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How to get your first 3 paying clients

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How to get your first 3 paying clients
11

Maybe it’s uncouth to say, but most of the advice on making money via freelancing is terrible.

That’s because when it comes to how to get clients, typical advice goes something like this:

  • “YEAH! Just start blogging! Create great content and someone’s bound to come along someday!”
  • “Make a website and do some SEO on it so you always get free traffic!”
  • “Do something unique and eye-catching, like creating a viral video to get lots of viewers and show off your viral video-making skillz!”
  • “Go on some forums and you know, be helpful… answer questions… establish your presence and see what happens!”

Wow, I’ll just do a little SEO. It’s so easy! Then a simple viral video. Ugh, get the hell out of here.

Problems with creating fancy marketing strategies without getting clients

Problem 1. Stop building complex marketing strategies for clients you don’t have. Your first goal is to get 3 clients. Do you really need a blog to do that? And notice I said 3 clients, not just 1 — that could be a fluke. Get 3. Once you have 3 clients, you’ve proven that you have a reliable base of people who’ll pay you for your services. You can test service offerings and prices on them. And now you can start with more complex marketing strategies. Remember: Skip all the fanciness and get 3 people to pay you first.

Problem 2. It makes complex marketing strategies like SEO, blogging, and viral marketing appear both easy and discrete, when in reality they’re often an excuse for you to avoid the hard work of finding actual people who will pay you for your services. Do you know how long “SEO” takes to work? Do you just start a blog, and then check it off your to-do list 5 minutes later? If you say yes to anything I just asked, I will kill you.

Generic freelancing advice tells you to do high-level – and in reality, highly complex – work that actually encompasses dozens of subtasks. Where will you be after Subtask 11? In all likelihood, you’ll have given up. Honestly, are you defaulting to high-level, almost impossible-to-finish strategies as a way of avoiding getting down to the real work?

It doesn’t have to be this way.

Solution: Get your first 3 paying clients

How to get your first clients

Getting your first client is a 2-step process that I call Locate and Communicate.

1. Locate Your Clients

  • Who is your exact client, and where do they go to look for a solution to their problems? Do they read magazines? Go to the grocery store? Ask their priest?
  • Where are people already looking for solutions to problems, and how can you make a match between them and your service?

(By the way, the 2nd option is something that anybody can do by posting and responding to ads on sites like Craigslist. Just last week, after I recommended Vin give niche guitar lessons, he posted an ad on Craigslist and got immediate responses.)

The 1st option, though, is my favorite: Identify very specific leads in your very specific target market, and figure out where they go to look for a solution to their needs.

Look, most people don’t want to buy your services. Most people think you’re ugly! But a few people might be into paying for your services. When you’re starting out, your job is to find those few people and turn them into long-lasting customers.

Here’s how you find them:

First step is to niche down your market. Do not try to find every person who uses a computer between the ages of 18-34, lives in the USA, and likes pictures of naked girls. NICHE IT DOWN. By age, location, interest, income level, and so many more options (that we will explore in detail at Earn1k.com).

Then, find out where they go to find solutions. Get in their heads:

  • Want to pitch to moms that blog about children? Go to The Mom Blogs and start with the ones under “Popular Blogs.”
  • Looking for physical or massage therapists within 50 miles of your house? Yelp should get you started easily.
  • What about tech startups with over $1 million in funding, with more than 10 employees, but less than 50? Here’s 100 of them.
  • If you want to do… large dog grooming and sitting, well there’s probably a local pet store or dog park near you where owners are all congregating just waiting for you to offer them a solution.

Listen closely. Over the last few weeks, people have been coming to my weekly video office hours saying things like, “But Ramit! I have this idea and have NO IDEA where to find customers!” My response is always calm, yet you know that anger boils closely below. “What have you done to research your audience?” Have they emailed a few people? Taken them out to lunch? Asked complementary service providers if this is a good idea? The answer is almost always no.

Example that made me angry: Last night, someone said they were going to start a wedding-montage photo business. What should they do? They appeared to be stuck. Answer: Go talk to a few wedding photographers and ask them if this is a good idea. Would their customers buy it? Are there holes in the market that are not being served? What about event planners? Florists? You could do this in 1-2 weeks and save 1 year of your life.

80% of your ideas will be strengthened — or washed out — with this simple exercise. And it only takes a week or two to get started.

Get in these people’s heads & then niche it down. Read their minds and then act on those insights. So you’ve figured out where the secret large dog pet store is. Great. Now look at their website, visit the store, talk to the owner. GET OFF YOUR ASS AND TAKE ACTION.

Could you pitch one potential client each morning? You probably could if you created an email template. How about 10 over the weekend, playing with different headlines/offers so you can see which ones work better?

It doesn’t have to take a long time, and it doesn’t have to be agonizing…which brings us to step 2.

2. Communicate With Your Clients

Email will be your most important communication tool for pitching clients. I get pitched via email all the time for guest posts, product pitches, and people who want to work together. I vomit routinely. The emails are usually way too long and have no clear point.

Bad email:

Subject: to the real ramit [Subject line is too vague]

Ramit (please forward to him, if VA reading),

I’m impressed, I’ve scanned your blog from 2004 to now, left a few comments and felt the need to contact you for networking, an offer, and advice. This should take you about 4 minutes to read, I hope you can. [Good compliments, but 4 minutes is way too long]

Background: I’m influenced by Tim Ferris, Seth Goden, Leo Babauta, Rocky Balboa, and Steve Jobs. Effective efficiency meets ideas, the power of less, will power and innovation.

