Episode 5. How to Get Your First Paying Clients

I got a direct message (DM) asking, “I’m wondering how you side hustle, running your business while remaining focused on your studies? Do you have any tips or advice on how to start making or generating income?” This is a very common concern! In the early stages of my business, I felt like I needed to do twenty different things at once and eventually got burnt out building my business.

Today, I’m sharing with you the three areas I wish I focused on in the early stages of my business, so you can start signing your first paying client and do it consistently.

In This Episode

#1 – Pick a business model and packaging your offer i.e. knowing what you offer 

#2 Decide what are the business activities that matter most for moving your business forward i.e. attracting prospects to your offer 

#3 – Selling your offer i.e. converting followers into paying clients 

1 – Pick a business model and packaging your offer i.e. knowing what you offer 

There are a lot of business models you can follow to build a successful business, such as a product business, creating a new software or app. There are no shortages of the types of services you can offer. 

However, from my experience, coaching or consulting business models are relatively quick to start and get going because you’re taking experiences and skills you already have and packaging it into a high ticket offer. 

We all have skills that can be turned into a service-based business, especially a coaching business. (Also, the terms coaching, consulting and mentoring can get quite blurred, and if I have to describe my own business model, I’d say it’s a mix of coaching + consulting + teaching.)

You can already start helping people with your experiences and skills

In this online industry, you can leverage the experiences and skills you already have to help people get certain results and transformations. You’re not required to have specific licensing, credentials or training in order to start helping people. A key determining question is: Do you have a set of skills or experiences that you can use to help people solve a problem or achieve certain outcomes, and this is something people are willing to pay you to help them with?

To the clients who you’ll be helping, your experience in helping people like themselves get results is far more important than the qualifications you may have. If you have the ability to get clients the results they’re seeking, that’s sufficient for a coaching business and the results you get for others is the qualification you need

This means one of the first things you need to do is to figure out what is the problem you help solve for your clients or what are the specific results you help people achieve through your coaching or consulting program.

For example, are you able to help clients negotiate a salary increase? Improve their romantic relationship? Lose X # of pounds? Pivot into a job that you love? Help you get into your dream college? 

Really think about what life will look like before and after people work with you. How will they feel after achieving that outcome? Get really crystal clear on this. 

If you’re stuck on this, one tip I have for you is to ask people around you what they think you’re good at, what your strengths are, and what they think are your strongest qualities or skills. Sometimes, it’s hard for us to assess ourselves, but people around us may be able to see things about us from a different angle that we ourselves aren’t able to see.

For example, in my 1:1 program The Side Hustle Club Hybrid 1:1 + Community Program, the end result I help people achieve is launching their online business and getting the first paying clients, and be able to do this consistently moving forward. 

All the # of coaching calls, the WhatsApp support, the worksheets and workbooks – All of these are just the things that will get my client from point A to point B, which is the end result that my clients are looking for. 

This is something I’ve been able to do for myself and help my clients do as well, and since starting my business in March 2019, I’ve been able to map out the exact steps that me and my clients have followed to achieve these outcomes. 

How to get clear on your offer and how you help clients

After you have an idea of what you could potentially offer as a service, I highly urge you to do market research to validate any assumptions you may have about your market. 

You may think you know what people want just because you have experienced this yourself, but it’s always a good idea NOT to take shortcuts and to speak with people similar to your ideal clients to clarify what it is that they care about, what’s holding them back and what are the words they’re using to describe their pain points and goals.

You’ll also need to consider how you’re going to help clients get to their desired result. What is the process you’ll walk them through? This requires reflecting back on how you were able to achieve these results for yourself and reverse engineering the steps you need to take your clients through. 

It’s important to know specifically who your offer is for, as opposed to trying to market your offer to everyone. By getting crystal clear on the specific problem you solve and who you solve this problem for, the right people are better able to see your messaging and it will click in their minds “Oh! This is perfect for me!”. 

Rather than simply talking about the features of your offer, you need to communicate both the benefits of each feature as well as the overarching value of the transformation your offer will deliver.

For each feature, you may want to articulate why that feature is important and relevant to your potential clients. Furthermore, think about the benefits of your offer.

For example, my 1:1 program The Side Hustle Club Hybrid 1:1 + Community Program, the benefits include: 
→ being able to sign consistent paying clients
→ acquiring skills that you can repeat and scale even if you make pivots in your business and life
→ creating 5-figure soft launches on just 0-2 hours a day by mastering the skill of soft launching
→ becoming known for your unique thought leadership
→ doing all of the above on top of a full-time job

Designing the logistics of your offer such as duration and features of your program

Determine the duration of your program

Be mindful of the time duration of your program. For example, if you want to have a 3 month program, what is a realistic transformation or set of results you can help clients achieve within that time period? 

