6 steps I followed to get hundreds of new clients — without spending a dime on advertising or marketing

In over six years in business, Jen Glantz has found hundreds of clients without spending money on advertising or marketing.

Jen Glantz is an entrepreneur and founder of the company Bridesmaid for Hire, and she works as a professional bridesmaid in the weddings of complete strangers.

When launching her business in 2014, Glantz didn’t have the money to spend on marketing and advertising, so instead she spent time learning strategy and social media to become her own PR person.

She says it was key to establish her personal brand and provide certain content for free, like blog posts and social media, in order to attract potential paying customers.

Now, Glantz has developed a base of ‘superfan clients’ who recommend her to friends and family, and has also established relationships with other pros in the wedding industry who connect her to their own clients.

When I started Bridesmaid for Hire in 2014, I didn’t have much money to put behind launching and scaling as a business. But I did have time. I’d recently been laid-off from my full-time job as a copywriter, and knew that I had to make my new business work, even without much of a budget.  What I lacked in financial resources, I decided to make up for in mastering knowledge that I could use to become my own marketing department. I spent time learning social media strategy and PR. I even researched other businesses, in all types of industries, and put together a master plan of how to use viral tactics and customer satisfaction to level up and expand my business, all for free. Over the past six years, I’ve worked with hundreds of clients without spending a dollar on advertising or marketing. Here’s exactly how I did it so far. When you first start a business, a lot of trouble in getting new customers lies in people needing to trust you, especially when you’re the one providing the service to them. That’s why I turned to my personal brand, which consisted of years worth of blog content, a social media presence, a website, press interviews, and more. This allowed potential customers to get to know me and my reputation, apart from just my new business.

Everyone needs a personal brand. Start by understanding your value, skills, and story. Then communicate that consistently across multiple platforms, starting with a website and one to two social media channels.People like to do business with people they can relate to and know. That’s why your personal brand will help attract new customers who might be wary of taking a chance on a business they just discovered. 2. Do your own PRGetting featured in news articles and going viral multiple times helped me bring in new customers on a monthly basis. I never hired a PR firm and instead found ways to pitch media myself. I started out by researching and creating a long list of media outlets I wanted to be featured on, and then learned what kind of stories they like to focus on. Then I adjusted my pitches to each of these press outlets and followed up with them, many times, to get feedback and eventually get featured. By doing this, I’ve been featured in over 250 press outlets in the last six years.

Create a wishlist of places you’d like to be featured on, then do your research and craft a pitch that is relevant to what their audience will care about and what will make a good story for them to run with. You can also use tools like Help a Reporter Out (which is free) to get an understanding of what reporters are looking for from sources. Read more: How 3 people who freelance while working a full-time job bring in thousands a month on the sideAlthough I was eager to make money when I started my business, I realized that I also needed to create constant value for my customers and oftentimes that came in the form of free value.I decided to write weekly blog posts and create advice videos on YouTube so that every time someone found out about my company (through press or social media) they could consume tip-based content for free. This was my way of providing credibility for the business and value for the customer.