Status: Working 40 hours a week until I can escape via passive or easily managed income. I am IT support for an all Apple global consulting firm. I run [Company], a well oiled machine of an IT support, web development, and internet consulting company (just me and my VA’s). I run [Website] – a chronicling of the stages of becoming self actualized to the fact that life isn’t how people tell you it is, and you can design it otherwise. I just bumped up my pretax savings to %11 of my earned income. I am unrelentingly in pursuit of the break that will come and free me to live out my dreams of supporting people and their technology, training in crossfit, learning spanish, and giving to youth without worrying about money. [Too long=I’m starting to lose interest]

My need is to learn from you (not your typical money wisdom), and your need is that you or someone you know could use me like a cup of coffee on a Monday morning. [This is where most busy people make the decision not to read on]

I’ve seen enough cases now, yours included of people vice gripping life and making it their own. I’ve always been service oriented in the quiet leader type way, and I’ve made smart no risk decisions, I’m 25 and will no longer take the slow road. I’m primed for a break, and will be unrelenting until it comes. I’d like to include you in that because I think you’re smart, on your way up, and accessible. Please review me below, I hope you can make use of me before I realize my full potential and be swept up in that.

Although I can be wordy, I’m not a magician with words, I’ll lay my most powerful qualities/experiences out in bullet points. I hope you see them as I do, as ammunition.

  • will power like no other (never lost a “bet you can’t stay…”)
  • technical savant (no technology too frustrating or complex)
  • people person (communication is a strength, met several C level execs, Sony for instance)
  • action oriented, all plans suck without implementation. simple plans plus action work.
  • business man. started and sold several businesses
  • founder of [Company]
  • i save %11 of what i make, split to an IRA and emergency fund. i make very little.
  • building a backup information product and breaking the ice of online marketing
  • traveled the world while being a digital worker
  • self starter, will succeed and see the positive regardless of situation
  • educated, technical, fast and i think before i act

Would you let me help you or someone you know with these skills? If yes, please connect with me.

Honestly, the guy sounds like a nice guy who wants to offer his services. I think. I’m not really sure.

But instead of getting in my head and suggesting how he could help me specifically, he just listed a series of vague skills that were all over the board. And the call-to-action is…for me to “connect” with him? I responded, as I usually do to vague emails, with a 1-sentence: “So what would you like to do for/with me?” He sent another rambling email, so I at that point I simply shrugged and moved on with my life.

Good email:

Subject line: I want to work for you for free [Best subject line I’ve ever received]

Hey Ramit,

Love your site, especially the articles about automation and personal entrepreneurship. It’s because of you that I have multiple ING Direct accounts for my savings goals, a Roth IRA, automatic contributions, and asset allocation all set up. [Good buttering me up]

I’m a web developer for [Company], a site that gets around 50 million hits per month. I used to do freelance work exclusively, and I’m preparing to make the switch back to doing freelance work ~30 hours / week while I travel and study in China. I work in Ruby on Rails, doing everything from the database to the front-end, and I’m especially good at rapidly prototyping new ideas and projects. [He’s in my head: I’m always looking for talented developers and he’s clearly one of them]

In order to start getting myself back out there, I’d love to have the chance to do some development work for you, completely gratis. If you like my work and have some paid projects for me down the road, that’d be great of course, but I’d be happy just for the opportunity to network and receive a little advice. I’m sure you have a project or two in the back of your head that you haven’t had time to prototype yourself yet; let me do it for you! [I LOVE IT!! As a matter of fact, yes I DO have some side projects I’ve been wanting to do]

You can give me a call at ###, or find me on Google Talk under this address. You can also check out some samples of my work here: [website]

Thank you!

Two things: First, that was the best subject line I’ve ever received. Second, it’s clear, concise and makes me a strong offer while highlighting his experience. I called him within 60 seconds of receiving this email.

Note that if you are looking for paying clients, you can often skip the work-for-free arrangement that I often urge by creating an incredibly niche offer. For example, if he had attended the last 5 video office hours I did and had heard me make an offhand comment about how I’ve been wanting to launch XXX project, his subject line could be: “I can help you launch XXX in 2 weeks.” This could then lay out why he’s good, what he would do, and it could lead directly to paid work.

When it comes to communicating with your prospects, I hear many people complain that they’ve tried to reach out with little success. The truth is they’re often reaching out in the wrong way. But by getting in your clients’ heads, you can fix that and write emails that engage and lead directly to paid work — no fancy marketing strategy needed.

Getting your most important client: your first

It’s not what you think.

Yes, you need your first client so you can actually say you’re in business. And you definitely need your first client before you can unleash a full-scale marketing campaign.

But, the most crucial thing getting your first client brings you is NOT money. It’s feedback.

  • Is your business feasible?
  • Does your basic pitch work?
  • Can you execute on the service you’re selling?

Would you rather find these answers now, or in 6 months after you’ve put in massive amounts of your own money and time into marketing a business that doesn’t yet exist?

The point is to build a simple system that lets you rapidly test and iterate on your business. And while most people are worrying about building a fancy website or taking other useless steps, you’ll realize that the best simple system begins with THREE PAYING CLIENTS.

Today, I covered how you can LOCATE and COMMUNICATE with specific, targeted leads. Once you’ve done that, you’ve built your first simple system. Then what?

What’s next for earning money from your clients

This is just the tip of the iceberg. These are the next questions you might be thinking about:

  • What about pricing? How do I test that? Can I negotiate as a freelancer?
  • What exactly should I offer, and how should I structure my service? Hourly? By project?
  • How do I get referrals? Should I be networking? How do I do that without wasting my time?
  • When do I raise my rates?

