I joined a business networking group where there are other professions. This way, I am able to connect and get to know a large group of people who might be considering a trainer or know of other people considering training. I find some of them have not necessarily been previously exposed to fitness other than television or basic fitness magazines.
I have found that donating a a few sessions for a school fundraiser or charitable auction to be quite successful. It gets your name out there and thus far everyone who has “won” the certificates has become a long term client. I now donate sessions every year to 5 different silent auctions (also a business write-off). A good idea to donate towards expensive private schools.
Some clients find me through a google search. I have worked very hard reading about google business places to get my get my website to the top of the list. It does not take money if you truly invest your time into research. The main thing is to make sure that all social media is link back to your google listing.
Word of mouth has been a good resource for client referral. Also, joining various networking groups around my area has helped and then using meet-up groups as well. There have been numerous time where I got some individual clients from teaching classes and outdoor boot camps. People have also found me thru YELP and by visiting my web site and IDEA profile. I have never advertised in Craigslist, so I have no experience with that option.
I volunteer and always ask people I meet if about themselves. And they ask me in return. And if they seem receptive, I ask them if they are interested in working with a fitness instructor and if they know anyone who might be able to use my services. I work with neurological issues and athletes. Most people don’t think of fitness instructors when they think of those two areas. It helps for me to explain what I am able to provide others when it comes to training.