Back Office Secrets
with Jenny Shih

3 Steps to Get More Clients, Sell More Products, Make More Money

You’ve got what most people want: work you love.

But doing work you love can come with certain sacrifices. Namely, cash flow.

If you’re like most entrepreneurs I know, the beginning of your business journey was rough, really rough. Like, can-I-really-do-this rough.

Unfortunately, it’s easier to imagine the success than turn that dream into a reality. But it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try.

In fact, you should try, and keep trying, because I truly believe it’s possible to make a living doing what you love (given that what you love is something other than watching Lost reruns on Netflix).

But “trying” can be tricky. You could “try” all day on Twitter or Facebook and never make a penny. You could “try” to follow all the random advice online about making your business work but not see tangible results.

That’s why I prefer a more practical approach.

Although not fancy or glamorous, this practical approach seems to work. The 3 steps I explain below are a big part of what I did to reach 6 figures in 18 months. They’re the steps I teach my private coaching clients. They’re the steps that get results.

So if you’d like to make a living doing what you love, here’s the practical, yes-it-works approach. You don’t have to “try” to make it work. You just do it.

Here goes…

Step 1: Establish a Solid Foundation

If you’re doing business online, I’m sure you know that you need to have the basics: a website with solid offers (products or services people can pay you for!), a blog, and an email list. These things are pretty obvious, especially if you are hanging out here at LKR Social Media.

They are essential to making money online, but having them doesn’t guarantee you’ll make a single penny.

What you do once you have these things in place is what brings in clients, customers, and cash. The next step in my practical, yes-it-works approach is to be of service.

Step 2: Be of Service

To be of service simply means you offer your genius ideas and advice for free in small doses. This isn’t just about providing great content on your blog. It means going out into the world where your people hang out and helping them there.

Here are some places and ways to start being of service to your target audience.

  • Answer questions in Facebook groups
  • Host an open Q&A session on your Facebook fan page or on Twitter
  • Answer questions on LinkedIn
  • Guest post
  • Host free calls and share your best stuff
  • Leave helpful comments on others’ blog posts (you never know when someone reading those posts may need to hire someone just like you!)

The more you openly and freely you share your expertise with others, the more people will be interested in what you have to sell. They think, “If they’re that amazing giving away free advice, how awesome would they be if I pay them?!”

Being of service consistently brings new clients my way, but the second factor that keeps my client roster full is having an ever-growing email list.

Step 3: Build Your List

You’ve likely heard that building your list is important for creating and sustaining a profitable online business… and it is!

Having a list of people who have given you their email addresses saying, “Yes! I want to hear from you!” means you have a list of people who are interested in what you offer. That means they could potentially buy from you. Yes, it’s that simple.

Once you have a solid business foundation and are out in the world being of service, your top focus should be building your list. Because everything you do to build your list will also bring in new clients and customers. Tweet that!

In fact, I found that once I got my first 1000 subscribers, my business and my income clicked into place. I was making money doing what I loved, and that’s what we all want, right?

The Bottom Line

The reality of creating a profitable, online business is straightforward: build a solid foundation, be of service, and build your list.

You can love your work and make a living doing it. Start with these three steps, and you’ll be well on your way.


Need more actionable advice?
Get your FREE weekly marketing “to-do” list
straight to your inbox every Wednesday:
About Jenny Shih

Jenny Shih of is a coach and consultant for small business owners. Her clients are “idea factories” with growing businesses who need help planning, strategizing, streamlining and systematizing. She helps new entrepreneurs define their niche, learn the basics of marketing, and start making money. And she helps experienced entrepreneurs set up systems so they can get out of the daily grind and spend more time doing what they love.

Jenny is the author of The System Flight Kit, everything you need to create effective systems in your business, and The Idea Flight Kit, a step-by-step guide for turning your ideas into something real. Download your copies right here. They’re FREE!


  1. Always great laser-focused advice from Miss Shih! Thanks for the bullet points on offering free value. Excellent ideas!

  2. Great post Jenny! I have to admit I think Step 2 is the hardest for me. Not because I don’t like sharing my knowledge but finding the time to get out to various social media and web 2.0 channels out there on a regular basis. I start to feel guilty that I am not spending that time on the clients I currently have.

    I’m a newbie but I’ve put together a marketing plan next year to roll-out a different “marketing effort” each month, but I don’ t know what to expect in terms of how long it will take to see some results.

    I also think I have a slight case of analysis paralysis but it’s really hard to determine when what you are currently doing is working or if you should stop doing it and try something else. . ..

    Any thoughts??

    • Jenny Shih says:

      Good point about balancing clients with being of service. My suggestion is to always serve your paying clients first. Focus on them because they are your customers and a great source of future customers. Then, eek out the time for being of service to others. For me that’s sometimes a few minutes a day or occasionally an hour, but sometimes a week goes by and there hasn’t been time. That’s okay!

      As far as knowing what works, always ask your clients how they found out about you. After awhile you’ll start to notice trends. Also watch your newsletter signup stats, as that’s a great indicator of newcomers liking what you offer–and it’s usually easy to correlate with a guest post or a specific activity.

      Lastly, experiment! What works for each business owner is going to be different. Give one idea your best shot and see what happens. If it looks like it’s working, keep at it. If it seems to have been a dud, move on.

      Hope that helps!

  3. Spot on advice, Jenny! I tell my clients pretty much the same thing–I like how you break it down into easy chunks. When I am working with clients on branding, web copy, or coaching them through to the next iteration of their business, I can’t stress enough how important it is to build their list through genuine service, regular blogging, guest posting, and having something to sell.

    I love reading you on LKR!

  4. Step 2 is something on which I decided to focus following the International Freelancer’s Seminar in September. It is an important part of my marketing for 2013 and I’m really looking forward to seeing how it works. I plan to put it to good use targeting a specific audience of ideal potential clients.

    Your reminder that it does work helps so much. I’m committed to doing it, but I love hearing from others that it will be worth it. Thanks for the great advice!

    • Yes, Kelly, “be of service” definitely works. Now to be clear, that doesn’t mean to give away your services for free, let yourself be taken advantage, or not charge when you should! It means to show up and help others in bite-sized ways. For a little more detail on how you can be of service, you can check out this free class I taught:

      Sounds like you’re on the right track. Keep it up!

  5. Great three point list, Jenny, for getting a business up and running. Building a solid foundation and getting systems in place are so important but a step that’s easy to miss for highly creative entrepreneurs. Many of the business owners we work with are so full of great ideas for growing their business that they skip that most important step – build the foundation first.
    You’ve laid out a clear simple strategy!

  6. Hey There Jenny,
    Excellent blog..seems like wherever I go…there you are! Your program Get Your First 1000 Subscribers has been my guide. Its so great to be able to refer to it whenever I get stuck. I highly recommend it to anyone who is really serious about making a difference. After all….we will make a difference 1000 times more…who can pass that up?
    As Always!

    • Jenny Shih says:

      Great to see you here, Susan! And thanks for the kind words about my program!! (I think it’s pretty awesome, too!)

Read previous post:
LKR Gift Giveaway Contest Week 3: Fiverr for Free AND Help An Entrepreneur In Need

We love sharing our favorite resources with our readers and one of our personal faves is Sometimes we all...