These are all critically important questions that will shape the success of your freelancing workto earn more money. Over the last 3 weeks, I’ve been giving you specific suggestions for earning money, so if you read closely, there are enough recommendations for you to easily earn your first $500 — and this is just my free stuff. Imagine what my upcoming premium course, which I’ve been working on for 10 months, will contain.

If you want to get the answers in detail — and get your ass kicked to take action — with materials, scripts, tactics, and techniques that you won’t see on the blog, join my private Earn1K insider’s list:

 

(Can’t see the form? Click here.)
* * *

For those of you who’ve already signed up to earn more money, let’s do an exercise to help crystallize this and make it real.

Leave a comment with your responses to these questions:

What will it take you to get your first 3 freelance customers?

1. My specific customer is someone with this problem: _________.

2. My prospective customer spends time researching the problem / solutions in these 3 places:

1)

2)

3)

3. One way I can break in to one of the places above: _________.

4. My opening line in an email to them: __________.

Leave a comment with your responses.

11

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173 Comments

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173 Comments on "How to get your first 3 paying clients"

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Vin
Vin
6 years 7 months ago

Just what I’ve been waiting for!!!

…now let me read it.

Geoff
Geoff
6 years 7 months ago

1) My specific customer is someone who is 30+ lbs overweight and living in New York City. He is wealthy but doesn’t have time to be in the gym every day.
2) a) Google b) Craigslist c) Networking
3) Print up business cards, network at happy hours
4) I can get you ripped like Jesus by July 1

April
April
6 years 7 months ago

Um, you lost me when you said most people think I’m ugly. I’m now doubting everything you’ve ever written.

But despite that, I’ll work on these questions and post my answers later today.

March
March
10 months 21 days ago

On the inside.

Nicole Crimaldi
6 years 7 months ago

1. Technologically Challenged Entrepreneur with little spare time to learn about all this “online stuff he heard was important.”
2. a) newspaper b) colleagues + friends c)business magazines
3. Contact local business owners, do a great job for them and ask for referrals.
4. Subject line: I can increase (Company Name’s) sales in 2 months by building your presence online. (not sure if that is good or not?? thoughts?)

cory huff
6 years 7 months ago

1. My specific customer is someone with this problem: artists & niche business owners who don’t know how to market online or don’t have the time to do it.

2. My prospective customer spends time researching the problem / solutions in these 3 places:

1) internet forums

2) talking to friends

3) asking technical people about marketing

3. One way I can break in to one of the places above: meeting more web developers at networking events.

4. My opening line in an email to them: Let me help you connect directly with your ideal customer.

Jillian
Jillian
6 years 7 months ago
I am going to productize until I can break down my barrier of not believing that my skills can be used to freelance – which I plan to do by gaining more experience and credentials so that I can try to be confident in my work. So, I am going to take your freelance-based questions and apply them to my productizing. 1. My specific customers are parents with children under a year old, who use baby bottles with the problem of having to [I know what the problem is, but I’m going to keep it to myself for now]. 2.… Read more »
Matt
Matt
6 years 7 months ago
1. My specific customer is an undergraduate student that is having difficulty understanding organic chemistry. 2. 1) Online (i.e. Craiglist, tutoring websites,serive provider websites) 2) Chemistry Department Private Tutoring Lists 3) Graduate Student Teaching Assistants 3. The Above are all easy accessible by either jost posting an ad, signing up, or just by talking to people. 4. Subject Line: “I am an experienced organic chemistry tutor available to begin working you immediately”. Note: I didn’t use this line in a email (sounds a little weird to me for an email), but worked like a charm for a Craigslist ad. Obviously… Read more »
David Pavel
David Pavel
1 year 1 month ago

Dude, I hate to break it to you, but UNDERGRADUATE STUDENTS DO NOT HAVE MONEY!

Karen Dimmick
4 months 6 days ago

Neither do Architecture students, yet Pat Flynn made a thriving business from them… Nearly everyone has money if you’re solving their biggest problem.

Dunstan
Dunstan
23 days 9 hours ago

Hey Matt,

I know this post is from a lifetime ago, but I thought I’d ask… did your little business ever take off? I’m actually interested in learning the basics of organic chemistry and am just a little overwhelmed with the flood of information available.

Cheers

Dunstan

Tomas Stonkus
6 years 7 months ago
Hey Ramit: You sure are a brave man. But, seriously, thanks for making me think. See, I am not looking to freelance right now, so this does not apply to me directly, but still, if I may, I will discuss what I want to do and maybe you can help me out 🙂 My ultimate goal is to become a financial planner for professional athletes. Why? Because I strongly believe that most of them mismanage their money and I would love to help them get that under control. Where am I now? I am graduate from the University of Illinois,… Read more »
Dunstan
Dunstan
23 days 9 hours ago

Hey Tomas,

I know this post of yours is from a lifetime ago, but I’d thought I’d reach out anyway.

I happen to have had a similar idea to yours in that I want to help athletes by investing some of their income in real estate (and thereby generating a passive income for them).

I was wondering how your idea was working out and if you would like to bounce some ideas around sometime? It’ll have to be online chat, voip or email seeing that I live in Eindhoven.

