by Donna Amos | Featured Contributor
There are tons of ways solopreneurs can make money online and offline, thanks to powerful digital technology, affordable mobile devices and the internet. And many of these micro-businesses can be started on a shoestring budget of under $1,000 – or even under $100! As long as your lead generation efforts are bringing in new customers, there’s virtually no limit to how quickly you can scale your side hustle into a full-time business.
You might be a blogger and vlogger, creating content for your subscribers on your website and social media accounts, making money through ad revenue and affiliate marketing.
Or perhaps you could do freelance work offering B2B services to local small businesses.
Or you might run a small brick-and-mortar biz out of your garage or public storage unit, selling products via online marketplaces like Amazon, eBay and Craigslist.
You can also provide services directly to consumers as an independent contractor and through online apps like Uber, Postmates, Rover and TaskRabbit.
As a solo entrepreneur, you have tons of options today. But whichever path you choose for your lifestyle business, you will need a steady flow of new customers coming in every month in order to be successful.
So with that in mind, here are five lead gen tips to help you get more clients and more sales this year. Most of these methods are designed to bring in new leads online, but there are also some offline guerrilla marketing tactics here that still work really well for certain types of solo businesses.
1. Optimize Your Website to Capture Leads
Before you start investing time and money trying to scrape up traffic to your website, first make sure that your site is ready to receive those new visitors and convert them into subscribers, leads and paying customers.
Give your website visitors and blog readers plenty of opportunities to subscribe to your mailing list and receive free blog content, updates, and promotions. You should have subscriber boxes and contact forms on every page of your site. In fact, having multiple forms on each page isn’t a bad idea. Make use of your site’s header, footer and sidebar areas along with including custom lead capture forms on landing pages and service pages.
You should also have free lead magnets set up on dedicated landing pages in order to build your email list. These lead magnets, such as ebooks, infographics, and reports, are powerful tools for quickly grabbing new subscribers.
Then you could also segment your list based on reader interest and engagement and set up custom email funnels for each group to minimize unsubscribers and spam reports.
Remember, it’s not always about the hard sell. Sure, some people on your site are ready to buy, so you should make it easy for them to do so without having to click on a million links to find the “Buy” button. But most of your site visitors aren’t yet ready to whip out their credit cards – they’re just browsing or killing time on their lunch break.
So if you can catch their interest, offer some free value with your blog content and lead magnets, then you can at least get them into your email funnel and social media channels to start building a relationship with them that will eventually pay off for you and them.
2. Buy Ads on Google and Social Media
Compared to old-school marketing strategies like TV and radio spots, billboards, magazine ads, and late-night infomercials, digital ads on Facebook, LinkedIn and Google are way underpriced.
Unlike “Big Media” advertising in the old days – when national ad campaigns could easily cost millions of dollars per month – you can start running social media ads for a couple of hundred bucks.
And if you target those ads effectively, you can actually start seeing results in no time.
3. Collaborate to Build Authority and Reach
There are tons of ways to build relationships with other influencers in your niche and piggyback your brand message onto their content and vice versa in order to rapidly expand your audience, brand recognition and industry authority. Here are just a few ideas on how you can get started:
– Guest blog posts
– Podcast interviews
– Youtube video collaborations
– Live local meetups
– Online hangouts
– Charity fundraisers
By offering time, content and value to other influencers, charities and brands in your industry and related industries, you can quickly reach new markets and new customers who have never even heard of you but are part of your target market.
The secret is to choose influencers that are a good fit and then give plenty of value first before asking for something in return. Don’t just spam a bunch of influential bloggers and brands who are light years ahead of you and expect them to jump at the chance of featuring you on their blog or podcast. Reach out and spend some time becoming a part of their communities. Contribute first – genuinely and sincerely – before asking for anything for yourself.
If you give and give and give some more, and assuming you are building a great brand that offers tons of value, you’ll find plenty of collab opportunities eventually beating down your door. That’s when your reputation and reach will begin to expand exponentially.
4. Go Where Your Clients Like to Hang Out
The tricky thing about the internet is that you can reach just about anyone and get your brand and your content in front of them – but you have to know where to look.
Facebook ads can be super-effective, but only if your target customers hang out on Facebook every day. If they’re usually on TikTok and Youtube but only have a neatly-scrubbed-but-never-used-dummy-account on Facebook to please their nosy parents, then you’re wasting your money on all those Facebook ads.
Once you’ve located your target market and the platforms, forums, subreddits and social media groups where they spend their time, you can then start pouring your ad spend into the places that make sense.
But don’t think that you can’t reach them without paid ads. Joining those groups and forums and contributing helpful ideas for free pays off too. You just need to follow the rules and avoid coming across as spammy and overly-promotional. If you take your time to build relationships and offer value first, you’ll get plenty of chances to slide into those DMs and actually pick up leads that convert.
5. Pass Out Flyers and Business Cards Like Crazy
While the internet is all the rage these days, there are still some very effective ways to grow your solo biz and get sales without plugging in. Yes, we’re talking about flyers and business cards. It turns out that people still use them. If you’re operating a business that sells to local customers, then door-to-door flyer marketing might work really well, and it’s great because you can target your location easily.
And of course, no matter what kind of business you run, you should always have a few business cards in your pocket. Because every conversation is a chance to grab another subscriber and work on converting them into a customer.
Here’s an example.
If you’re starting up a lawn care company like this kid, with a few bucks you can have someone on Fiverr design a 8.5” x 5.5” flyer. Make sure it has a distinct discount coupon code to distinguish it from other deals you are offering through online ads or other marketing methods. Then email the file to your local print shop, go pick up the flyers and hire someone on Craigslist to pass them out to every house and business in your service area.
Solopreneurs have so many options for creating online and offline businesses today, and the low cost of entry makes it ridiculous for anyone to not take a shot and start one – or two or three. As long as you’re offering a product, service or content that helps people, you’ll be able to grow an audience and make money by selling to that audience. If you’ve already got your biz up and running but aren’t getting a lot of clients, try these five lead generation strategies so you can get more sales.
Donna Amos is passionate about helping Solopreneurs grow their business using everything digital and publishing. She has 30 years experience in sales and marketing for small business. She believes the best gift you can give another is a word of encouragement.