I frequently hear one-on-one service providers claim that, due to the nature of their business, funnels won’t work for them.

But here’s the thing: Funnels absolutely DO work for service providers and you need them in your business. So let’s talk about why.

It’s true that most service providers, including myself, built their business on referrals–and referrals are amazing! They make it easy for clients to say yes, because you have been sent to them by somebody that they trust, which means they’re more likely to trust you and hire you very quickly. I built my business on referrals and am so thankful for them!

BUT referrals can (and will) dry up! They don’t dry up because you do bad work, but because they can be cyclical and uneven. The number of referrals you receive can depend on the time of year and on the whims of who is sending them to you. Referrals are great until suddenly you don’t have enough! It happens to the best of us, I promise. 

So, what do you do when it happens? Do you feel desperate and start to panic?

But how would you feel if you already had a funnel in place that had new leads coming in?

Wouldn’t you feel a lot less panicked when referrals aren’t bringing in the amount of business you need if you knew that your funnel was already bringing in potential clients? 

I teach three main funnels for businesses: list-building funnels, live launches, and evergreen funnels. Each of these funnels serves a different purpose, so the key to using funnels as a service provider is to find the funnel that works best for you!

When appropriate, service providers can do a live launch of their services, but it may not be the best place to start. An evergreen funnel isn’t always the most helpful for service providers, though it can be added in and work well in some circumstances. But there is one funnel that every service provider needs–a list-building funnel!

I suggest that all service providers start with a list-building funnel because you need a consistent way for leads to come in and be nurtured. When leads don’t come from referrals, they require a little bit more time to get to know, love, and trust you before they’re ready to say yes, which can be achieved by consistent communication through your funnel. 

So how can you use funnels, specifically list-building funnels, in your business as a one-on-one service provider? You need to first figure out who you are targeting by defining your goals, your audience, and your offers. 


Is your goal to grow your email list because you want to eventually do courses or programs down the road? Or do you plan to stay in that one-on-one lane? Each goal is one hundred percent fine, but it means you’ll want to attract people in different ways!


As a service provider, you’re trying to bring in higher-level, one-on-one customers or clients, so you’re going to want to make sure you’re targeting them with an offer that appeals to that specific audience. 

As a funnel strategist, my offer is typically a 90-minute funnel strategy session with a goal of later doing copy and strategy for their full launches, or whatever their path becomes. I am targeting this audience with a higher-level offer than the people who come to me for my potential programs or the WTF toolkit that costs $27 or $47.


Once you have your goals and audience in place, then it’s time to create an offer for your funnel. Often your initial offer can be a freebie of some sort, such as a ___, but it doesn’t have to be! Your offer could also be a toolkit, a sales page audit, or a membership. (Liz Wilcox has an amazing $9 membership that is a great way to have ongoing leads come in!) Whatever type of offer you choose, the most important part is to collect the emails of potential clients so you can add them to your email list and introduce them to your business!

After your initial contact through your free (or low-ticket) offer, your list-building funnel should include a welcome sequence of five to seven emails where you bring them in, introduce yourself, and share a success story: 

Even if they’re not ready at that very moment, you’ve cemented yourself in their head: “Hey, this person knows what they’re talking about. Maybe I’m not ready to hire them yet, but I’m going to save that email for down the road when I am ready.”

When you use a list-building funnel as a service provider, you know you always have leads coming in! When you get down the road anytime you want more clients than your referrals are providing, you can contact your email list of people who are already warm leads and say, “Hey, I have two spots open for (funnel strategy, copywriting, graphic design, VA, etc.), next month and I wanted to offer them to you first!”

Since you’ve already been warming them up, at least a few of these leads will be much more likely to say yes.

As a one-on-one service provider, if you’re growing your business and raising your rates appropriately, then a couple of new higher-ticket clients are usually all you need at one time.

When you have a list-building funnel in place, there’s no need to panic when your referrals temporarily dry up. You’ve already set up a reliable way to find new leads and turn them into satisfied customers!

Want to learn how to create a list-building funnel? Join my free WTF List-Building Funnel Challenge coming in May!