I look forward to hearing from you

Dunstan

AD
AD
6 years 7 months ago
Mmkay, it’s long, but have two businesses, and I’m deciding between two niches for one of them. Freelance writing/editing for high-traffic blogs and online marketing companies 1. Problem: Needs Web copy or articles and is short on time or wants to expand topics/perspective; has a good content but has no time or interest in rewriting and polishing; wants traffic 2. Research/places: Looks for staff/guest writers on bigger blogs; asks big name authors to write for them; maybe doesn’t think there is a problem (“anyone can edit!”) 3. Way to break in: Query e-mails to high-traffic blogs 4. Opener: “Writer’s block?… Read more »
Chris H
Chris H
6 years 7 months ago
All, My freelancing/consulting idea is to teach what Ramit and many others are preaching to the financially uninformed. What I know is that there is a need for this help, what I am looking for from everyone is suggestions on how to reach those people. I don’t think I will have a problem selling my services, but rather how I can find the people looking or even not looking for help. Any suggestions?? 1. My specific customer is someone with this problem: young adults with no personal financial skills, who needs help in budgeting, paying off debt, getting everything set… Read more »
Dave
Dave
6 years 7 months ago
My service would be to provide architectural plans to contractors that don’t need or want to pay for an architectural stamp. What will it take you to get your first 3 freelance customers? 1. My specific customer is someone with this problem: Needs architectural plans done inexpensively. 2. My prospective customer spends time researching the problem / solutions in these 3 places: 1) Local Lumberyard 2) Municipal Building Department 3) Online 3. One way I can break in to one of the places above: Attend contractor luncheons and home shows. 4. My opening line in an email to them: You… Read more »
yohami
6 years 7 months ago

Haha, now this is good stuff. I´d hire the china guy as well.

Migdalia
Migdalia
6 years 7 months ago

Ramit,

Definitely…I love you.

Nick@Subject2.com
6 years 7 months ago

I certainly hope the first guy learned a valuable lesson and his next attempt will go better.

When I want to work with someone I connect with them with a I want / I have attitude.

I want something from you and I have something you need/want in return.

I do well with that considering I’m not a freelancing anything nor do I work for anyone. I’m usually the employer/client of freelancers

Heather
6 years 7 months ago

1. My specific customer is a busy small 3D company that already knows how to animate and model their scenes and would like to bring some extra sparkle to their projects but don’t have the time to do it themselves.

2. a – Freelance sites like eLance and oDesk. b – Google. c – Industry magazines.

3. Finishing my online portfolio and bidding on projects.

4. My opening line in an email to them: Do you want your 3D projects to stand out?

Vin
Vin
6 years 7 months ago

1. My specific customer is someone with this problem: A middle-school student who needs someone how to teach them the guitar.

2. My prospective customer spends time researching the problem / solutions in these 3 places:

1) Internet/Forums/Craigslist

2) Local Guitar and Music Shops

3) Concerts

4) With friends @ school, social gatherings, school events, and town events.

3. One way I can break in to one of the places above: Advertise my services online via classified ad.

4. My opening line in an email to them: Learn Guitar in 4 Hours.

yohami
6 years 7 months ago

@Vin, good points but the last one.

Advertising to delusional people who expect to learn guitar in 4hs blocks yourself from the real customers.

Instead give 4hs for free from a 20hs signup plan?

For the opening go with “Learn guitar” + “EASY WAY” or “NOW” or any catchy phrase.

Ara
Ara
6 years 7 months ago
1. Customer: He/she cares about food and quality. Educated. Product: High Quality Custom Cakes, with natural and organic ingredients. 2. I can find prospective customers at: a)Whole Foods b)Williams Sonoma c)Caterers, Restaurants, Hotels, Nightclubs, etc. 3. Today I went to whole foods and talked to the person in charge of the bakery and they are interested since this is a product they do not carry and people ask for it. He said I could supply its 4 location. He is going to talk to the manager, but he said he really liked my idea and that it could help the… Read more »
Kelly
6 years 7 months ago
Interesting. I am still working on my answers. If you want to know how to pitch to a mom blogger, I would recommend tweeting with @georgegsmithJr who previously worked for Crocs, and has a loyal fans, and much love from moms all over the blogosphere. And Jillian, 9 times out of 10 mom bloggers get that email you just described and then go on to comment about how dumb the pitch is. You don’t expect to work for free, so don’t send an email asking for free press from a mom blogger with no compensation. And for Pete’s sake make… Read more »
Ryan @ IQ Test
6 years 7 months ago

Seriously, if it weren’t for blogs like this one I would be lost as to how to do this stuff effectively. It is really difficult to get started, but I have found that once you get started, you really get moving.

Peter Yaworski
6 years 7 months ago
YES RAMIT! This is an amazing post and (I think) one of your best in a while. For anyone who doubts it, I was actually listening to a Stanford Entrepreneurial Lecture on the walk to work today (Yup, you listen to vanguard, I listen to iTunes U) and the CEO of LinkedIn made the exact same point about addressing risks early (i.e., Is your business feasible? Does your basic pitch work? Can you execute on the service you’re selling?) If you identify your risks and tackle them early, it’ll save you the days/months/years of exhausting yourself to develop/build something that… Read more »
Megan
Megan
6 years 7 months ago

Great post, Ramit! Answers forthcoming (gotta hold down the day job)
THANK YOU! I was working on that great website 😛

Sara
Sara
6 years 7 months ago

Ramit – great post, lots of good tools for taking action. And, as always, I love your rants.