Think about different durations for your program and see what’s most feasible for you in terms of helping clients get certain outcomes. For example, I’ve experimented with 6 week programs, 3 month, and 4 month programs, and I found that 4 months is the most optimal duration for me being able to help my clients not only launch their online business, but also get to a place where they’re able to sign on clients consistently. 

Really dig deep into your own experiences and recall how you were able to do it and what the process looked like. 

One thing to note is that you do NOT need to start creating video training or workbooks at this point. Rather, you need to get your first client and start supporting them through this step by step process that you’ve identified. 

For each of your coaching or consulting sessions, you check-in with each other and analyze their progress, what are the obstacles coming up, working through and mindset or practical or strategic challenges that may be happening, and strategizing the next steps your client can take to move closer to their desired results. 

Because you know what your client will have worked on during the time between your last call and your next call, you can plan ahead “Okay, what is the next step I can teach or support my client on in this upcoming session?”.

Of course, each person’s progress is going to vary from client to client, and overtime, you’ll develop a solid process that can consistently get repeatable results for your clients even if they have unique circumstances, personalities, schedules, etc. 

Create the features of your program

You also need to think about what’s included in the offer – the features and how the program is going to be run. When you’ve outlined the features and logistics, you need to price this offer. 

I do not recommend charging by the hour. Instead, you can charge based on the value you bring and the long term benefits and transformation that your clients will get. 

Doing so also means you’ll likely be attracting clients who are more committed to their results rather than someone who’s searching for a cheap quick fix solution. 

Think about how much is it worth to your client to continue on with their life after having achieved this transformation. What would life look like moving forward? That’s the value of your offer. Remember to focus on the value of the results.

1 – Action Steps:

  1. Pick a business model that works best for you
  2. If you picked a coaching or consulting business model, then you need to identify the experiences and skills you already have and can use to help others solve a problem or achieve results that you’ve created for yourself. 
  3. After this, conduct market research to validate your business ideas and make sure there is demand for your service. 
  4. Next, you should be able to identify the step-by-step process you’re going to walk clients through to get them to the results that they’re looking for. 
  5. Then, you need to package your skills and experiences into a package and be able to clearly articulate to others what is the value of the transformation you can offer. You’ll need to know exactly who you help, what you help them with, and the value of the results your offer will help people achieve.
  6. Finally, you need to figure out the logistics and features of your offer, such as pricing and the type of support you’ll provide.

#2 – Decide what are the business activities that matter most for moving your business forward i.e. attracting prospects to your offer

It doesn’t matter how gorgeous your website or your content are. Pretty doesn’t convert followers into paying clients. As much as I love my website cheryltheory.com, I know that it’s not a money maker in my business. 

A website is not something I encourage my clients to create especially if they’re just starting out. However, if my clients have the time capacity to set one up, we’ll put aside a bit of time to work on their copywriting and messaging, but we have clear boundaries for how much time we allocate to their website. 

We need to focus on the sales generating activities. There is a time and place for different marketing strategies such as building an email list, implementing a webinar sales funnel, building a compelling website. If you’re just starting out, you really need to evaluate what are your priorities right now especially if you’re a side hustler. You’re not here to work a second full time job. 

Focus on sales generating activities

If your goal is to get your first paying clients and to get clients consistently, then what are the sales-generating activities that will get you to this goal in the quickest way possible? 

The short answer: Putting yourself out there and making offers, instead of putting out a website and content and hoping people will find you.

If you ask me this, I’d say it comes down to getting in front of potential ideal clients and making an offer to them. This means not sitting around and waiting for them to come to you, so you’ll likely want to go to where your people are already hanging out online. 

For example, my audience tends to be on Instagram, they’re avid listeners of podcasts, and they also watch YouTube. These outward focused activities means actually putting yourself out there so you can meet and interact with people who may become potential clients.

To do this, you can block out time blocks in your calendar. 15 to 30 minutes a day is probably sufficient.

In the early stages of my business, I usually allocated no more than 30 minutes per day for 5 to 6 days a week to interact with people on Instagram and to participate in Facebook groups I believe my ideal clients are hanging out in. 

For example, I’d answer questions in Facebook groups where the members are actively engaging and asking questions, and I’d spend a bit of time each day to scroll through the new posts and comments and reply to those that I feel like I could add value to.

I also allocate time to creating content for my social media platforms. At the same time, I would also pay attention to common questions people are asking or common mistakes and misconceptions I’m seeing come up inside the Facebook group over and over, and then I’ll create content inspired by these common questions, mistakes, or misconceptions.

How to create content so social media doesn’t become your second full-time job

A similar dilemma I see new entrepreneurs struggling with is how much time they spend on creating content. Some people dedicate a lot of time to writing blog articles and creating podcast episodes or Youtube videos in hopes of generating traffic and leads to their offer. 

