I didn’t always know how to get paying clients into my coaching side hustle.

In the beginning, I was completely overwhelmed. I was full of imposter syndrome thinking ‘Why would anyone work with me when there’s so many other more experienced coaches out there?

I listened to all the ‘experts’ telling me the only way to get clients was with an Instagram strategy, but I didn’t want to post on social media in case my work found out. I thought they’d think I was skiving & maybe even let me go.

And what’s more, I didn’t have the confidence to charge people.  I’d only ever worked in non-sales roles, so the thought of asking anyone for money was absolutely terrifying.

So I worked with people for free, which was fine initially, but sooner or later these ‘clients’ stopped attaching value to the sessions. They’d either turn up late or not show up, which made me feel crap & they weren’t getting much out of them either.

But then I realised something.

Over the years in my corporate job, I’d built up a network full of people who might know people who wanted to work with me. So why was I fixating on Instagram, when I could be using my network to find clients instead?!

You see, whilst social media CAN eventually be a really lucrative way of getting paying clients, when you’re first starting out it just overcomplicates everything.

Unless you’re an expert, trying to learn how to sell on social media is like trying to learn a whole new language on top of starting a business. Plus the fact that trying to grow an engaged following of people who want to buy from you takes a looooooong time. It eventually took me 3 years (and I was a former Head of Social Media!)

But when I finally figured out HOW to attract clients through my network alone, that’s when my business really started to sky rocket.

Here’s how I did it:

1. Decided on a starter niche  

Because I’d worked in marketing for 15 years, I knew just how important niching was. So, when I was starting out I spent hours worrying about it, downloading all the freebies, furiously trying to work out who the hell I wanted to work with. I had a couple of ideas for it, but because I wasn’t 100% sold on it, I shied away from getting paying clients because I thought I needed to make that big decision before I could put myself ‘out there’.

But what I didn’t realise is that it’s perfectly OK if your niche changes over time. In fact it most probably will. In fact, the best advice I ever got from my coaching mentor was to just start. Start with the barebones of a niche idea. Start working with people & your true niche will find you.

So I did that and then dug into the pain points and desires of my ideal client within that niche, to really start understanding how I could help them.

2. Created a ‘Beta Offer’  

Next, to help build my confidence to start charging, I created a BETA offering with an introductory discount. This helped in three ways:

My fear started to dissipate as my mindset changed from ‘I’m launching my Business and it HAS to be a roaring success’ to a much more experimental ‘I’m just throwing spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks’.

I felt far less pressure because the BETA positioning and the introductory discount meant your potential clients had far lower expectations.

My confidence grew because the no-brainer discounted price made it easy for people to sign up and got me testing out your services quickly.

By starting with the problems my ideal client was facing, I was then able to create a solution that solved them, rather than just something I wanted to sell.

3. To work out my discount. I needed to find a pricing sweet spot that was low enough to make it a no-brainer deal for people to help me get working with as many people as possible. But it also needed to be enough to not completely devalue my services.

4. Did Market Research with my ideal client 

Instead of blindly putting my offer out and hoping for the best, I decided to do market research with my ideal client to validate it.

I got 5 people on Zoom calls and asked for feedback on my offer and also asked them questions to validate my thoughts around their pain points and desires.

This not only gave me a ton of insights that helped me improve the offer, but I also got a lot of confidence knowing that it was something people  genuinely wanted.

5. Promoted it through my network alone 

I then set myself a goal of finding 50 people in my network to send my offer to, in the hope that they would pass it on to their networks.

I started by brainstorming all the possible people within various categories (friends, family, colleagues, people I knew socially, etc) and sent it to them, asking them to pass it on.

And the result? 

I landed my first 6 clients in less than 4 months without posting a thing on social media. My first 3 clients came from my friends posting my offer on their Slack boards at work and my 4th was through my wedding photographer!

And I know you might be thinking ‘Well this sounds great Lauren, but I just don’t see how that’s possible for me’. But let me stop you there.

I’m no different to you. I had no special skills that you don’t, just a helluva lot of drive and determination. You are just as capable as I was, so stop playing small.

Over the last 4 years, I’ve coached over 80 women to start their businesses in exactly the same way, so if they can do it, you can too.

And if you’re ready to get your first paying clients into your side business now, you can download my free Step by Step Guide to Starting your Business (without Social Media).  

It’s a 10-page workbook that takes you through the above steps in detail and helps you create your own Beta offer with an Introductory discount and get paying clients through your network alone. 

P.S. Whenever you’re ready, here are 3 other ways I can help you start and grow that coaching business:

  1. Follow me on Instagram for oodles of inspiration, tips and slightly sweary real talk about starting and growing your business.
  2. Listen to my podcast ‘Quits & Giggles’ The show that empowers you to quit your 9-5 and work for yourself.  I share my own actionable insights on how to start and grow a service-based side business, as well as interview incredible women who’ve taken theirs full time.
  3. Join my free FB group ‘Side Hustle Success’

Connect with other badass women going through the same thing you are.  It’s where aspiring female entrepreneurs chat all things offers, marketing, mindset and more. Click here to join the fam.

About Lauren 

After burning out and being signed off from her corporate job, Lauren Leopold realised she’d been in the wrong career for 15 years. At her lowest point, she had a lightbulb moment. What if she could use this experience to support other women going through the same thing? She trained to become a coach with The Coaching Academy on the side of her job. Now, four years later Lauren has quit corporate life to help launch and grow over 80 female-founded businesses that are changing peoples’ lives, from coaching to marketing to interior design.