If you’re still in your 9-5 corporate job and want to get paying clients into your side business, but don't want to be all over social media, then you’re in the right place.
And if you’re anything like I was, you feel overwhelmed and stuck, desperate to start your own business. But you’re wondering how the hell you’re gonna find clients when ‘the internet’ says that social media is the only way.
I totally get how you’re feeling as I was in that very same position. But then I realised something. Over the years in my corporate job, I'd built up a massive network full of people who might know people who wanted to work with me.
So why the hell was I fixating on Instagram, when I could be using my network to find clients instead?!
So, using my 15+ years of marketing experience, I developed my ‘Behind the Scenes Client Attraction Strategy’ - the process that got me 6 paying clients into my side hustle in less than 4 months without outing myself on social media.
And that’s what I'm sharing with you today.
But firstly, why is social media not the best place to get your first paying clients into your side hustle?
1. It takes time and effort. Lots of it.
As a former Head of Social at a well known bank, nothing frustrates me more than all the gumpf on the internet that leads new business owners to believe that posting all over Instagram & LinkedIn is the only way to get your name out there. Because the reality is that building an engaged audience on social takes time. In fact, according to Statista, Insta accounts with less than 1,000 followers grow on average about 9.4% over a six-month period.
And whilst gaining new followers is great, you need to then do everything in your power to nurture them to buy from you. You may have heard the stat that a prospect needs to “hear” the advertiser's message at least 7 times before they'll take action to buy that product or service.
And I'm living proof of that because once I’d ‘come out’ of the side business closet at work and felt OK using social media, it then took me a good 2 years of hard work to start getting clients from it. So updating your social media once a week isn’t going to cut it if you want to get followers and then turn your followers into clients. Daily activity is needed, but while you’re working in a 9-5 who has the time or inclination to do that??
2. You don’t feel able to market yourself publicly
You may also be like I was - wanting desperately to work for yourself, but terrified of work finding out in case they don't allow you to do it, or worse - sack you. So you feel like you need to do this in secret for now, so outing yourself on social media just isn't an option.
3. You have a bad relationship with it
One of the reasons I steered clear of social media for so long was the anxiety it gave me before and during my breakdown. I’d developed an unhealthy relationship with it, constantly comparing myself to others and feeling like I wasn't good enough. So I came off it for a period of time and it honestly helped me heal. Gradually though, I eased myself back into it and I now use social media successfully (read: healthily) to help me get clients. But that definitely wasn’t always the case, so if this resonates then just know that you;re definitely not alone.
4. You don’t want to show your face / make a tit out of yourself
That’s right. You may just be over the whole social media thing and the thought of learning dances for Tik Tok or lip-synching for Instagram makes you feel totally cringe. If that’s the case there’s no point forcing yourself to do it. Your ‘I fucking hate this but I'm doing it anyway’ vibe will ooze through people’s screens and no one’s gonna buy that, right?
So now we’ve established the reasons why social media isn’t the best place to get your first paying clients, here’s what to do instead:
1. Get clear on your niche & ideal client
Now - controversial opinion alert. Yes, it’s 100% true that niching down is the first & most crucial step when you're starting a business. (Because without a niche, you end up trying to be all things to all people. This isn't ideal because your message gets confused and people don't understand exactly what you do. And confused people don't buy).
2. Create a solution that solves your ideal clients' problems
A common mistake I see people make is to blindly create an offer based around what they think people need. But contrary to popular belief, people don’t actually want what you’re selling. They want what they believe they'll get, achieve or avoid as a result of buying what you sell.
So it's your job as a side business owner to understand the problems your ideal client is trying to solve and then create offers and content that match their very specific problems. Ones that speak directly to them and make it a no-brainer for them to buy from you. So they literally think - ‘How has she got inside my head?’ or ‘That’s perfect for me’.
So before you jump into what you want to sell, ask yourself 3 questions:
What’s keeping my ideal client awake at night? And what do they really want? So for my audience a pain point is that they want to start a business but they feel overwhelmed and don't know where to start, so they end up procrastinating.
How can I help them? What’s my solution? So for me, part of my coaching is helping them break down their massive goals into achievable and manageable chunks. But that doesn’t sound that sexy does it. So the 3rd question you need to ask yourself is:
What’s the outcome? The things they’ll get, feel or be able to do after working with me? So for my clients the outcome is them feeling focused and clear on what they need to work on around their 9-5.
3. Set your price, creating an introductory discount
In the early days of your side hustle, it's all about getting bums on seats. The more people you can work with, the more confident you'll feel, the more you can refine your services and the more testimonials you can get.
So, despite what some of the so-called gurus out there will tell you, you really don't need to feel the pressure to go all in and charge 'high ticket' prices at the start.
An introductory discount helps you attract more people because it's such good value and it also relieves any pressure you might feel working with your first few clients because you’re not charging those high ticket / high pressure prices.
4. Do Market Research with you ideal client
Another common mistake I see people make is blindly putting their offer out there and seeing crickets because they never validated it with their ideal client.
So, doing market research with your ideal client is a step that cannot be missed. It will not only give you a deeper understanding of their pain points and goals, but it will also give you the confidence to promote your offer because you know that it;s something they genuinely want.
So get 5 of your ideal clients on market research zoom calls and talk them through your offer and ask them for their feedback. Then use the insights from the calls to perfect it.
5. Promote your introductory offer through the people you know.
One of the mindset gremlins that usually pops up at this stage is ‘But I can’t think of anyone who would want to buy my services’. So if you’re thinking that right now, you’re not alone.
But that’s not the goal of this step. What we’re doing here is thinking about who the people in your network might know. And who they might know, which is exactly what I teach in my outreach onion process.
I always set my clients the task of finding 50 people to send their offer to and although they initially balk at that figure, they ALWAYS find them with this process.
To give you an example, my first 3 clients came from my friends posting my offer on their Slack boards at work and my 4th was my wedding photographer’s girlfriend!
Side note - 2 of those £50 clients are still clients to this day and I’m charging them A HELLUVA LOT more than that now. So this strategy really can work for the long term.
So, if you're ready to finally start that business so you can quit the corporate rat race, then my 121 coaching is for you. Together we'll co-create a super simple strategy to get you those paying clients without you having to do any kind of dancing on social media.
Book in a free discovery call today to find out how I can help you start and build your business and find that freedom and flexibility you're dreaming of.
Business Coach and Side Hustle Queen
Hi, I'm Lauren. I burnt out from the corporate world, hit rock bottom and used the experience to create my dream life.
Now, three years later I've quit corporate life to help start and grow over 40 female-founded businesses that are changing peoples’ lives, from coaching to marketing to interior design. Lets see if we vibe.