I get this question asked all the time. How will making more content lead to more or better clients?
There is a huge misconception that making content will attract only the people who want to learn how to do your work. There is truth in that for sure, but there’s also an important part missing from the picture.
First, let’s see what you need to get paid for your work.
Here’s how it usually goes:
First contact ➔ Have a meeting or a call ➔ Request for proposal ➔ Write proposal ➔ Present proposal ➔ Close the sale ➔ Get paid (50% upfront at least) ➔ Start working
Now, a disclaimer: I don’t have too much experience with client work, but I learned a lot from those who do. I will also tell you a story about a work I got from social media.
Let’s imagine a hypothetical scenario, and let’s say, you are a brand strategist. Let’s also say that you have been in business for 3 years, and you make $5–7k per month from strategy sessions, and identity design (if the scope of work gets extended).
You get most of your leads from referrals, and some cold outreach (emails or calls). The problem with such a system is that it is unreliable and mostly passive. And we all know how difficult it is to close a cold lead.
So, let’s think about how creating content could help you get new leads.
Broaden your influence and network
Your potential clients probably have designers working for them. Teach those designers about brand strategy, and you tap into those designers’ network. They will tell other people if they learned something from you. Clients also appreciate if you teach them something about branding they didn’t know. For example, you can explain that A Logo Is Not A Brand, like Chris Do did on his Instagram page. This is positive karma, and it will come back to you.
Network is who you know, influence is who knows you. There’s no harm in getting people to know you by teaching them something.
You may get invited to be a guest on a podcast, to do a workshop, or a public speech. I think those are pretty awesome even if you get $0 to do them. You will get known at least. And then, you will get paid for it.
Sharpen your knowledge
I think this is far the biggest benefit of making content. It forces you to understand your area of expertise better. If you constantly make content, you will see your blind spots and you can build your “get to know” list, things you have to learn in order to become better. Better at teaching, and better at your craft.
Maybe there are books you have to read. The community will send you shitloads of recommendations (excuse my language) that you can’t even keep up with. And some are really good books. Or videos. Or courses. You get the idea.
You will learn a lot from the comment section too. You will develop an intuition of what’s going on in the market. What’s hot, what are interesting problems to solve, and what content should you create next.
Establish yourself as an expert
There is no way to prove you have done those 10,000 hours to master a skill. Think about an expert that you know. They have probably taught you something for free. How to cook food. How to cook carousels. How to make a badass desk space like Matthew Encina.
When you teach somebody, they immediately label you as an expert in their head. We judge all the time, because it’s a survival mechanism. It’s better to be judged as an expert than an amateur, right?
A good way to establish your expertise is to build a following by teaching what you know and do. If you change nothing else in your lead generation process, think about who will be more truthful. Who will be the authority figure?
A brand strategist with a website, 5 testimonials and 400 followers on Instagram,
A brand strategist with a website, 5 testimonials and 10,000 followers on Instagram (plus valuable content and lots of “Thank you this is amazing!” comments in their feed.)
Social validation is powerful.
Also, think about a time when you hired somebody to work for you. Why did you hire them? I assume (and I don’t like assumptions at all), that it was because you tried to do what they do, and failed. Or you didn’t have time, and you needed the best solution.
People are information rich, time poor. Save their time by them not having to google information, or by being available to do the work for them. Both are valuable.
Having an audience will signal to your prospect that you know what the hell you do, and you are probably better than those who don’t have an audience. This means, that you can start racing to the top, and price your work higher than your competition. You are not competing with Fiverr, Upwork, or 99designs anymore. You are an authority figure with an established following.
Through your content, people will get to know you. And people hire who they know. Video content is the best for this, Audio is second, and written/visual only is the third in my opinion.
Network is who you know, influence is who knows you.
My $17k client work story
Let me tell you my story on how I closed my first big client to create content for. I run an Instagram page about exploring Mars. One day, I decided to host a live stream and answered a few questions from the community.
I got many comments during the live, and one of them came from AI Space Factory’s company account, a startup developing 3D printing methods to build habitats on Mars. Someone from the account wrote: “Great idea” “Love this mindset”, or some positive comments like that, I don’t remember correctly, this happened more than 5 months ago.
After the live, I immediately reached out to them to just say thank you for commenting on my live stream.
They replied it was a cool livestream and they enjoyed it. After a few messages back and forth, it turned out it was the CEO of the startup running their social media, and I offered my help to create content and strategize. After a few calls, we signed the contracts and we worked together for 2 months, for a total of ~$17k. In the meanwhile, they successfully funded their Indiegogo project with a $35,000 goal, and grew from 3k to 10k followers on IG (now they’re at 15k and growing).
I was not creating content to get clients, but it opened up an opportunity, and helped develop a relationship with many people in my niche and with similar interest. One of them became a client.
So yes, content does lead to client work.
Now, let’s see what else you might benefit from creating content.
Build more revenue streams
How much money do you need to make a living?
Based on Nomad List, you can make a living in most cities around the world for $3,000. (For NY they write over $5k, but for locals, it’s still around $3,000.)
Based on the example above, you currently make $5–7k from client work. How would your life change, if you would be constantly making $5,000 from other sources every single month?
Could you give yourself some breathing space? Spend more time with your loved ones? Travel somewhere every single month? Stop chasing clients and payments?
Let’s do some math here to see if it is possible.
