Congratulations! You’re a new business owner — and nothing is more exciting than landing new clients. But attracting those first few clients to your nutrition practice doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time, strategy, and often hard work to let potential clients know about you and your services.
The good news is the most effective ways to find clients are free (or relatively inexpensive) and easy to implement. If you’re a brand-new nutrition business owner, here are the most important things you can do right out of the gate to get clients as a dietitian.
Make the Most of Your Online Presence
Whether you see clients in person or virtually, a solid online presence will help you stand out from your competition.
Website and social media
Your website and social media accounts are where potential clients will go to learn about you and your services, so they’re essential. A good website tells potential clients know why you are the best dietitian for them and what benefits they’ll realize when they work with you.
Having active social media accounts allows you to expand your reach significantly. Showcase your personality and expertise by offering information, helpful tips, recipes, or other content your audience might find valuable. When writing content for your website and social media accounts, use keywords that your audience would use when searching for nutrition information, answers to specific questions, or recipes in your niche.
Ensure your website and social media accounts include a clear call-to-action (CTA). Encourage visitors to schedule a discovery call or appointment. And don’t overlook an opt-in form to collect emails because these are warm leads. Including a free giveaway (known as a lead magnet) will encourage visitors to sign up for your email list.
Share your lead magnet with your online communities and ask your friends and colleagues to share it. Once visitors sign up for your list, let them know about your services and send them valuable content periodically. Even warm leads may need several interactions with you before they’re ready to schedule an appointment.
Optimize for Google
Once you have a website, create a Google Business Profile. This is a free business listing and profile for anyone with a local audience, whether you have a physical office location or not.
Whether your goal is to attract local, national, or international clients, work on your SEO (search engine optimization), so potential clients can find you through Google.
One of the best and fastest ways to boost your SEO is by writing informational articles for online magazines, local papers, and other dietitian bloggers in your niche. Reach out to editors, journalists, and bloggers and pitch a story idea of interest their audience. Tell them about your expertise and ask if they will link your bio to your website’s home or about page.
If you have the time, start a nutrition blog on your website. Focus on writing informational posts that address your most frequently asked nutrition questions and recipes that fit your niche. Share these on your social media accounts with a link to your website.
Any online articles provide value for your audience and help improve your website’s SEO, making it more likely your name and business will pop up when someone searches for a dietitian in your niche. As your email list grows, you can send readers a monthly newsletter with links to your blog, published articles, or other helpful content.
Finally, if you belong to professional associations like the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, make sure you link your website and social media to their professional directory. The more links you build to your website, the faster people will find you when searching the internet.
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Become a Networking Pro
The word “networking” is terrifying to most people, but it’s essential, especially in the earliest stages of your business. And once you start doing it, you’ll realize it’s not nearly as scary as you thought.
Networking is simply connecting with like-minded people to tell them about your business and your ideal client. Think of it as a conversation in which you share information, build relationships, and help each other grow — not ask for clients.
Networking is essential for new businesses because landing those first clients is a numbers game. The more people who know about you and your nutrition niche, the more likely a connection will know someone who needs your service. Referrals obtained through networking are often high quality and more likely to turn into paying clients because they come to you through word of mouth.
There are various ways to network and people to network with. These are some easy networking strategies to consider in the early stages of your business.
Tap into your personal network
Let everyone in your inner circle (think friends, family, and other dietitians) know about your business, what you specialize in, and the type of client you can help. You never know who knows someone looking for a nutrition professional like you. Generate excitement and urgency by running a sale or special offer around your launch and let everyone know you still have room in your schedule for a few new clients. (P.S. This is how I got my first clients in my business – and while it may have felt daunting to call people in my network, some of whom I hadn’t spoken to in 1+ years, it was extremely beneficial to my business).
Take advantage of social media connections
Anyone who follows you on social media is doing so because they think your content is valuable, and you may offer a solution to their problem. Your followers are all warm leads who might be interested in working with a dietitian — or they may know someone else who is.
Post announcements on all your social media platforms about your new business. And reconnect with anyone who has previously sent you a direct message to update them about your business.
Make sure you post on all your social media platforms frequently, and use a variety of posting formats, like a reel, story, and static post. The more often you post your message, the more likely the right eyes will see it.
Join online communities
No matter your niche, there’s a Facebook group for that. Join a few Facebook support groups where your audience might hang out, and answer questions or offer advice. Look for active groups with members who post often. Just make sure you follow the group’s rules. Some are stricter than others about self-promotion. A great way to add value to the group without coming across as salesy, is to simply respond to questions that you (and your business) can answer. Comment on the post with a genuinely valuable response, and if applicable, include the link to your website, lead magnet, or services page if it will further help answer the question being asked.
Team up with professionals in a related industry
Business professionals in niches related to yours can be a great source of referrals, especially if you hope to grow your local clients. Depending on your nutrition niche and where your clients are, you might connect with gym owners, personal trainers, natural food stores, vegan lunch spots, doulas, or lactation consultants. If you’re open to participating in on-site events they host (like an open house or wellness event), offer that too.
Networking with other business professionals works best and is less intimidating if you consider it a two-way street. Let small businesses know you’d like to refer potential clients to them.
If you run an online business, the same rules apply – reach out to other online business owners who would be a good fit for cross-promotion.
Connect with clinicians
Whether you have a new or established business, other clinicians are likely to be one of your best sources of clients. Try to connect with doctors, PAs, NPs, and other health professionals who work with your ideal client. Having regular referrals from one or two clinicians can fill your schedule nicely.
Medical professionals are busy, so it may take more than one email or call to get their attention. Offer to speak at their patient wellness events or provide a lunch and learn for clinicians so they can get an update on a nutrition topic and learn about you simultaneously.
Should You Advertise to Find Clients?
Paid advertising might seem like an easy and low-stress way to attract your first few clients, but it can be expensive. And often, paid ads target too broad of an audience, so they’re less effective than networking strategies. That said, these forms of advertising might be worthwhile:
- Facebook or Google ads targeting a very specific demographic.
- Paid listings in health professional directories like HealthProfs or Zocdoc.
- Ads in local publications that are running a feature section on services in your niche.
- Sponsoring a booth at a local event relevant to your audience.
If you decide to invest in paid advertising, make sure you track your results and monitor your return on investment.
There are countless ways to get business as a new private practice dietitian, and some may be more effective for you than others. Make a list of the most feasible strategies and try a few each month. Before long, you’ll get into your marketing groove, growing your business by leaps and bounds.