Bryan Duffel
Bryan Duffel
6 years 7 months ago
1. My specific customer is an engineering firm that is under-staffed or under-skilled at developing fire alarm system layouts for commercial and/or residential buildings. 2. My prospective customer spends time researching the problem / solutions in these 3 places: 1) Building codes to develop the system 2) Job reference sites to find qualified personnel in both system design and CAD software 3) City planner’s office to figure out specific jurisdictional requirements 3. One way I can break in to one of the places above: network with colleagues in Portland and the bay area (former residence and former colleagues). 4. My… Read more »
Dean Soto
6 years 7 months ago
Totally awesome post. Really inspires me to take action! 1. My specific customer is someone with this problem: A new startup (non-techie types) that needs a simple technology setup to manage their documentation, bookkeeping/billing, and computing in general. (Example for a general contractor: An inexpensive and easy to use computer that uses OpenOffice for docs, Freshbooks for bookkeeping, A simple wordpress blog with a free template [since Ramit preaches that good sites don’t matter]. I would also offer a monthly service fee for me to keep his setup up-to-date and for customizations.) 2. My prospective customer spends time researching the… Read more »
skwirking
skwirking
6 years 7 months ago
I’m still rolling this idea around in my head, but what I have so far is: 1) My specific customer is someone with this problem: They’re a post-grad / mature-age Computer Science student, having difficulty with their studies because of the time pressure of their adult lives – they can’t immerse themselves the way a typical young CS geek does. 2) My prospective customer spends time researching the problem / solutions in these 3 places: a) Directly with their lecturers / tutors b) With other post-grad / mature-age students in their class c) On department message boards (digital & physical)… Read more »
Kimmoy
6 years 7 months ago

1). plus size boutique/community owner, or agency who has a hard time increasing their members or making money from their community (sales conversions).

2. Plus-size related fashion shows/events/meetups, Ning Groups, Facebook, Twitter

3. Attend the events/meetups, get more involved in the social media groups

4. My opening line in an email to them: How to grow your plus sized community and turn your members into customers

Oh my gosh Ramit! Thanks for making me think this through, I actually have an even clearer vision of who I can help just by typing these responses out.

Dutch
6 years 7 months ago

1: My specific client is either in need of guidance for performance based fitness or in need of someone to keep them accountable to personal health and fitness goals.

2:
a) Crossfit.com/online fitness forums
b) my blog reading about health and performance
c) Gym owner (not really sure how to contact these folks as a whole)

3:Make periodic offers on my blog. Make frequent post or responses on fitness forums.

4:When was the last time you made a PR? (Personal Record)

Tory
Tory
6 years 7 months ago

1. My customer is a woman with an unsatisfying or inadequate relationship with sex.
2. My customer researches the problem by talking with friends / family, reading relationship sites and books, and visiting health and / or sex sites.
3. I can break into the above places by making more friends / joining women’s groups and by adding to or commenting on above sites.
4. Unsure of an email opener because it might sound too much like the spam people regularly get. Wouldn’t mind some help with this.

yohami
6 years 7 months ago

@Tory whats the product, are you a sex provider / toyboy / male scort?

Tory
Tory
6 years 7 months ago

NO! LOL! I am a woman, offering private consultation for advice and recommendations including communication skills and possible suggestions for positions with a partner or adult products for use with or without a partner. Really anything I can do, other than get entangled, that will help her to lead a fully satisfying sex life.

yohami
6 years 7 months ago

Nice, thats a wide market… you need to build a solid reputation to grow in there, I think more than in finances – anybody can give money advice bu sex / psicology… hum… If the reputation is set right, people will come to you in hordes. So I would look for ways to build up that authority instead of networking so much

Dave
Dave
6 years 7 months ago

I don’t know if anyone else has been having a problem with signing up for earn1k, but I finally got my activation email after putting my email in both fields instead of the usual Name/Email. This was after signing up almost every day since it was launched and getting 0 emails so try that if you’re having trouble.

olga
olga
6 years 7 months ago
ramit…. i have to say the first time i found you on the internet i was stocked because i emailed you and within 15 min you emailed me back. it was the proudest moment of my internet life. i got into your stuff before your book came out and love it. i just have to thank you…THANK YOU…for providing the world with tactical how to material that is easy to understand and it doesn’t feel like you are a robot. you are a cool guy…i hope you are coming to austin soon. i would love to treat you to a… Read more »
Ian Rogers
6 years 7 months ago

Make your first clients the ones who will really care about what you are doing…if you can. They will help you and send business your way. Its great getting referrals and not having to pay for much advertising

Tyler WebCPA
6 years 7 months ago
Mine may be cheating, because what I want to do is expand my current practice, not start a moonlighting venture. I thought of some moonlighting ideas but decided to get back to my current business as it is already currently in practice and probably has the most financial upside 1. My specific customer is someone with this problem: needs to understand the tax and financial implications of running a new business and is comfortable with technology and working with someone over the internet. Services could run from getting someone started on Quickbooks to advising on retirement plan options to cash… Read more »
DJ
6 years 7 months ago
I’d love to know what everyone thinks about this one. 1. My customer is a parent of a son or daughter about to enter into college and is in need of applying for financial aid/scholarships/admissions. They know the importance of education and especially funding education, but have no clue where to go for professional advice outside of their high school guidance office. 2. They would research here: 1. High School guidance office 2. local library 3. online search or blogs (if they exist and will not scam them) 3.Create a blog establishing my authority as someone who can help and… Read more »
yohami
6 years 7 months ago

@DJ whats the product? I guess you are some sort of advisor but its not stated on what field or what do you do. Maybe you are driving the students to college in your taxi? or do you bribe the professors? are you a gun for hire killing the competition? do you have a fake money printer? are you very emphatic and will listen to the parents for a fee?

I “Could” doesnt sell, use WILL instead, then it sounds like its you who wont borrow a penny, which I bet is not the case.

DJ
6 years 7 months ago

@yahami Thanks for shooting holes in my pitch! Seriously though. Thanks.

I will sell my services as an advisor. Assisting clients with completing applications, running scholarship searches, following through on applications, coaching on essays, negotiating financial aid packages, that sort of thing.

Clients would purchase a package of my services or choose from la carte options.

yohami
6 years 7 months ago

coolio

Kevin M
Kevin M
6 years 7 months ago

Great tactics, Ramit. I have a few ideas on side projects, once I narrow it down or pick one to try, I’m definitely going to give your process a whirl.