As much as I love creating podcast content, a blog, a podcast, and a YouTube channel are content that takes TIME to build. Unless you already have a large audience, focusing your time and energy on creating long form content like a blog, podcast, or YouTube may not necessarily be the best use of your time because they aren’t going to be your sales-generators right now. Instead, once you have the momentum going, they are very well going to become sales generating activities in your business.

If you’re starting out from scratch, I would recommend focusing your time on creating content that’s more accessible for new eyeballs such as social media content for platforms like Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook. 

In the beginning, I focused on putting out short, bite sized but still value packed content on social media platforms that lets me start conversations in the direct messages (DMs). 

I focused heavily on Instagram and Facebook in the beginning of my business because these were places that let me interact with potential clients and understand my audience’s wants and needs better so I can keep improving on the content I put out on social media.

You still want a consistent and compelling brand that convinces people you are serious business, but remember: You do NOT need to spend too much time on this. Just make a decision and move forward with the sales generating activities that will actually grow your business as opposed to building your own ego.

Managing your own expectations to avoid disappointment

I also want to mention that you should NOT be expecting to see clients overnight simply because you’re posting content and giving value. 

In the early stages, people need to see you multiple times before they feel like they can know, like, or trust you. One single post that gives value is usually not enough to convert someone into a paying client. Instead, it’s going to take multiple touchpoints.

So keep showing up and keep giving value without expectation of results. Your content is working. You showing up is working. 

These things take time and each touchpoint you have is furthering that know, like, and trust you have with people. So do NOT think that what you’re doing isn’t working just because it’s been one week or a few weeks and you haven’t seen anything happen yet. 

2 – Action Steps

  • Define the sales-generating activities in your business and differentiate that from nice-to-have or nice-to-do activities in your business
  • Get in front of your ideal clients, having conversations with them, and making an offer. This ties directly with area #3.

3 – Selling your offer i.e. converting followers into paying clients

There are different ways and places you can sell. I focus on selling in my own content or in conversations I have in the direct messages (DMs), but only with people who have explicitly shown interest and inquired about my coaching program. 

Regardless of whether you’re selling via your content or in real conversations you have with people, it’s important to understand the value of your offer and be able to communicate that value to people.

Sell your offers and sign your first paying client

You can’t just talk about the transformation you offer because chances are, there are a lot of people selling similar services as you. You should be able to communicate why your offer is unique or different.

Maybe your prospects have tried some of these things before and it didn’t work. So, what’s different about your offer that will help these prospects actually get results compared to those things that didn’t work for them? 

Your methodology doesn’t have to be anything fancy or advanced, it just has to make sense and work. For example, you can share how this method has worked for you and how you yourself have tried other things that didn’t work and eventually arrived at this solution. Here’s why it differed from other methods you’ve tried, and now you’ll use this methodology to help others as well because you know what you’re talking about and you’ve implemented this in your own way as well to get results. 

For example, let’s use my program The Side Hustle Club Hybrid 1:1 + Community Program as an example here, the reason why my program is going to get my clients the results in a way that’s different from other business coaching programs out there is because it’s: 
less work because we’re going to focus on the key needle moving activities in your business 
2) It’s time efficient because I specialize in helping side hustlers who have a demanding 9-5 or are in grad school to maximize the limited time they do have in order to build their business.
3) It works! It works because I’ve helped numerous clients get their first paying clients and I know this methodology works for side hustlers. 

We’re also not focused on marketing tactics like Instagram hashtag strategy or what not, instead, we really zone in on your brand, content, and messaging and leverage your story to attract and convert followers into paying clients.

My program also is unique and different because it is so systematic. My approach is extremely methodological and step by step, and my feedback to my clients is extremely analytical. I know this is a strength that’s quite unique in the business coaching space.

Really get clear on why your offer is unique and different from the other options on the market, and why your offer works for your specific target market. Don’t just state it – but explain why you’re unique and different, and why your methods work.

After you know what’s special about your program, what are the costs of NOT joining your offer and achieving this transformation? What’s it costing your prospects when they decide, “Uhhh.. Maybe now isn’t the right time for me to invest in this program.”? What are they missing out on in the short term and in the long term?

Let’s use my 1:1 program as an example here. When people come to me and tell me they want to start a business, but then they decide, “Well, maybe now isn’t the right time.”, I know that one of the following things will happen:

1) They try to do it themselves.
They consume a lot of free PDFs, podcasts, webinars, etc and hope that they can piece together a roadmap. – But oftentimes, you really don’t know what you don’t know. 

Yes, there’s a plethora of information available, but there’s a reason why business coaching programs like The Side Hustle Club Hybrid 1:1 + Community Program exist.

