A Simple 3-Step Strategy to Land New Clients Without an Audience

“Do you need a large audience in order to land new clients?”

The short answer? No.

While an audience does make booking clients easier, it’s very possible to land clients when you’re just starting out and haven’t had the time to grow your mailing list, social media following, or blog readership.

There are a couple different ways to go about this (and I’m sharing 6 in this week’s Ellechat), but there’s one in particular that won’t cost you a dime and has the potential to land a new client this week.

All it takes is a little thoughtfulness and these 3 simple steps.

A Simple 3-Step Strategy to Land New Clients without an Audience - Elle & Company

Step 1  |  Ask for emails on social media

I know, I just told you that you can implement this simple strategy without an audience. 

But I’m willing to bet that all of you have at least 100 people following along with you on platforms like Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. Which means that you already have a growing personal network, and there just might be a potential client or two in the mix (or a person who has connections to a potential client). 

Not only are the people in your personal network going to be the most excited about your offerings because they already have a vested interest in you, but they’re more likely than anyone else to share about your services and spread the word.

So utilize that personal network by not only posting about your services on social media, but asking those who might be interested in your services to leave their email address in the comments (or even tag someone they know who might be interested).

It seems too simple, doesn’t it?

With all the blog posts and resources out there on growing your list through content upgrades, exit intent pop-ups, etc., it’s easy to overlook the simple methods right in front of us. 

But what if you simply asked people for their email addresses?

I’ve done this several times in the past, most often to gauge interest for my courses. In fact, I did it last week:

“Sending some surprise emails this morning to everyone on the Freelance Academy waiting list! 👏🏼 If you're a creative who wants to turn their passion into a successful full-time business and consistently book new clients, your Wednesday is about to get a lot more exciting. Follow the link in my profile, sign up for the course waiting list, and I'll send all the details (and a fun surprise) your way!”

While I usually ask people to leave their email address in the comments, this time I tried something new.

First, I set up a new page on my website with an opt-in form for people to subscribe to the waiting list for my new course, Freelance Academy. 

I also set up an automated email with all the course details and a discount that would be sent to each new subscriber immediately after they subscribed. 

I added the URL of that new page to my Instagram profile for easy access, shared my post, and gained over 60 new email addresses from interested followers in less than 2 hours.

You have the potential to reel in new clients by taking the same approach. 

Set up a page on your website with some information about your services. Include an opt-in form or contact form and ask those who are interested to enter their name and email address for more information. Then make the page easily accessible by adding the URL to your profile (if you’re posting to Instagram) or adding it in the post itself (if you’re sharing it on Facebook or Twitter).

But that’s often a lot of steps to take for someone who’s casually browsing on social media.

And that’s why I’ve discovered that I gain an even better response when I simply ask for email addresses in the comments.

Some people may not feel comfortable leaving their email address on a public account for everyone to see, and that’s okay. You can always ask them to send you a private message.

But the wide majority is more than happy to add their email address in the comments for the sake of convenience.

Take this post, for example.


It's baaaack! Well, almost. I've been making updates to #elleandcompany's Adobe Illustrator course and I'm re-launching it 2 weeks from tomorrow! Those who've been patiently waiting on our waiting list will be getting a sweet surprise in their inboxes next week. So, if you're interested in learning the basics of Illustrator for your creative business, leave your email address in the comments and we'll add you to the list 👍🏼 Happy Friday! #ellecourse

The result? 130 email addresses of people who were interested in the course.

It didn’t take a whole lot of time and it didn’t cost me anything. I didn’t use fancy marketing language or try to twist anyone’s arm.

And you don’t have to do any of the above to gain interest in your services, either; just tell people exactly what you plan on doing. I’ve found that people are more likely to respond when you’re up front and honest with them.

Your post might sound like this:

“Exciting news! I’m launching my NEW design package specifically for creative business owners, and it includes a full brand (primary logo, 2 logo variations, distinct color palette, fonts) and 3 custom collateral items (like business cards, pricing guides, packaging, etc). If you’re interested in learning more, leave your email address in the comments and I would be happy to send you more details (or feel free to tag someone who might be interested!). I only have 3 spots left in my design queue for 2016 and I would love to work with you!”

OR you could try being even more straightforward:

“Hey guys! Some of you may know that I’m starting a new design business, and I’m looking for business owners who are in search of a new brand and website. If you, or anyone you know, might be interested, leave your email address in the comments (or tag a friend) and I’ll send more details your way. Thanks in advance - I really appreciate it!”

This approach is also a great way to gauge interest. If no one responds or seems interested, you might consider reevaluating your offering (or trying one of the other 6 ways I’m going to share in this week’s Ellechat!). 