Good luck to the commenters with their ideas.

Kim Campbell
6 years 7 months ago
1. My specific customer is someone with this problem: College students with reading intensive sociology classes who are very busy, slow readers, don’t have the textbook, or just too lazy to do readings thoroughly enough to do well on the exams. 🙂 2. My prospective customer spends time researching the problem / solutions in these 3 places: 1) Among peers who have notes 2) by winging it on exams in class 3) In class taking notes themselves 3. One way I can break in to one of the places above: Asking students to sign up with email address at the… Read more »
Paul Singh
6 years 7 months ago
+1 for “But, the most crucial thing your first client brings you is NOT money. It’s feedback.” I started SnailPad (http://www.snailpad.com) as a joke and now I’m sending about 1,000 pieces of mail a month. I’ve been *cold-calling* other startups, freelancers and small businesses for the past week and managed to *double* that number in the past 3 days. (We’re on track to do over 2,000 pieces during February. The point is that you’ve got to sell to one complete stranger ASAP. Then repeat over and over. Bonus tip: I’m planning to buy a list of leads from InfoUSA and… Read more »
Alf
6 years 7 months ago
1. My specific customer is someone with this problem: Someone from the LGBT or Filipino communities (or both) who wants to sell their products/services online but don’t know how to effectively market/set up an e-commerce website. 2. My prospective customer spends time researching the problem / solutions in these 3 places: 1) Gay social networking sites/Facebook classifieds 2) Craigslist/other internet personals 3) Friends of family’s friends’ friends’ family’s friends 3. One way I can break in to one of the places above: Set up a meeting at meetup.com and give a 1-hour seminar regarding internet marketing for free; or, through… Read more »
Beth
6 years 7 months ago

1) My specific customer is working in a coroporate office, in charge of planning holiday dinner and parties, meetings, conferences and parents planning social events for birthday parties or weddings. That can meet with my once a week to attend a workshop or take the course online.

2) a) Google b) Craigslist c) Networking

3) Print up business cards, network with businesses, friends.

4) Plan your own parties, events and meetings in 6 weeks!

Elizabeth
6 years 7 months ago
THANK YOU, Ramit(!!!!!) for posting these questions. I have thought about my ideal client before, but never really what specific need I’m addressing as a photographer other than “Well, duh, to take their pictures!” Also, I NEVER would have done what I did today, which is email and tweet some of my online friends (and people I look up to) who would be my ideal clients, simply to ask them where they would look to find a photographer. Like a lot of other people, I would have answered “Google/Facebook/Twitter/Craigslist/etc.” but the general consensus among my ideal client (age 25-40, hip… Read more »
Ujjwal Trivedi
6 years 7 months ago

1. My specific customer is someone with a Costly Website. Most of the times the websites are also useless, not worth the money they are spending.

2. My prospective customer spends time researching the problem / solutions in these 3 places:

1) Connections/Friends/Partners

2) Google

3) Nowhere- They might not be even aware they are spending too much and getting BS.

3. One way I can break in to one of the places above: Virtual Networking.

4. My opening line in an email to them: *Decrease your IT budget by 50%*

Dorian
6 years 7 months ago
1. My specific customer is someone with this problem: When they update their web site, they introduce script bugs that they don’t find out about for days, and might not show up in all browsers. 2. My prospective customer spends time researching the problem / solutions in these 3 places: 0) Mostly they don’t recognize it as a problem. If they do, they assume there’s no solution. They’re not looking for ScriptCanary.com. 1) Tech industry meetings, anywhere I can find the CTOs in person. 2) Appealing to Javascript blog authors for coverage. 3. One way I can break in to… Read more »
Christina Gremore
6 years 7 months ago

@Dave: Did you see this article in the NYT about an architect who set up a booth at a farmer’s market? His sign said “Architect 5 cents” but he ended up making over $50,000 in commissions from that sign.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/21/garden/21architects.html?em

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[…] customers’ heads and understand what they really want. For example, check out the comments on this post — you’ll see that some people can do this very well, while others […]

Giammarco
6 years 7 months ago

Very good point. Finally someone who writes about taking action rather than blogging!

I have plenty of friends who are doing great and don’t even have a website!

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[…] Want to earn more money? How to find your first 3 paying clients […]

Kelly Whalen
6 years 7 months ago
DJ, there are some blogs/advisors out there already, so I would recommend reaching out to them, and offering to guest post, or ask SPECIFIC questions about the field. Shoot me an email (follow the link on my name), and I will send you some contacts. I came back to the Qs i full: 1. My specific customer is someone with this problem: reaching out to mom bloggers, but not knowing how. 2. My prospective customer spends time researching the problem / solutions in these 3 places: 1) blogs 2) twitter 3) google 3. One way I can break in to… Read more »
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[…] customers’ heads and understand what they really want. For example, check out the comments on this post — you’ll see that some people can do this very well, while others […]

yohami
6 years 7 months ago

@Kelly, I would focus on the product instead of trying to describe the customer´s problems on the tagline.

Example: “I can help you manage your money” instead of “are you struggling…”

Its your job to know what your customer problems are, not theirs. Dont ask them to identify themselves with a negative figure. Offer them solutions instead.

