How to get your first successful client

The first client is more than the client

I once had a potential client come and consult with me about her luxurious product. She sold soap. And it cost R 50 per bar. She wanted to explore the option of an online store to increase sales. After digging a bit, I realised that she’s looking to make a quick buck, and isn’t really passionate about her business. 

I declined to engage in business.

I am writing this post for this reason – if this is your side hustle project, you need to decide what is worth your time and money. You get to choose what you love, who you want to work with and what fits into your vision. 

It’s about more than money. 

It’s about more than the client.

Why are you doing this?

Have you ever read those posts about “1 000 000 000 top side hustle ideas”…? People tend to sell you loads of ideas, but people get discouraged so quickly. Here are some examples:

  • Start a blog about open cast mining (whatever that is!) – and then people stop after the first post
  • Create Carolina reaper chilli chocolate to sell to restaurants – but you don’t like hot food, so you can the idea after your first batch
  • Selling tea to frugal people on Facebook – but you don’t like tea (who does?)

Many people are in it for the money only. 

Sadly, the money doesn’t come immediately.

And then they stop.

The reason why is central to our hustle: We need to love what we do. If we don’t, we will not have the passion to get going and keep going.

Make sure that you love what you’re doing in your side hustle.

Positioning yourself and your product/service

When you love what you do, you can start positioning yourself for greatness. Remember – you need to find your client where they are. They are out there somewhere, and your position in the market will help you find them. 

Positioning is such a big word, yet the meaning is simple: who is your ideal client?

Here’s an example – I run my own company in software development. My ideal client looks like this: 

Mr Capuccino is a business owner. He has a new startup and needs some custom code written. He doesn’t need funding and has the money available to understand his requirements, get the best fit for his new product and code the solution. 

A little story like this can help you understand who you need to attract.

Consider now where you will find this person. 

Does LinkedIn sound like a good match? How about Twitter? Do people search for this via Google or is this a word of mouth thing?

How would your customer go about finding you? 

Top tips for positioning yourself to be found

Here are some top tips for finding your first paying client:

  • People love a good story – Speak to everyone you know about what you’re doing. If you want to add it on Facebook and Twitter, that’s also okay. Don’t force them to buy though!
  •  Get involved in the community: If you’re a developer, go to meetups. If you sell magwinya, get to know the people where you want to sell. 
  • Collaborate with the competition – If you’re a financial advisor, then collaborate with people in the personal finance community and other FA’s. 
  • Be online. You need to be found online and on social media
  • Position yourself as an expert in the field – do talks online, write articles and blog posts, speak at conferences, and put your name out there.

Tips on finding clients

Here are some top tips in finding your first paying client:

  • Search: Check job boards, freelancing sites and marketplaces 
  • Offline networking: Make an effort to attend networking events, connect with other people that you don’t know
  • Check up on existing contacts – you never know if they might have new work coming up!
  • Setup a landing page and run google ads against it. See what response you get.
  • Partner with existing businesses – this might be as simple as renting a chair for a day a week at a salon or calling your ex-boss to give you work
  • If your work is digital, consider working at a co-working space a few days a week. 

Final thoughts

I know I’ve explained so much about what you should be doing, how you should segment the market, positioning, writing and and and… 

I do want to mention here that you need to offer something that is  “product-market-fit”.

This means that you need to make sure that what you’re building will add value to other people. Do your research and confirm that people will be willing to pay for it.

For example:

  • An app about specials would add value, but few would be willing to pay money for downloading the app and finding the specials 
  • Creating a tea community as a subscription service could get a few paying clients, yet the value that it adds and market size could be questionable


Let’s not lie – finding clients is challenging.

Getting your name out there can be difficult.

Don’t be discouraged though – keep going!

Happy investing!

Sources consulted


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