Five ways to attract your first clients - without a portfolio or testimonials

When you're launching a new business, and are hoping to attract clients, it can seem almost impossible when you realise you have no existing work or previous clients' results to show off. 

Fear not! This is totally workable. In fact, I've been there myself so let me share what I learnt. 

1. Build the "know, like, trust" factor

If people know, like and trust you, often they won't care about seeing previous work examples or reading testimonials. It's true!

If you have started building relationships, working on your content marketing to position yourself as an expert and if your passion comes across, you might be surprised that very few people ask to see your previous work.

In fact, when I started my design and strategy business, not one of my first few clients ever asked to see our previous work. They simply asked if we offered design... and I figured that would be fun so I said "yes", then found my first designer, and figured it out! Which leads me to my next point...

2. Get out from behind the screen!

Social media and online marketing is AMAZING. But often, in the service-based industry, our clients come out of meeting people in "real life" or having these people we've met refer their friends or peers to us. So - especially when you're starting out and keen for work - make the effort to head along to events where you know your ideal clients will be hanging out. You can't expect to be found if you're not putting yourself in a position to be.

3. Offer a reduced price for launching 

Pricing is your personal decision, but if you would like to build up your first few clients - which is often a confidence thing for us to feel like "ok I can do this!" - then consider charging a little less than perhaps you one day hope to. It can be a great way to build up a few clients to start with and in a sense, use these clients as your test case to see what works and what you'd like to tweak.

Just keep in mind that you want to still provide these first clients with a "wow" experience - referrals from them could give you your next few clients! You could even offer a "launch special" to add a buzz around your launch pricing.

4. Create your own examples

Who says you can't create examples of your work purely for your website or portfolio? If you're a designer or other creative, give yourself a couple of pretend projects to add to your website. Perhaps it's branding for a new cafe or copywriting for a new product that's going to launch. These examples will help your potential clients understand your work and style. 

5. Gather testimonials from other work

Finally, if you have worked with other people in the past - which we ALL have - why not ask them for a testimonial? It might be about your work ethic, your communication skills... whatever it might be that your ideal clients would find encouraging. Just because these testimonials aren't from your new business, it doesn't mean that they aren't valid. So go out and gather a few - you can replace these over time as you capture new testimonials from your clients!

So there you have it - there's no reason why not having examples of your work or testimonials from clients should stop you from attracting your first few clients. Get out there, go for it and have fun!