People want to know how you do what you do. Let’s say you have no time to develop an online course. I’m fine with that for now. You don’t really need to. What you need is to find 100 people from ALL OVER THE WORLD, who would pay you $50 to join your coaching/mentoring group and learn directly from you.
If you created a closed Facebook group, where you host a 1–2 hour long live call every single week, can you find 100 people all over the world to tune in? For them, it’s $12.5 per call (4 weeks in a month), to spend at least 1 hour with you every week. To have themselves heard and mentored. To help them close better clients. To improve their sales process. Whatever you have learned, they want to learn it too.
If you cannot deliver $50 of value to each person in your group every month, then you might want to reconsider whether you are a good brand strategist in the first place.
Now, if you have 400 followers, it will be hard to find 100 people who pay you $50 per month. Not impossible, but hard.
Whereas if you constantly create content and build your audience, the bigger your influence, the easier it will become.
Network is who you know, influence is who knows you.
From 10,000 interested followers, who have already consumed a lot of your content online, I think it is possible to find 100 people to join your group. I’m certain you can find 10. And if they tell it to their friends, you will get to 100 pretty soon.
I understand some of you need to support a family, so $5k might not be enough, but I’m not proposing to give up your $5–7k per month client work. Not at all. This is just an idea to help you make more money.
If you spent one hour of your day, every single day to make tutorial videos, Instagram carousels, or a podcast, you would slowly start to build up your audience. I’m sure you can find one extra hour in your day. Yes, you might need to give up some leisure, but we’re talking about financial freedom here.
Now, once you start making content, you will slowly build up a huge content library. For example, I make carousels about growing an audience on Instagram almost every day, and my Keynote deck is currently at 360 slides.
Soon, I will start organizing them together into smaller, topic specific ebooks, that I might be able to sell for $10-$30, depending on the content, at no extra work on my end (or very little).
If I can sell one ebook per day at $20, that gives me an extra $600 per month. Not bad, and as my audience grows, more and more people will see the products I sell, and buy them. Compounding effect in action. I hope you get the point.
You can also put together an online course to teach how you run a brand strategy workshop. Price it at $500-$1,000, and teach people how you do it.
If your clients buy that course, and do it for themselves, you still made at least $500 for 0 minutes of work. That’s pretty awesome. Usually, they will not buy the course, or even if they do, it will be hard for them to actually do this type of work.
As Melinda Livsey said it: “It’s hard to read the label from inside the jar.”
When clients come to hire you, they don’t hire you for your ability to move pixels, or do any kind of predefined task. If they do, then you are racing to the bottom, because you have a big competition (Upwork, Fiverr, 99designs). And the race to the bottom is dangerous. Because you might win, and get a lot of cheap work, or even worse, finish second.
People hire you for your ability to solve their business problems and painpoints. To get a fresh perspective, an outsider view. Whatever you do for your clients, you must understand that YOU are the expert, not them. They may think they know what they need, but you need to put your thinking cap on, and help them realize their true goals and how to solve problems they may not even see.
So, by developing a course from the content you already made to grow your audience (and adding something extra), you can build another revenue stream. And the possibilities are endless.
Here are some other ways to monetize your audience:
Patreon, Digital Products (templates, worksheets, brushes, etc.), Affiliate marketing, Referral fees, Brand deals and sponsorships. There are probably some others too, like dropshipping, but it may not suit your audience. You have to be smart here, and find the best solution for them (and for you).
Here’s what to do:
I don’t want to leave you without action steps, or a simple list you can save in your phone notes, or at least take a screenshot and tweet it. (Please do, I appreciate it! Tag me @davetalas on Twitter and Instagram, so I can get back to you.)
- Make an Instagram Business account if you haven’t already.
- Publish content with the purpose of teaching people how you do what you do and what’s the mindset behind it. The best performing content on Instagram nowadays are carousels and videos, so pick the one that works the best for you. You can also mix them up.
- Optimize your content quality and hashtags until you start reaching new people consistenlty (Let’s say reach at least 40% non-followers with most of your recent posts. That’s a good indicator of a good profile.)
- Delete ghost followers and inactive accounts if necessary to revive your account. I used SpamGuard for this, and some of my clients used it too, and it works pretty well. Referral link included, thank you if you sign up. More on why and how to do this later.
- If your content seems to perform well, and people are leaving genuine comments, go ahead and buy shoutouts from the leaders in your niche. You might have to invest a few hundred dollars to do this. I recommend to start with pages that cost between $20-$50 per post shoutout and test the waters.
- Repeat the process, show up every day and teach people while you learn, or teach what you already know.
Go, make a ruckus!
I hope this article was helpful. In case it was, please share it with someone you think this could help (maybe a good friend who works with clients).
I am soon opening my mentoring group to the public. In this group, we talk about all the tactics, techniques, and juicy stuff about Instagram. The main goal is to help you grow your audience on Instagram, make better content, and hopefully, achieve something similar I talked about in this article. It’s not yet open (few weeks), but if you’re interested, sign up for my mailing list, and get a free Adobe Illustrator carousel template as a bonus. Thank you, I will keep you updated!
In case you need one-on-one help, I offer consulting and training calls, where I dedicate all my attention to you for an hour, and help you with any content related problem you might have. You can book an appointment here.
Thank you for the attention, I wish you all the best!