After 12 years managing brand strategies and digital marketing campaigns for leading organizations I opened my own design studio to work with other creative businesses and lifestyle brands. Since then, my mission has been to help passionate business owners create opportunities to explode their businesses by developing a professional and effective visual language in their brands and websites.

Take a tour of my studio at Or follow me behind the scenes in Instagram @grafikastudio

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