For instance, I’ve been in the trenches and I know what are the pitfalls to look out for. I also know how to coach you through self doubt, comparison, self sabotage, and any other mindset blocks and limiting beliefs that too often keep side hustlers stuck, not taking action, or even quit on their business simply because things got hard.

2) They never get started, and they keep dreaming about that business they’ve been wanting to start but they keep making excuses about why maybe it’s not possible for them or why now isn’t the right time. The reality is, these excuses and limiting beliefs are, sadly, going to be the reason why most people never get started on their business.

Sharing your own stories and testimonials

If you’ve helped someone get great results, you can share that and leverage these testimonials and case studies to bring in further clients. But, you need your first few clients to do that.

One thing I recommend is working with people for free, especially if you haven’t yet worked with anyone before this. After you’ve been able to help some people for free, share as much social proof and testimonials and client case studies as possible to help alleviate people’s concerns about whether you’re actually credible and whether they can trust you to help them get results.

One more tip I want to mention is to reflect on your own story and journey, and pick out the parts of your story that bring to light why you do what you do. Show your audience why you genuinely are excited and passionate about what you do.

Your story also brings your offer and business to life because it shows humanity and a personal side of your business and offer. Ultimately, you need to be good at what you do and your marketing, offer, and all the practical sides of your business needs to make sense. 

At the end of the day, if you are a personal brand or a solopreneur, people are choosing to work with you because of you. 

How to show up confidently on sales calls

Finally, you’ll likely also conduct sales calls with prospective clients who have inquired about your coaching or consulting program. 

During these conversations, it’s really important to understand whether your program is truly a good fit for them aka do you believe you can help them get results, and, if yes, are there any limiting beliefs that are preventing the prospect from committing to their goals? 

This usually manifests in the form of price objections, saying they need to think about it, not feeling sure if now is a good time, and other excuses that they tell themselves as to why they shouldn’t invest in your program because they’re not confident in themselves to get the results that they are seeking. 

Chances are, if they’ve already hopped on the call with you, they really want to achieve the goals or results that you’re able to provide and help them with. However, they’re likely unsure whether they are truly capable of achieving those goals and outcomes, and thus they’re scared to invest. 

Through practice, you’ll be able to coach prospects through their thought process and help them arrive at an informed and empowered decision, and that’s irrespective of whether they say yes to your program or not. 

The goal is not to coerce prospects into saying yes. Rather, you need to be firm in your own belief in your offer, communicate that as best as you can on the sales call, and walk people through their excuses and limiting beliefs as to why they shouldn’t move forward to their goals. 

Remember: A no is not a no forever. 

Later on, maybe the prospect will realize that they truly don’t want to stay stuck in their current situation anymore and realize that NOW IS the time to take action, so they may become a client later on. 

It doesn’t matter what the outcome of the sales call is as long as you are operating from a place of integrity and you genuinely believe in your offer and in helping people. 

3 – Action Steps

  1. Start actually selling your offer and inviting people to direct message (DM) you, apply to your program and check out your sales pages.
  2. Be able to articulate what makes your offer different and unique from other options on the market.
  3. In the same vein, you need to be able to articulate to your audience the costs of them not taking action and achieving this transformation.
  4. Use all the social proof and testimonials and client case studies you’ve acquired, even if they’re people you worked with for free, to show people that you are capable of helping them achieve results. 
  5. Your story is also a way to convey to your audience why you’re so damn excited about what you do, and it connects the dots for people in terms of explaining why you do what you do in your business. 
  6. Finally, hop on as many sales calls as possible so you can understand your audience better, their struggles and pain points, their desired results and goals, and any objections and limiting beliefs that hold them back from taking the next step forward. 

Remember you CAN build a business on top of a full-time job

Now you’re thinking all of this sounds awesome and you’re excited to start building your online coaching business, and next you’re probably thinking “Now I know the key three areas to focus on. If I want to start getting my first paying clients, what are the actual steps within these three areas I should be doing?”

Remember, your coaching, consulting or mentoring program does not have to be complicated even if you’re in a 9-5 and are tight on time. If you want to speed up the process and not get stuck along the way, my 1:1 program The Side Hustle Club Hybrid 1:1 + Community Program could be the right program to help you launch your online coaching business and start signing on clients consistently so you can grow your income and impact, even as a side hustler.

Listen to the Episode

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Sign consistent clients and create 5-figure soft launches on just 0-2 hours a day by mastering the skill of soft launching, becoming known for your unique thought leadership, and doing all of this on top of a full-time job ✨✨✨

Besides signing clients, soft launching also helps you to:

✨ Increase visibility and be seen as a thought leader, even in a saturated niche

✨ Add more structure to your business

✨ Do your business on just 0-2 hours a day

This is how we scale our business to 6 figures while side hustling.

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