1. Attending trade shows and educational events
2. Networking on LinkedIn
3. Organic traffic from the Internet
Attending trade shows and conferences
My first foray into trying to get clients was to attend two mammoth trade shows: Natural Products Expo East and Natural Products Expo West.
This was a big expense, and luckily I had a high success rate. I got three clients the first time I went, and this launched my business. The second time I didn’t get any clients but I was still happy I went. Attending the conferences and trade shows was a lot of fun and extremely educational.
I also attended the Women’s Wellness Conference in California this year. I got one new client there. If you can swing it, I highly recommend attending one of these big shows at least once. But if you can’t, don’t worry. There are other ways to get clients.
The key is to attend any events you can, including local ones. Even if you don’t get clients, you’ll be learning about the industry in greater depth, which will help you write with more authority. If you do attend, try these techniques I’ve used to get clients at conferences and trade shows.
3 Ways to get clients from trade shows
1. Visit the booths. You’ll be amazed at the array of products, from organic and non-GMO foods, to every kind of supplement fit to put into a capsule, powder or gummy bear, to food products from around the world.
There are also beauty sections, ingredient sections, new products sections, eco & green products sections, and more. Just visiting the booths is an education in itself as to what’s going on in this rapidly growing industry. If you love healthy products, it’s like our Mecca. You’ll be gratified to know that the samples at the booths are actually good for you, and not junk food with nasty hidden ingredients.
I’ve been known to subsist for days on nothing more than fodder at the booths. I’ve munched and sipped my way through exhibits of green drinks, exotic cheeses, hummus dips, nut butters, and the occasional organic equivalent of snicker doodles. Of course I was compelled to sample all the decadent dark chocolate, as well as slather on aromatic skin lotions (all for testing purposes, naturally).
All the while, I was doing my market research, and talking to people at the booths. Keep in mind that these people were there to sell their products to retailers, not to talk to copywriters about marketing, so some were not receptive. But some were very happy to talk to me. In fact, at one booth a woman said, “We need your services,” and I landed my first job!
2. Network everywhere: At the conference, don’t just talk to people at the booths. Network everywhere you go. I found the best place to meet people is in the Starbucks line. For some reason, there are not enough organic coffee booths, or they don’t open early enough.
So everyone gathers at the Starbucks line, which snakes around the building. With nothing else to do (barring the people with their heads down over their cell phones), it’s a fantastic place to strike up a conversation with the person ahead of you or behind you in line.
It’s so easy to make a connection by asking why someone is at the trade show. They will invariably invite you to their booth. They will also ask you what you do, which is a perfect opportunity to describe what you do without overtly selling.
Tip: If they seem interested, be sure to get their business card, and follow up. They are unlikely to follow up with you, even if they take your card. I landed a client from a Starbucks line, and another one waiting in a mile-long taxi line at the end of the day.
In the taxi line-up, a woman asked me what I did. I told her I was a natural products copywriter (as of 5 minutes ago when I’d landed my first job!) She immediately said, “I’ve been looking for a copywriter. Here’s my card. Call me when you get home.” I did, and I got a copywriting client!
3. Attend educational events
Trade shows always have an educational program, sometimes the day before the trade show opens. The keynote speakers are frequently top-name health experts, such as alternative health doctors who have recently written books.
You need to stay on top of the trends in the market, both for your own knowledge, and to help your clients with their marketing. These educational events give you insider knowledge of what people are talking about, and what products are selling well.
I’ve learned about medicinal mushrooms, Omega-3s, and probiotics in far greater depth than I would have by researching these topics on my own or reading books. You can also make great connections at these programs, because everyone is sitting down quietly, away from the noise and bustle of the trade show booths.
It’s easy to strike up a conversation with the person next to you, and ask why they are attending the show and what they hope to get out of it. Just as in the Starbucks line, you never know who you’ll meet at an educational event.
Farmers markets, local events and health food stores.
If you live in an area with farmers markets, scout out the ones with organic produce. Strike up a conversation with the people at the tables, and find out if the person who grows the food is available. Often they are, and talking to the farmer can give you great insights into why they are growing organic foods, and the challenges they face. They may even need your help with marketing.
Your local health food store may have events with speakers talking about organic food, or how to stay healthy and fit. Attend the event for the information, as well as to network with like-minded people in your community. Strike up a conversation to find out why they are attending. This is excellent market research that you can use in your copywriting.
2. Getting found online
I get a fair number of clients just from the search engines. It took a while for my site to rank for keywords, so this is a longer term strategy, but well worth it.
I soon realized that people who find me on Google are often “price shopping for writers.” They ask me for a quote, and then I never hear from many of them again. They are actually shopping for the “lowest price writers” and I don’t want to be in that category.
That’s just as well, as I found that the people looking for writers with the lowest fees don’t appreciate the value that professional writers bring, and often turn out to be the most difficult clients.
I have to chase them to get paid, or they ask for endless changes or are just plain difficult or rude. This is definitely not the norm, and most of my clients are wonderful. But you quickly learn to weed out potential trouble-makers. You don’t need this stress in your life. However, I have also landed some great clients who find me from Google, so you need to be out there with your name and keywords.
LinkedIn: Your new best friend
Ok, so here is my secret to building a business on LinkedIn. It’s too big a topic to discuss every strategy, but here are the main ones.
1. Sign up, set up your profile, and optimize it with keywords. Fill out every section possible, with as much detail as you can about writing for the natural products or fitness markets. Use keywords everywhere, because people search by keywords. Check out my LinkedIn profile and connect with me. My profile isn’t perfect, but it’s more complete than many, and it brings me lots of leads.
2. Join groups. As of now, you can join 50 groups. Use this to your advantage by joining the maximum number. It’s easier than you think. Look for groups with your keywords, such as “naturopathy” “organic foods” or “fitness executives.” There are tons of groups in this industry.
Most groups are open, which means you can join right away. For some, you have to request to join. The group leader will check your profile to see if you actually work in the industry and then invite you in.
3. Participate in discussions. Add value by posting your articles, and articles of interest that you find online. Ask and answer questions, and connect with people. Never try to sell in the groups. It’s much better if people see that you have something to share, and want to connect with you.
4. Make connections. You can invite people to connect, and also accept invitations from people who want to connect with you.
5. Have a strategy. I use LinkedIn to get people into my sales funnel. This means I connect with them, and then send them a message asking if they’d like my free report (my lead generation tool). I send them the link to my signup box so they can get the free report, and they also join my newsletter list. A good number of people follow through, so they are now coming down my sales funnel.
In the message, I also offer a free 20-minute consultation on their website. A number of people take me up on this, and some of them become clients. This is my simple strategy, and it works. You just have to do this systematically, over time, and I promise you will get clients (as long as you deliver value.)
The holy grail of clients
They need to send out ongoing content to be successful.
Ka-ching! These are the best writing contracts to get, because you get regular income. Instead of worrying each month about finding new work so you can pay the bills, you know that a specific amount of money will come in from clients X, Y and Z – whew!
Read More: How to Create a Life Structure of Your Online Business