It’s important to note that this strategy works better on some social media platforms than others.

Twitter’s character limit makes it hard to share many details, so you would probably want to take the landing page approach instead of asking people to reply to your tweet with their email address. 

Your tweet might sound something like this:

“Attention creative business owners! My NEW design package was created just for you. Take a look >> [URL]”

Twitter is very fast-paced, too, which means that few people will see your tweet unless you post it several times each day. 

Facebook also makes this strategy a little more difficult. It’s algorithm favors posts that have a high level of engagement, so unless you’re able to pick up email addresses in the comments right away or land a few shares in the first hour, you might have a hard time getting your post  to appear in your friends’ feeds.

So if you plan to implement this strategy on Facebook, you might give a few friends a heads up and ask them to “like” or share the post right away to positively trigger that algorithm and get your post to pop up towards the top of people’s feeds. You can read more about this stuff here.

I’ve found Instagram to be the perfect social media platform for this strategy. 

Not only are the posts chronological, but Instagram is proven to generate more comments and likes than any other platform.

In fact, Instagram’s engagement is 60% higher than Facebook’s and 120% higher than Twitter’s (source).

But whatever platform or method you choose, put yourself out there and take the simple approach. Ask for engagement through shares and comments that include email addresses.

Step 2  |  Build trust with your new subscribers

Now that you have some email addresses from prospective clients, either add them into your mailing list manually (making sure to separate them with a tag or segment) or email them individually from your business address.

(That’s one of the benefits of the landing page option. If you included an opt-in, those emails will automatically be added to your list and you won’t have to manually add each one.)

Then you can begin writing a series of emails to pique their interest in your services even more. 

You don’t want to try to pitch your services right from the get go, especially if these people don’t know you well and you’re just starting out. It’s important to build trust first. 

There are a lot of ways to go about this, but one of the easiest ways is to demonstrate your authority by writing about your area of expertise.

If you’re a brand designer, your first email might discuss the benefits of a streamlined brand or share a case study of how a rebrand landed a business more clients. You might share a recent design project with them and explain the process from start to finish. Or you might even share some information on how to choose an appropriate color palette or design a professional logo.

All of the above help demonstrate your experience, position you as an expert on the topic, and make your services more valuable. 

Remember that you don’t have to be a marketer or use any fancy language for this step to be effective. Simply share what you know.

You’re not trying to sell; you’re trying to build trust and authority. 

Step 3  |  Ask your list to book

Now that you’ve been building credibility with your potential clients, it’s time to seal the deal and ask them to book your services. 

There are a couple ways to go about this, but these 2 copywriting techniques are my favorite.

1  |  Problem, agitate, solve (PAS)

Bryan Harris has a great analogy for this approach. 

Imagine you have something in your eye. It’s usually a little bit annoying at first, but you might not take action on it right away. (That’s the problem stage.)

But after you rub your eye for a minute or two, it really begins to itch. The itch becomes unbearable, so you finally get fed up and decide to do something about it. (That’s the agitation stage.)

Finally you get up, look in the mirror, and get it out. (That’s the solution stage.)

That’s the approach you want to take in order to get people to book your services. Outline the problem, agitate the problem, and then offer your solution to the problem.

A short example for a photographer might be: “Tired of taking terrible selfies? You can keep embarrassing yourself on social media with unprofessional headshots OR you can book my portrait session package and give your audience a better first impression.”

You’ll often find that identifying the problem is easy, but agitating the problem can be a little more difficult. 

So consider how the problem makes you feel. In the example above, I mentioned how bad selfies can embarrass you. Agitating the problem and driving it home a little more intensifies the need for a solution.

You usually wouldn’t knock out all 3 stages in 2 sentences. It’s often more relatable when you elaborate on each one and go into more detail. 

But this approach can be very effective for getting people to understand their need for what you’re offering.

2  |  Features, advantages, benefits (FAB)

This copywriting strategy works well because it focuses more on the benefits of your services than the features of your services. 

It doesn’t mean that you overlook the features of your service package altogether. You need to share what you can do as well as why your services are helpful (advantages).

But you should put the most emphasis on what it means for the person reading.

The approach should be, “You get this....and the product does this...so that you get this…” Keep reiterating the benefits.

This strategy usually works better for single emails, while the 3 stages in the PAS strategy could work well over a series of 3 emails. 

But whatever strategy you choose, be honest with how you present your services. 

As with any strategy, it isn’t 100% certain that you’ll book a client by asking for emails. But by putting yourself out there and using creativity in how you reach potential clients, you’ll make headway and your audience size will become less and less of a factor.

If you’re curious to learn 6 more free, effective ways to land new clients with little to no audience, join me for this week’s Ellechat webinar by registering here!