We’re going to let you in on a little spoiler alert…your first client is most often NOT going to be a paid client. There’s a lot of misunderstanding on getting started with clients online. When you put a ton of pressure on yourself to have this first client relationship be a paid interaction, you really are setting yourself up for failure in a variety of ways.
The reality is that when you’re transitioning out of the corporate world and into the online space, a lot of things are different. The tools that people use, the platforms that people use, the work relationships that you can expect, the way that you communicate, everything changes.
And when you force yourself to start with a paid client, it means that you have a lot of pressure to show up, sell your service, and deliver a flawless experience. What we would highly encourage you to do is change your perspective on how you are going to go about finding your “first client”.
Our top recommendation is doing something called a “trade for testimonial”. What this means is that you are going to find someone who you believe is an ideal customer & who you think would be really fun to work with…and you’re going to offer to do your specific service for them in trade of a testimonial. [That’s right. Do the work for “free” & instead of charging them….receive a personalized testimonial instead.]
Now while this may seem WILD to some of you – here are some key benefits to offering this to your first few clients:
When you allow yourself to experience this relationship without the pressure of getting paid – you get to test out so many things for the first time & it alleviates the typical “paid” pressure.
Offering a trade for testimonial is also going to allow you to do is to break into different industries through trust building & referrals. Here’s how:
Let’s say you really want to work with photographers. If you reach out to a photographer and offer to do your service for free in lieu of a testimonial…this allows you to do get a behind the scenes look at what it’s like to work with this type of client. You get to see the “inner workings” of helping this kind of customer….and you learn some of the specific language & nuances that this business owner specifically handles.
Now that you’ve built serious rapport with your first photographer….this person is now going to refer ANY of their future friends who needs your specific service based on the relationship & rapport that you have built together. [This works with any industry. Not just photographers.]
So now, not only have you built a new case study in your portfolio….but you’ve also now gained a valuable referral partner throughout the process. So while this person did not directly pay you, they gave you some invaluable elements to build your own business:
By changing your perspective on finding your first few clients [and working with them for testimonials instead of money] – this takes an immense amount of pressure off of you as a first time seller of a digital service. If you are struggling to find your first paying client – or if you’re struggling to break into a new niche or a new industry – change your perspective and offer to do a trade for testimonial work exchange instead.
[If you’re looking for a step by step script on how to reach out to potential customers for “trade for testimonial” exposure, pop our support team a note at email@example.com for guidance!]