On a phone call last week, I heard: "Would someone really hire a stranger that they just found on a website? I provide a service – don't people need to be referred to me by someone they trust?"
An excellent two-part question, to which I'll write a two-part answer:
Turning strangers into clients
When a stranger lands on your website and they're greeted with information that will help solve their problem, they can very quickly turn from a stranger to a fan. If they really like what you've written, they may share it with someone they know or bookmark your page to come back to later.
But it gets even better if you're employing pink spoon marketing techniques (and hopefully you are!). Now, that stranger has now downloaded your free resource and given you permission to follow up with more useful information and ways to get to know you.
As you stay in touch over time, you won't feel like a stranger to that visitor anymore. You will feel like a trusted source of useful information, a valuable resource and the first person to consider when it's time to look for solutions.
Making referrals easier
When you take good care of a client, you make the person who referred that client look really good! With an impressive collection of informative content on your website, blog or social network profile, you can give your referral sources even more clout.
Imagine them being able to say, "Sorry to hear you're having trouble with X, Jen. I just read a fantastic article with some great tips – here's the link."
Just as your articles build trust with prospective clients, they also build credibility with potential referral sources, and give you an easy, no-pressure way to stay in touch with your network of colleagues.
So while it may not happen immediately (and sometimes it does!), I say YES, strangers will hire you just from seeing your website. IF your website includes some great content.
And for those who need a little social proof, your content can solidify your standing as the go-to expert in your specialty and guarantee a steady stream of referrals coming your way.