here’s a few suggestions of how to get clients without spending a penny on advertising:
- Conquor the Search Engine Listings (google / yahoo / MSN) for a particular relevent term/keyword e.g. “web design on saturn” (using a combination of good on-site and off-site SEO, clean markup and lots of inlinks..)
- Write articles on your given topic of expertise - publish them on your site. they will get indexed on google, and if they are good they will get you some inlinks (if promoted correctly) - which is good for search engine rankings.. and may gain you some extra credibility when someone glances at your site. Maybe publish them on a blog for simplicity (and easy syndication).
- Participate in online forums relevant to your line of work - whether its web design, web development , website optimisation forums, an online business forum or whatever.. when you participate on these forums, you can add a signature to your posts which might assist your search engine positions - and it will make your name more well known. If people like what you have to say - they might link to your articles - offer you some collaborations if they like what you do - or even put work in your direction because they are too busy. I cannot stress enough how valuable I have found it to be mingling with others in similar lines of work online..
-Sign up to a business social networking network such as LinkedIn - you can sign up for free and can easily make your services and skillset known to masses of businesses (and perhaps some of your former colleagues might post a nice reference in your profile..
-Collaborate - collaborate with a designer if you are better as a developer - often if the dynamics are right, collaboration fosters future jobs - designers often get asked to make websites - so who better to split the deal with than you? they design, you develop.. or whatever..
Portfolio - make sure you have a tasty portfolio to show clients. your business homepage should exhude excellence and should itself be a trophy piece in your portfolio.
Freebies - Initially offering your services for free for a small project or two (in exchange for exposure in the form of a link or piece of blurb) is also an option.
it is important to note that part of your job is getting clients - the other part is retaining the clients (and of course if you retain them you don’t need to put so much energy into getting clients :))- One good idea is to try to get clients to sign up for monthly maintenence/updates for a small fee. This often keeps them coming back for more jobs because hey - they are already giving you money - why not just give you more.