Brandon
6 years 7 months ago
lol..good article. I got tired of reading the same old SEO and google keywords advice with no substance from big business sites. You actually break it down into ways that don’t make things seem impossible. I guess the only question left to really ask is, how do you get into your customers/clients heads without sounding like a typical spammer? Ex: I offer bookkeeping services for startups. If I send an e-mail stating “Affordable bookkeeping services for the small business owner” out of the blue, it sounds appealing but it’s an e-mail out of the blue. No trust has been established… Read more »
yohami
6 years 7 months ago
@Brandon I just visited your website and spent a few minutes trying to find out about your services. 1) Eco friendly? are you looking for people who want to save the world, or are you pitching to people who needs accounting? 2) Flash site? small fonts? transparent layers? scrollers? several buttons all around the place that open the same information? agh. So I went through it all and I still have no idea of what can I get from you and at what cost. I guess the intention is that if I reeeaaallly want to learn about you, Id give… Read more »
yohami
6 years 7 months ago

@Ramit, this guy “alster” is a bot spammer

Anne
Anne
6 years 7 months ago

@DJ. I am interested in this sort of service for myself. Do you have experience in this field?

Debt Free Hispanic
6 years 7 months ago
1. Event planner needing to bring in a youth speaker to speak to Hispanics about finishing high school and going to college. 2. My prospective customer spends time researching the problem / solutions in these 3 places: 1) Online 2) Facebook 3) Other schools, bureaus, speaking directories 3. One way I can break in to one of the places above: Keep writing on my blog about youth speaking. Mail out my one sheeter to school principals and youth program directors. 4. My opening line in an email to them: Let me help you reach the youth in your community, together… Read more »
Robert
6 years 7 months ago
Ironic Ramit, I posted about our conversation, and my failure to be specific and short today on my blog. I read your post here, with my e-mail in the “Bad e-mail” example about 4 hours later. I’m cracking up. Good post, solid tips, and spot on about my e-mail. I didn’t know what I wanted to communicate to you, so I communicated vague nothingness in too many words. I learned something from that. To be fair I didn’t really want to do freelance work, I wanted your personal coaching on creating easily managed income (as you’ve done), in exchange for… Read more »
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[…] Want to earn more money? How to find your first 3 paying clients | I Will Teach You To Be Rich (tags: career) […]

Mazarine Treyz
6 years 7 months ago

Hi Ramit, I am a professional fundraiser, with a blog, an upcoming book, and a nascent fundraising consulting business. Here are my answers. What do you think?

1. My specific customer is someone with this problem: they need money for their cause.
2. My prospective customer spends time researching the problem / solutions in these 3 places:
1) Greenlights Austin
2) Books on Fundraising
3) Linked In Answers
3. One way I can break in to one of the places above: Answer Questions on LinkedIn, write a book.
4. My opening line in an email to them: Do you need more money for your nonprofit?

DJ
6 years 7 months ago

@Anne I do have professional experience in the financial aid/college admissions field. I am currently employed as a college financial aid advisor. Please visit my blog and contact me via e-mail if you would like further details of my services.

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[…] 7:02PM: He actually called me out on this e-mail citing it as a “bad e-mail” on his last blog post. Hah! Hilarious, we actually posted about the same e-mail at relatively the same time. I […]

BJM
BJM
6 years 7 months ago
I’m tired of the whole “start a blog”! In my experience working in video production no client is gonna take the time to read your damn blog. They probably don’t even watch my one minute demo reel all the way through. I LOVE this advice from Ramit to find out what people NEED! It seems like getting out of the house networking and then doing a little follow up is better than bangin’ away at another blog post. Maybe I’m just bitter about blogs. Anyway, I LOVE this content! Thanks so much for all the help. Video nerds suck at… Read more »
Jenn
6 years 7 months ago
What will it take you to get your first 3 customers? Speak to existing client base, get them to believe in the need for better nutrition for their pets. 1. My specific customer is someone with this problem: Is overwhelmed with the feeding choices for dogs; has a dog with allergies; wants whole fresh foods and superior nutrition for their dog. 2. My prospective customer spends time researching the problem / solutions in these 3 places: 1) Global or Ryan (and to lesser extent cheaper food stores) 2) Veterinarian 3) Online (Google search?) 3. One way I can break in… Read more »
Scott
Scott
6 years 7 months ago
The great thing about this, and Ramit’s other posts on this topic is that it applies not only to someone that is looking to make extra money with a new venture, but to someone that is already in a business. I live in Toronto and have a small technical services business that I run part time because I take care of my young son part of the day as well and Ramit’s common sense advice has refocused my marketing efforts. I too got caught in the trap of “I need a website/blog/social networking plan” and wasn’t focusing on the core… Read more »
Brandon
6 years 7 months ago

@yohami I appreciate the constructive criticism. I did get caught up in the whole go green concept from last year and just tried to do everything different from a typical accounting website which is why I went flash (why is this considered a bad thing btw?). I almost gave up on this but now i’m already thinking of ways to make it simple and more accounting, less save the world lol…..Thanks.

yohami
6 years 7 months ago

@Brandon, dont give up. Accounting online is huge, just take notes and iterate.
Flash is for entertainment or web apps.

Tracy
Tracy
6 years 7 months ago
What will it take me to get my first 3 freelance customers? 1. My specific customer is someone with this problem: A low-to-mid income parent looking for ways to supplement his/her interested child’s visual arts education (“My kid really seems to like art, but I’m no good at it” or “Have no time for it.” mentality). 2. My prospective customer spends time researching the problem / solutions in these 3 places: 1) Spend virtually no time researching because they’ll ask their other friends who are also parents (“Have you heard of any good after-school programs or Saturday morning classes for… Read more »
Lalitha Brahma
6 years 7 months ago
Great article 1. My specific customer is someone with this problem: a)A person/business owner/employee residing in Canada/US in general ( migrated from India in specific) with an average income above $75000 per annum. Wanting to start a business/needs his Immigration matters to be co-ordinated with a lawfirm/needs resources to connect with affordable business consultants/attorneys for life events such as traffic violation, buying home, preparing Wills, adoption etc etc b) Any person (global) who is laid off/in the process being laid off and wanting to explore the Entrepreneur in him/her and seriously interested in learning ways to let go of the… Read more »
yohami
6 years 7 months ago

@Latta, sister, the whole concept is way too invasive and your website scares the s#!t out of me. You even threat the customers there.

