Two Hour Blogger

On Marketing and Writing

How 3 Tiny Tweets Got My First BIG Client

image of fork, spoon, plate, and dinero.


You know, 140 characters.

It’s stupid.

Nobody could ever do anything useful with such a toy. It’s great for tweeting stuff like “I just got done in the bathroom #flush” and that’s about it.

That’s how most people view Twitter. Just a shiny time waster for people who can’t afford standard SMS. If this describes your sentiments, then you’ll change your mind after reading this story. I promise.

This isn’t a theoretical “here’s how it could possibly be done” post. This is how I got my first real, juicy client from Twitter.

If you think you can’t start a relationship and business from Twitter, you’re wrong.

If you think you it takes lots of followers and time, you’re wrong.

If you’re worried that social media is a waste of time, you can stop worrying.

This is an article to share. It’s one to email when someone says Twitter is stupid. It’s one to show Robert Scoble, too.

And most importantly, it’s one to learn and make money from.

Okay, let’s get into the meat of how this happened.

It all started with #blogchat.

#Blogchat is a discussion that occurs every Sunday night at 8 PM Central Time, and lasts for an hour. Basically, a bunch of bloggers get together and have a group therapy session on “how to get better at blogging.” All kinds of people hop onto it, from Darren Rowse and Brian Clark to small guys like myself. If you’re not participating in #blogchat, you’re missing out on a lot of nuggets of useful information.

It was a cold Sunday night somewhere in early February.

It was blogchat time.

Might as well admit it, I have a dynamic personality. I like to shake things up, get radical, and start conversations. So I hopped on Twitter and wrote, “Don’t forget, since only 1/5 of your audience gets past your headline, you need to spend a LOT of time working on it.” I was quoting a statistic I’d stolen from Robert Bruce, who’d stolen it from Brian Clark, who’d stolen it from David Ogilvy, who’d stolen it from…

you get the point.

It was a good quote.

The questions started pouring in. We had some cool conversations. Blogchat continued. I asked and answered lots more questions, engaging lots of specific individuals using the @ function. By 9:00 PM we were wrapping up, and everybody signed off.

I went to bed.

It continued with free advice.

Days passed.

It was the regular routine. I was crazy busy working at a stone mill, preparing for a guitar concert, and feverishly trying to start some sort of online business or something. Yeah.

Then out of the blue, I got pinged from a guy named Joe Hage. He was like, “Hey I need a WordPress dude to help me with something.” He mentioned me and a few others.

I’d just gotten home from work and decided to give him a buzz. “Hey Joe…it’s Martyn. Has anyone helped you or are you still having issues?”

No, nobody had helped him yet. We looked at the problem. I showed Joe how to fix it.

And then we got to talking.

Come to find out, he’d read my blogchat tweet, and that’s how he knew about me. We’d gone back and forth a few times at the time, but I’d completely forgotten.

Here we were total strangers, discussing the stuff I eat and breathe. We were debating various aspects of WordPress, copywriting, blogging, marketing, designing, coding, and making money. Turns out, Joe was a long-term medical marketing consultant, and good at it. He was interested in who I was, and what I was doing.

Ten minutes turned into half an hour.

Then Joe thanked me and hung up. Keep in touch.

Next the client part happened.

We didn’t stop communicating. We kept jamming over Twitter and the phone. After a few days, he wanted me to a 404 error into a 301 redirect on his personal blog. This time, he was paying for it.

This wasn’t a simple issue. It wasn’t just your ordinary 301. It took … hours.

It was so difficult that I emailed a friend for advice. He told me the task was impossible, that it couldn’t be done. I began to give up.

But suddenly through a lucky Google search, I stumbled on the answer.

I tried it.

It worked.

Joe was pleased. We talked some more. He had more work for me. This time we were going to put together his professional site. It would have all kinds of fancy stuff – customized signup forms, split testing, dynamic headers, the whole nine yards.

Zoom forward a bit. The medical marketing communication site is up and running and well, let’s just say that Joe Hage is my first BIG client.


What does this mean for you?

The Internet is crawling with real human beings with real money looking for real solutions to real problems.

As Adam Baker would say, that might sound kind of “foo-foo” to you. But it’s true.

And it’s easy to forget too. Why? Because folks aren’t waving their money and shouting for a solution. They’re quietly looking for someone they can trust and work with.

So, what’s the secret to landing clients from Twitter?

Be generous. That’s all.

I’ve quoted Sonia’s tagline before, and I’ll do it again.

Remarkable relationships begin with remarkable communication.

That really says everything. Joe and I met by accident, so it isn’t a static formula. It’s more like “be awesome, give away free advice and have fun, and good things will happen.” That’s the beauty of social media. It’s serendipitous.

Business starts with communication, and that’s free. You’re never going to land a client if you don’t talk first. Get comfortable giving away your time. The more you communicate, the deeper the engagement and trust.

If you spend half an hour with a stranger over Skype, they’ll be your friend for life. Don’t believe me? Try it sometime. It’s incredible.

