Are you a vegan solopreneur who wants the best clients?

I’ve done a pretty good job of blogging on a monthly basis here, but now that I’m in Month 10 of this business as The Content Doctor, I feel like I have more I can share about getting clients who are the right fit.

In my previous business, 80-90% of my clients came from referrals—people who shared my info or business with their friends or colleagues looking for my services—and that hasn’t changed, but in order to get referrals, we do have to put in some work to “get known”!

Also, I’m finding that this year (eight years after I launched my socially/environmentally responsible PR agency), more people and media are talking about the ethics of business and how to best treat employees and customers. So if you’re like me, finding clients that align with your values is important.

Here are four ways solo service providers can find cruelty-free clients:

 

1. Get your vegan business found online

 

This isn’t a post on ALL the ways that you can get found online, because there are hundreds of ways to do that. But the primary ways to be found online are:

  • Have a website, ideally with a blog. This is so you can create posts with keywords so that Google will bump up your vegan content, making it easier for clients to find you (just like I’m doing now!)
  • Be active on at least one social network (if you must choose just one, I’d pick LinkedIn which is finally starting to compete in a major way with Facebook)
  • Network online with folks likely to hire or refer you

As per the screenshot above, one of the new ways I’ve gotten myself online is with a Google My Business Profile. This used to be the section where Google would pull information (especially for brick and mortar, location-based businesses) and populate it on the right-hand side of the search page, whether or not the information was correct.

Click here to see a video I did on tips to creating a Google My Biz profile.

Now, you can have COMPLETE POWER over what appears in that business profile, and it will sync really well with search (for example, if you create an event), maps (for location-based businesses), and other Google-run services like ads.

Here’s the link to my Google My Business Profile for The Content Doctor (shown above), if you’d like to have a looksee.

 

2. Share your values.

Sandra Nomoto holding a red-leafed plant behind her back

Back in 2012 when I rebranded my PR company to “Conscious PR” hoping to attract more socially & environmentally responsible companies who shared my values, values were STILL a taboo topic. When my friend took my photo above in 2016, I wasn’t yet vegan, but she’s an intuitive and I think she knew the direction I (and my business) was going to go, so now these types of images fit like a glove. And, it differentiates me from everyone else.

2020 has changed the game for EVERYONE and for good. In late September, I had the very first conversation with a marketing agency partner who was actively seeking diverse contractors to work with. They shared their values, and asked whether mine overlapped with theirs. It shocked me to just have the conversation. It’s so easy to throw up words on a website, but it’s rare to see (much less HEAR) from REAL PEOPLE who walk that talk.

While “vegan businesses” or “vegan-owned businesses” is still a new term to the public, I believe the reasons why people eat plant-based or live vegan lifestyles are rapidly getting out there, and it’s only a matter of time before people seek us out. You may not want to use the term “vegan” front and centre in your marketing like I did at the start of 2020 (i.e. “The Vegan Copywriter”), but using terms like “cruelty-free, ethical” and your personal values will help attract the right clients.

Also, conversations are a two-way street. You must also seek clients who share your values, and boldly say “NO” to those who don’t. It’s a new era, and empathy and vulnerability are courageous, both in life and in business.

 

3. Vet products and services.

In my previous business, I tried to make it SO OBVIOUS on my website I was only looking for socially and environmentally responsible companies to work with. I was a member of five member organizations, including B Corporation certification, and I thought it would enough to attract the right companies.

Not so.

Because the world is just catching up to brave conversations about social responsibility, climate change (which is real, BTW), and being vegan or cruelty-free, it’s up to you to vet prospects who contact you to and find out whether they’re a right match for you.

A note about the announcement above: Hootsuite, a B Corp, has prided itself on being socially and environmentally responsible, yet they almost did a deal with the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency, which, under the Trump administration, is regarded as one of the worst departments to commit inhumane acts, deliberately separating refugee children from their parents. (Source: Hootsuite on Twitter)

If prospects can’t afford your services, that’s an automatic NO for me. (I even say I won’t offer discounts because of racial equity.)

If they say they’re a cruelty-free company but you’re not sure, dig further. If it’s a food company, look at their ingredient lists. See what others are saying about them on social media. Google them to check for negative publicity. Use your intuition. Maybe they look great on the surface, but when you speak to them, it’s like you’re talking to a kindergartener and you have to keep explaining yourself.

In my experience, your gut is never wrong.

I can’t say more than this because every experience or interaction’s going to be different, but in my 10.5 months of running this business, I’m finding that being as CRYSTAL CLEAR AS POSSIBLE in my website copy and then having the conversation when people reach out to me about whether they’re truly cruelty-free has helped filter out clients who aren’t a fit.

 

4. Find and join networks that align with your values.

In my previous business, the second highest way I got clients was through business networks.

If you identify as a woman, you might be thinking to yourself: “I know a lot of business networks for women!” In my province alone, there are at least a dozen of these (if not more) and that doesn’t include all of Canada or beyond.

So remember, niche as much as possible and remember value alignment.

There aren’t any “cruelty-free” business networks that I know of, but there are a few vegan business networks I’ve tapped into or have on my radar:

I mention the headquarters only for reference; these are open to members globally. (Yes, we could use one in Canada, and no, I’m not going to start it! haha)

There are also vegan biz conferences like Vegan Women’s Summit and vegan business directories like vKind, which you should definitely add your business to.

Think of your industry and ethnicity too. For example, this year I’ve learned about several Filipinx business networks that I didn’t before.

If you know of any networking organizations I’ve missed in this list, or if you have more tips for B2B solopreneurs who cater to cruelty-free businesses, comment below!

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