I would turn the whole thing upside down. Share your stuff, let the really interested people contact you without you coercing them, go freemium, offer company support… whatever. Getting that far into the negative zone is not alright. Theres a reason this blog has traffic and yours… doesnt.

Rebecca
6 years 7 months ago

1. My specific customer is someone with this problem: looking for student housing around USC.

2. My prospective customer spends time researching the problem / solutions in these 3 places:
1)craigslist

2)friends

3)daily trojan newspaper

3. One way I can break in to one of the places above: be on campus talking about housing choices.

4. My opening line in an email to them: Need housing? Check out where over 700 trojan live every year.

Leave a comment with your responses.

Lance
Lance
6 years 7 months ago

1. No current website or really crappy website

2. 1) They probably don’t know they have a problem yet

2) Referrals

3) ISP

3. No one in this immediate market that actually talks to individuals to get their website going. There is advertising, but small companies are too scared of how much it will cost.

4. I think I will make my pitches in person for now. Most people who I am targeting probably wouldn’t respond to something that impersonal.

megan
6 years 7 months ago
What will it take you to get your first 3 freelance customers? Have the time to put myself out there. 1. My specific customer is someone with this problem: Needs a website, or wants to learn how to make one themselves and is looking for personal training and support. 2. My prospective customer spends time researching the problem / solutions in these 3 places: 1) REFERRALS: Asking their network of colleagues, peers, and friends (either on Facebook or other online forums/ social networking) 2) BLIND SEARCH: Google searches for out of the box solutions or training 3) Local business listing… Read more »
yohami
6 years 7 months ago
@megan, teaching and making are two totally different markets. There are some studios charging 100K for a website, while in order to make that money in teaching you would have to open a school. So they are different paths, and its a choice to be better taken early on. Just checked your website… the “all about me” concept only works for blogs or for your facebook fan page. Whenever you set up a marketing site (aka portfolio) give your customers what they want, and that only. Same about your music. So what are you, a musician, teacher, designer… you cant… Read more »
Jenn
6 years 6 months ago
New version: What will it take you to get your first 3 customers? Speak to existing client base, give samples of the food, get them on board as my ‘sales reps’ through word of mouth. Get a local vet to do a trial of the food on a hard to fix allergy or ocular issue dog. 1. My specific customer is someone with this problem: Doesn’t have the time to cook their own food for dogs, has a dog with allergies, wants to pamper their ‘child’ with home cooked food. Ideal client will be wealthy retirees, double income no kid… Read more »
patty
patty
6 years 6 months ago
1. My specific customer is someone with this problem: They need someone to design a world class water feature for their project or a project they are trying to land 2. My prospective customer spends time researching the problem / solutions in these 3 places: 1) blind online search 2) personal referrals (from people in architecture/development/construction fields) 3) researching projects they like to see who did them 3. One way I can break in to one of the places above: make my presence better known with updated website and portfolio, make sure my already large network knows what I am… Read more »
Anastasia
Anastasia
6 years 6 months ago
Jenn Your prospective clients will find out about your services at their vets office, doggy day care or from their dogwalker. A final category is the person who grooms them- especially for dogs with skin allergies. People with extra money for their “babies” make sure someone is taking care of their baby during the day and provides them with “enrichment activities”. Break in by finding dogwalkers in really posh neighborhoods or go to the most expensive doggy day care you can. Your intro line grosses me out and makes me want to stop reading. Focus on the pampering aspect or… Read more »
Lionwish
6 years 6 months ago

Working for free (For a while) is a great way to network, learn, and most importantly, figure out if what your trying to obtain is something you even like to do.

kck
kck
6 years 6 months ago
The guy who sent the first email would benefit if he hired someone to proofread his emails. I wonder how many possible clients he’s lost by having incomprehensible grammar. 1. My specific customer is a woman, probably under 40, who is interested in martial arts or self-defense but turned off by male-dominated schools. 2. She looks for information: (a) from her friends, (b) at her gym, or (c) online — google/craigslist 3. I can break into the above places by (a) giving lessons to some of my friends for free or cheap and relying on them to recommend me to… Read more »
finance
6 years 6 months ago

wow cool tips you have and very practical. Looks to me like a direct solution for getting a client. I’ve gotta print this one. great post

Jennifer Whiddon
Jennifer Whiddon
6 years 6 months ago

If I had any skills I would certainly use them to freelance. I own a hair salon and I am a hair stylist. The economy nailed me to the cross and I am now getting ready to close the salon and go work for someone else. But everyone else seems to have amazing ideas for themselves. That is so great!

E
6 years 6 months ago

Simple but great advice. Really interesting, I like the email title. I guess it works.

Mary
Mary
6 years 6 months ago
What will it take you to get your first 3 freelance customers? Doing the footwork. 1. My specific customer is someone with this problem: Self-Employed person who is an expert in their field but does not have the knowledge or time to do their own record keeping. 2. My prospective customer spends time researching the problem / solutions in these 3 places: 1) Referrals from other self-employed people or tax preparer. 2) Chamber of Commerce 3) Craigslist or Yellow Pages 2. One way I can break in to one of the places above: Join the Chamber of Commerce. Post an… Read more »
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