Be generous with your time. Give freely. Be on Twitter. Hang out in forums. Look for someone with a need, and help them.

That’s how, with three tweets and a phone call, I landed my first client.

What are you waiting for? It’s time you started some remarkable communication.

P.S. You’ll read blogs that say “charge for your time. Don’t give away free advice and consulting.” Unless you’re already big, ignore them. They don’t apply to you. They’re written by time-starved 7-figure A-listers who’ve already built up their credentials and lists.

P.P.S. I got Joe’s permission to publish this. He’s a great guy. Check out his site, Medical Marcom. I’ve spent a lot of time helping build it. And Joe, we hope to see you somewhere in comments. 😉

The #1 Thing Your Can Do for Your Business Today


I make a living building and maintaining websites for small business owners. What is the one thing all of my clients have in common? Find out.

45 Replies

  1. This is great. You never know who you’ll meet through Twitter and blogging. I’ve met more internet marketing people in ten months of blogging than I did in five years before that. Twitter makes that happen more easily.

    1. Martyn Chamberlin

      I’ve had more success with Twitter than any other platform. It’s incredible what happens there serendipitously.

      1. Well Martyn, I have had success as a freelance web designer on freelance market places.

        Started out on twitter recently.

        I am eagerly awaiting the serendipitous benefits of twitter after reading your post.


  2. Nice – great example of how the “social” part of social media often goes beyond Twitter or your blog.

  3. Hi,

    Really really good advice. Sharing freely is the X factor here…

    Help people to help ourselves.

  4. I just got a client from Quora, too.

    @garyvee turned me on to it, so i decided to write answers to a bunch of questions. Someboy saw my answers, and wrote me up, saying, ‘I could post this job on Craigslist and sift through all the responses, but I can tell you’re the kind of guy I want for the job.’

    It’s all about sharing your knowledge; your ideal clients will find you.

    1. Martyn Chamberlin

      Wow that’s awesome Caelan. Thanks for sharing.

  5. I’ve gotten clients from Twitter, too. I can’t recall the exact tweets that got them, but Twitter provides tons of social proof and is an easy way to connect with both new AND old clients. Invaluable business tool.

    1. Martyn Chamberlin

      Agreed Dean. You can’t put a price tag on social. That’s definitely something I’ve learned in the past few weeks.

  6. Readers of this blog: Martyn is awesome. He’s a “drop everything, my client needs something kind-of-guy.” He’s exactly what I was looking for.

    I heartily recommend you ask him for help with your websites. And if he doesn’t know the answer to something, he finds it (on his own time) and implements it for you.

    In fact, I’m so confident you’ll love Martyn:


    How’s that for an endorsement?

    All from one tweet he sent and the superlative follow up he gave.

    Good luck, Martyn, you’ve got an extremely bright future ahead of you.

    1. Martyn Chamberlin

      Wow Joe … I’m speechless.

      Thanks man.

      1. Martyn, I would keep that comment by Joe and throw it up on your sidebar or landing page. Keep those clients tweeting for you. 😉 And references/testimonials are always good to building the business.

        1. Martyn Chamberlin

          You’re right. Joe’s comment is awesome! What’s funny is, I don’t even have a landing page or site to put testimonials. This all just happened by accident.

          1. The best kind of accident. Rock on!

    2. What a supreme way to give someone a compliment Joe Hage! You’re a cool guy to do that! It’s nice when we can help each other out! Thank you for you comment! All the best to you and your company!

      P.S. I just might take you up on your offer! 😀

      1. Stephanie, thank you, you made me smile.

        Martyn, if I had time I’d write a post called, “When you compliment someone, make it count.” Perhaps you’ll write it for your followers?

        1. Martyn Chamberlin

          For sure Joe, you are a great case study here in how to complement someone.

          You’ve got me thinking. A post about this would benefit us mutually. I might have to do this. :-)

  7. Steve Elerick

    Martyn, grand things appear to happen by accident. However, the success you are receiving has more to do with your preparation, passion, drive and determination than thinking it is just blind Luck.

    It appears your focus is channeled towards giving than receiving. Continue this path as your moxie is bleeding through!



    1. Martyn Chamberlin

      Well Steve, thanks.

      But don’t forget, I’ve also got a great support system. I asked my readers if they’d help me get Brian Clark to tweet this article – and they did. (That’s why this article is up to 65 retweets, heh.)

      So yes, I’m giving, but I’m also receiving a lot. :)

      I love my readers – each one of them. You included, Steve.

  8. I agree with Steve E. Your success is definitely not luck. I’ve never met you personally, but your passion is evident in each article you write.

    Thanks for providing this tip about Twitter. I have an account, but I haven’t really figured out how to utilize it. It will be my project for the weekend. Can you suggest some resources regarding using Twitter for marketing?

    1. Martyn Chamberlin

      Read Trust Agents by Chris Brogan. Other than that? Just find people in your niche, become friends with them, be helpful, and have fun.

