How to Get Your First Client With No Portfolio?
On Jan 20, 2019, K. asks:
I'm trying to build experience in long-form content (blogs, eBooks, etc.). One of my current clients recommended me to someone who is looking for long-form writers. I introduced myself and sent a link to my website, which is about 80-90% short-form writing examples (social, email, paid, other oddball digital campaigns). I do have experience with long-form, but it’s not as deep as my short-form. Eventually, I’ll have more long-form examples when another client publishes content I’ve written, but it might be a week or two before that happens. After reviewing my work, this lead seems skeptical (understandably), even with the recommendation from another client.
What would you do?
Man, I've been there - it's a tough chicken and egg situation for sure. You know you can deliver value, but the potential client doesn't have enough confidence that you can do the job and you don't have proof of results to show them.
There are a couple of ways that I've had success with this in the past. I'll outline them here for you, and hopefully, this might help you find a way forward.
1) Build Your Portfolio - When you're first starting to offer a specific service, and you need to get your first client, it helps to create an initial portfolio that you can reference. If you don't have anything yet, consider offering your services for free to a few initial clients in exchange for testimonials. This method allows you to build your portfolio to show to new prospective clients and the testimonial is a bonus that you can tack on. Once you have these few clients completed and you have your portfolio and testimonials, you've got exactly what you need to land new clients in the future. I don't typically work for free, but in this case it makes sense to do it strategically at first. When I started my first web development company this is how we got some of our initial clients. Not to mention, those clients ended up being paid clients in the future too!
2) Offer a Guarantee - This one's a little riskier, but if you're confident in the value you can deliver, offer a guarantee that's a no-brainer for the potential client. An example of this might be "I'll write your long-form posts for $x. If after I deliver the content, you're not satisfied with the work, I'll refund your money 100%." This guarantee removes their risk and gives you an opportunity to prove your worth. Then, if they don't end up using your work, you now at least have a portfolio piece you might be able to use. It doesn't have to be a money back guarantee, but rather your goal is anything that will alleviate the risk on the part of your potential client. I've run this in the pay per click space where I offered to not only run paid ads for clients free for 30 days, but I'd also pay for their ad spend to show the results. I had a 100% close rate with the three clients I pitched to and then used those as case studies.
Thanks for the question K. - I hope this helps!