In some parts of the world August is a reminder that a school year is about to begin. While teachers at traditional schools sharpen their pencils, online teachers begin looking for more clients.
If you’re your own boss, client search might be scary and overwhelming. It calls for courage as you overcome your fears of reaching out, failing, trying out yet another strategy, and learning to accept any outcomes.
In an attempt to avoid the unpleasant discomfort of looking for more clients we do the bare minimum and hope it works: one post on Facebook, one haphazard newsletter, one mention to a friend.
You might be ready to get 10 or 12 high-paying clients, but is your effort comparable to the goal you have set? To quote Alexandra Franzen, “instead of making a full-hearted effort to get what you want, you made a half-hearted effort. Or a quarter-hearted effort.” (it’s from this book).
So before we dive into the subject of finding more clients, let’s set an intention to give our full-hearted effort to the task ahead of us. It’s definitely scary but in the end we will grow and will overcome unhelpful mindset blocks.
Strategy 1: Bring more clients through friends.
I know that the last thing you want is to turn into that friend who started selling recyclable food containers and now lives to talk about recyclable food containers. To encourage all the introverts like me – you don’t have to pitch in a conversation! Use email or messenger.
Sending an email with your request is easy because your friends can forward it to their friends with one click!
Here’s a handy template:
I hope you’re doing well [adding a personal detail to your first sentence will make it sound less robotic and spammy]!
I wanted to write a quick email and let you know that I’m looking for new clients who need help [putting together their resumes/learning French for a trip/improving their conversation skills, etc.]
If you know of anyone who might be interested in these services, please forward this email to them (or send them this link to my free session) [choose 1 easy way for your potential clients to contact you].
If you don’t have such friends at the moment, no worries. I appreciate your time and hope we can catch up soon! [to make your request less threatening, let your friend know that there’s no pressure for them to work as your marketing agent. People are much more likely to help when they don’t feel cornered].
Strategy 2: Contact your past clients.
Take a look at your client scheduling software or your online calendar. If you’ve been teaching online for some time, you will find a couple of dozen potential clients who either took classes with you in the past, did 1 free class or participated in your group events (book clubs, workshops, etc.)
Start by reconnecting with 5-10 people at a time. Write to as many people as you can comfortably follow up with in 1 week. I know that writing and following up may feel like “bothering” people. Such framing can keep you from reaching out to people.
If you tell yourself that by following up you’re bothering people, you’re not going to put in the effort you need to get results. But if you tell yourself that you’re helping busy people remember to respond to you, you will most likely find your recipients grateful.
Here’s another template:
I hope you’re doing well [add a personal note to make it sound less spammy].
I’m currently back to teaching online and was wondering if you’d be interested in [a specific thing this person might like – reading a book, watching a movie, learning to speak with confidence, etc.]
Right now I’m putting together a program that focuses on [that specific skill] and knowing that you enjoyed it in the past I thought I’d invite you.
Let me know before [specific date – it gives the person a sense of urgency] so I can send you the catalog early.
If you can’t join this time, I’m totally fine with that. [take away the pressure of commitment and your client’s fear of disappointing you by giving them a clear permission to say no].
I hope to hear from you soon!
Strategy 3: Bring more clients by changing the way you work.
Sometimes committing to more clients means spending more time in front of the computer, and if you’re maxed out then it’s not the best strategy.
But who said you need to enroll everyone to work with you in a traditional 1:1 lesson setting where you trade your time for money? There are different ways of teaching online outside of the 1:1 format. Now might be a good time to try it out.
If you can’t imagine how anyone can learn a language without seeing a teacher once or twice a week, my workshop can help you open up your imagination.
The best part about swapping 1:1 to 1:∞ is it gives you a chance to organically increase your prices. Many online teachers tend to underprice their 1:∞ packages because they believe there’s some unspoken “effectiveness hierarchy” when it comes to learning, with private coaching at the top and group programs at the bottom, but it’s not so.
Often it’s in the group programs that we get more motivated to keep learning and tracking our progress. And the questions others ask on their journey may increase our awareness of things we didn’t know. If anything, group learning is a lot more effective than private.
If you’re ready to increase your pricing with confidence and consistency, this mini-course may help you create your own strategy.
Strategy 4: Contact your customers and offer them your coaching services.
If you have sold books or online courses, is there something you can offer to your customers? Linda Riolo did just that! She currently sells podcast scripts on her website, and one day she decided to offer a speaking program to her customers, based on a select number of podcasts.
It ended up a win-win! Linda didn’t have to create new materials, and her customers, who loved her podcast already, joined the program to connect with others and practice their speaking.
If you have a product that you’re already selling, think how you can enhance this experience by adding a coaching or community component. If you don’t have a product yet, maybe now is the time to start thinking about it?
Strategy 5: Bring more clients through a free (or low-cost) event.
It can be a workshop, a webinar, a masterclass or a conference. Come up with a creative name, put together a quick sign-up page on Gumroad, Acuity or Podia (the latter 2 might require a paid subscription for group events), and ask your teacher buddies to help you spread the word.
You can run a free in-person event in your area and sell tickets using Meetup or Eventbrite. While live meetings can be nerve-wracking, they are a shortcut to sales. People see you and interact with you, and it gives them a better understanding of how you (and not someone else) might help them.
Sometimes you may be able to reach a new audience through a webinar. Lucy Samuels led a workshop through a different platform, and was able to sell her products that way. Read her story here.
I hope these tips were helpful. Before I sign off here, there’s one question you need to answer before setting out to get more clients.
Do you really need more clients?
And that is the 1-million-dollar question! Because you don’t have to have more clients to have a more profitable business. What you do need is the ability to work smarter with what you have and in the end produce more with less.
After all, anyone can make more money by working more – nothing radical here. But can you make more by working less? That’s where smart online teaching is crucial. More isn’t always better, especially since it leads to burnout and mental breakdowns.
Smarter is the goal, and by starting where you are and using what you have, you’re making your first smart step towards a future you want.
If you’re curious about a variety of ways you can teach smarter, check out my free Smart Teacher’s Kit!