      I think Twitter is the best marketing tool when you don’t use it as a marketing tool. Sounds counterintuitive, but seriously – don’t try to sell. That’s really the only mistake you can make.

      1. Thanks for the reference, Martyn. I just added to my Amazon shopping cart.

  9. I also agree with Steve. Your hard work is simply paying off naturally. I asked you a question about your WP theme on a previous post and you gave a great, thorough answer.

    I just started in Twitter today and I can already see how amazing a tool it is. James Altucher sent me a direct message and followed me. I’d seen the guy on TV for stocks and such and always loved what he had to say. Anyways, I digress…but Twitter is great!

    Wow, that endorsement was amazing! I’ll keep you in mind if I need website work.

    1. Martyn Chamberlin

      Thanks Stephen.

      Website work? Any time.

  10. Great read and the comments are awesome. It doesnt sound like Martyn has clients but raving fans!

    Loved your testimonial about Twitter. A good lesson in participation versus looking for a payoff is the way to go. I look forward to reading more Martyn!

    1. Martyn Chamberlin

      Raving fans? Wow … and it’s all happened pretty much by accident too.

      Thanks Derek.

  11. blogchat huh? seems not exist in my country, should know what you use to chat a fellow blogger?

    1. Martyn Chamberlin

      Blogchat isn’t location-specific. Check here for details how it works.

  12. Great article, advice, and endorsement! Speaking of accidents. I accidentally stumbled upon your website via ProBlogger. Amazing thing this information superhighway. Thanks Al Gore!

    1. Martyn Chamberlin

      No it wasn’t by accident Buck. I wrote that Problogger article with the specific purpose of getting folks like you here. 😉

  13. Thanks for this post Martyn! Good information! How to best use Twitter for my business has been a consistent question of mine! The parts you wrote:

    “If you think you can’t start a relationship and business from Twitter, you’re wrong.

    If you think you it takes lots of followers and time, you’re wrong.”
    >> That was me! And,

    “Business starts with communication, and that’s free. You’re never going to land a client if you don’t talk first. Get comfortable giving away your time. The more you communicate, the deeper the engagement and trust.”
    >> That got me thinking!

    So, I guess I will keep Tweeting! Maybe I can join that Sunday chat! Thanks, again! Have a great day!

  14. Great piece! I particularly enjoyed that last nugget about ignoring advice that doesn’t apply to you. People get so caught up in a formula. Just hang out be awesome :)

  15. ok, Martyn, you got me hooked thru the Problogger post as well!

  16. Here is an industry where your advice does not work. I have a huge design blog where I generously give away tons and tons of colour and design advice. And I have written a few posts already about design time and why it’s worth paying for. I sell my advice in consultations. A half hour conversation (with a long distance client) would potentially have many major design and colour decisions on a $50,000 kitchen reno made.

    I would get a lot of ‘love’ but that doesn’t pay the bills.

    Yes I can tell you in 5 seconds what the best colour for your house should be but it’s taken me 10 years, 2000 consultations and countless hours of study to be able to do that.

    1. Martyn Chamberlin

      But you could still give away little snippets of design advice in 140 characters, couldn’t you Maria?

  17. Great post and I can see that Joe is not only your first big client but also a friend. That’s great.
    I love your final piece of advice.


  18. The quote about Skype is intriguing. I disallow instant messagers, Skype, and even telephones because communicating on any of those is too disruptive to my productivity. You get to the office, you do a couple of ‘chats’, next thing you know it’s lunchtime and the whole morning’s down the drain. But given what this post says about the effectiveness of Skype for relationship-building, I may have to rethink that policy.

    1. Martyn Chamberlin

      It’s a tough line to walk, Nick. If your business model is freelancing, you often need to become “social” before you ask for a sale (or service or client, or whatever your business model.)

      At the same time, you don’t want to waste all of your time being Mr. Nice and giving away free advice, and come home to a starving family. I definitely see situations where my strategy wouldn’t work. Just look at Maria Killam’s comment.

      At the end of the day, you have to experiment with different tactics and see what works best for your business.

      Cheers. :)

  19. I like how you gained from being generous and being “social” before doing “sale”. Good lesson – maybe I do believe that generosity does pay bills. But, I am an idealist…

    1. Martyn Chamberlin

      Sure, you have to be careful. You don’t want to waste time, so it takes a balance. But I think I’ve proven that being helpful is rewarding. :)

  20. Communication is an effective way to build trust and relationship. I am moved by your story. I like how you said it… be generous and something good will happen.

  21. BEST story I’ve read since my first social media account registration!

    You da bomb!


  22. A similar thing happened to me. By paying compliments and re-tweeting people I found compelling, I found myself sitting down over coffee as an adjunct writer on a whitepages project for a big medical client. Twitter is conversation, and conversation yields relationship. And in case you didn’t know it, any kind of freelance career is built on relationship.

  23. Grace

    Indeed, being helpful and actively engaged in a good cause can help you land to the clients that you want. I came across a video shares the same interest like you do. Her video is about how to land to big clients and the steps are easy to follow