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I don’t know about you, but I HATE cold calling. I hate having to try and pitch myself – I just feel like a sleazy salesman. But the good news? You don’t have to! Stay tuned, cause I’m going to tell you how to get clients without cold calling.

As we were preparing to film our upcoming business course (which you can join for FREE Sept 27-28!), we thought a lot about what questions we consistently get from people. The number one question we get (by far) is “how do I get more clients?”

I feel your pain. And to a certain extent, that never goes away. But over the years, we’ve developed a system that has enabled us to not worry so much about finding clients, and instead, focus our energies on doing great work. Now, our clients come to us specifically wanting us for what we can create for them.

First Things First

No business will ever succeed without personal, self-generated initiative. Everything I’m about to tell you only works as hard as you do. If you aren’t willing to put in the time to make things happen in your business or don’t really have a heart for serving others – then you’re bound to fail, no matter what advice I can give you.

The advice I’m giving here is based on a completely different philosophy of business – one that flies in the face of what (at least seemingly) is the predominant ideology in small businesses today. I’m not going to take the time to dive into that all here, but a book I HIGHLY recommend reading is The Go Giver by Bob Burg and John D. Mann (and don’t worry, it’s not a hard read). It revolutionized my view of business, and I’m sure it will yours as well. Go into it with an open mind and you’ll be amazed at the world of opportunities it opens!

When it comes to the subject of how to get clients, my good friend and mentor John-Clay Burnett helped coin our mantra here at MU: Do work, Show work, Network. It’s honestly the best way to summarize everything I’m about to tell you.

So, where do I begin?


1: Do Work

It should go without saying, but the foundation to building a successful business is to do good work. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve talked to who are struggling to get clients who are either not currently making work, or don’t have quality projects in their portfolio.

People will hire you for what they’ve seen you do – so if you want to get work, go start doing the work you want more of. Even if it’s doing it for free sometimes. Do work so good they can’t ignore you!

People will hire you for what they’ve seen you do – so if you want to get work, go start doing the work you want more of. Click To Tweet


A problem that a lot of people struggle with at the beginning is finding people who will let you do work for them. And the solution isn’t anything groundbreaking: start with the people you know! I’m willing to bet anyone reading this knows at least 2-3 people who own or manage a business, and most people can find a use for a free video (and maybe they can even cover expenses).

If you’ve been running your business for a while and are struggling to find work, the key for you is to do strategic free/lower cost work. If there’s a particular industry or type of work you are wanting to do more of, find someone in or interfacing with that industry or market to do a free or lower cost project for – or full price if you can get it. The key is to knock it out of the park for that client, focusing on THEIR needs (not just making something cool for your reel), and make them super happy. You may not gain any new work from them directly, but the connections and eyeballs you’ll gain through the project will be worth it. You can also directly ask them to refer you to other people, and they’ll usually be more than happy to do so.

To this day we can trace all of our biggest projects back to one free project we created for someone we thought it would be cool to work with!

2. Show Work

Another massively underrated and unused tool is sharing the process behind your work, not just the finished product. Document the process you use, show a look behind the scenes, and also share the finished product!

By giving people a look behind the scenes – and documenting your process for people to see – you’ll build trust by proving you have a repeatable process that next time a client calls you up, will allow you to deliver the same results for them as well.

People like to hire busy people. Looking busy and showing consistency in the work you’re doing will keep reminding people of what you do, and keeps bringing you to the forefront of their mind. There’s been many cases where we’ll post something on social media, and shortly after a lead that had sort of dropped off will reach back out because they were reminded by seeing that post!

On the flip side, people who are constantly posting about needing work – coming across as needy or hoping people will take pity on them – will drive clients away. It begs the question – if they do good work, why is no one hiring them?

If you want to dig deeper into this idea, I highly recommend checking out the book “Show Your Work” by Austin Kleon. In there he gives great practical ideas and tips on how to apply this concept.

3: Network

The final pillar to the process is to network with others. It’s been said your network is your net-worth, and it’s so true. Learning how to properly network with others is a hugely important skill, and will pay off well in the long run!

Network and make connections with people you want to work with and others who are working with the types of people you want to work with. Engage with people online and in person. Sometimes it’s the people or connections you least expect that lead to something down the road.

Sometimes it’s the people or connections you least expect that lead to something down the road. Click To Tweet


The most important thing to remember is: don’t expect to get work right away. Seek to truly be a friend, free from the motivation of getting work. Be a genuine listener and seek to add value to the other person through every conversation. Seek to understand what they do, why they do it, and the struggles they have that they are looking for solutions to. If you happen to have an answer to their problems (i.e. a video) – then you can offer that as a solution.

Keep in mind – relationships are the long game. In my experience, relationships often take around three years to develop into actual work. At the end of the day, people trust projects to people they know and trust.

Just this week we finished a large project that was a referral from someone we met with 4 years ago and never did any work for! Always be building relationships – you never know who you may be able to help in the future.

That’s It?

Yep! That’s it. It’s simple, yet effective. This won’t be your quick, rocket-fuel approach – but if you’re like me and hate cold calling and want your business to grow long-term – then this is the path for you.

Over time as you make killer work, show that work online, and connect with others, you’ll build a healthy network of people who love working with you because you help them solve real, tangible problems. They’ll become fans talking you up to their friends and colleagues, and in turn, you’ll get more clients.

Like I mentioned at the beginning, we have our FREE two-day Business Summit launching September 27th-28th, and if you’d like to learn more about the business side of video production – we’ll be diving into all of these subjects and more! Check it out and grab your free ticket at I’d love to see you there!

Andrew Bartlett

Andrew Bartlett

Andrew Bartlett is a cofounder of Bartlett Idea Co., an independent creative agency. Andrew works on films and produces marketing materials for businesses and organizations across the nation. He loves storytelling with excellence and has garnered multiple awards. Andrew loves coaching aspiring filmmakers on how to hone their craft in a hands-on way.

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