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Going Self-Employed #3: Finding Customers 

Another challenge when going self-employed is building a customer base. Here are a few of our choice tips on how you can attract new customers and grow your business as a self-employed tradesperson. 

Identifying Your Unique Selling Points 

Whether you’ve just gone self-employed as a tradesperson or are still thinking of starting out, it’s important to identify your unique selling points (USPs) to stand out from the competition. Think about what sets you apart from others in your field. Do you have specialised skills or certifications? Are you known for your attention to detail or exceptional customer service? This is not the time to be modest – by highlighting your USPs, you can effectively market yourself and attract potential customers. 

Building a Strong Online Presence

In today’s digital age, having a strong online presence is crucial for self-employed tradespeople. Create a professional website that showcases your work, services, and provides clear and easily reached contact information. It doesn’t have to be a big or complicated project, and the good news is you don’t even have to know any coding! Online website builders like Wix or GoDaddy offer easy templates and hosting – we’ll talk a bit more about building a website for your new business in another post. You should also invest in some high-quality photography to visually demonstrate the quality of your work, if possible.  

social media 2

Creating social media profiles on platforms like Instagram and Facebook can help you reach a wider audience and engage with potential customers. It’s worth checking if there’s a local Facebook group for trades or small businesses to promote themselves! Trade-specific platforms like Checkatrade, TrustATrader or MyBuilder can also help you find new customers, especially when you’re just starting out.  

Posting your work on social media or trade platforms may seem pointless to the more traditionally minded, but it’s important as being able to showcase your work builds trust with potential customers. This is why you should regularly update your online presence with new projects, testimonials, and relevant content to keep your audience engaged. Remember to also think about what your average customers are like and which social media platforms they’re most likely to be on, and focus your activity on those!  

Networking with Other Professionals

Networking with other professional tradespeople in your field can provide valuable opportunities for customer acquisition. Attend trade shows like Installer, PHEX or ELEXSHOW, workshops, and local events where possible to connect with other tradespeople, contractors, and suppliers. Building relationships with others in your field is definitely worth it, as that way you can receive referrals and even collaborate on projects. Additionally, joining professional associations or trade organizations like APHC, CIPHE or ECA will often give you access to networking events, workshops and resources to further grow your business. 


Collecting Reviews and Testimonials

Positive reviews and testimonials can make a big difference in finding new customers, especially when you’ve just started out as a self-employed tradie. In fact, a report from 2021 by PowerReviews found that over 99.9% of customers read reviews when they looked for services or products online and 96% looked for negative reviews specifically.

You should always remember to encourage satisfied customers to leave reviews on your website, social media profiles, and online platforms you use. In addition to asking for a review after completing a job, you can also send a little reminder a week later, as a customer may not always remember or get the chance to immediately leave a review. Don’t pester them though. You can then highlight your reviews on your website and include them in any promotional materials you might use. Testimonials provide social proof and build trust with potential customers, making it more likely for them to choose your services. However, you will likely get negative feedback at some point, so it’s important that you regularly monitor and respond to reviews – a good response to a bad review can even build trust further by showing you’re committed to your customers’ satisfaction.  

We previously wrote a more in-depth post about making use of customer reviews for tradespeople – check it out here.  


Testimonials don’t always have to be digital, either: Good old fashioned word of mouth is another powerful tool for customer acquisition for self-employed tradespeople. Providing exceptional service and exceeding customer expectations will encourage positive word of mouth referrals, so remember to ask satisfied customers to recommend your services to their friends, family, and colleagues. As with online reviews, offering referral incentives or discounts to motivate customers to spread the word about your business is always an option. By harnessing the power of word of mouth, you can expand your customer base and establish a strong reputation. 

If you’ve recently gone self-employed or been in the game for longer, what have you found to be the best way to find customers? Let us know your thoughts!

Don’t forget to check out the rest of our “Going Self-Employed” series aimed to help tradespeople new to self-employment!

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