Welcome to Part 3 of 15 Days to Running a Successful Freelance Business. Today we’re dealing with how to find your ideal client.
I touched on this is the last post on writing your freelance business plan – which you can read here.
Knowing your ideal client is the key to business success. It will help you to figure out how to reach them. How to target your products and services for them. And, it will help you to figure out the sort of client you want to avoid.
What you are aiming to do here is to take the general attributes of your key clients and use them to create a detailed profile of an individual who represents that ideal client group.
What is an ideal client anyway?
Before you even start, you need to know what an ideal client is – and essentially, they should have the following attributes:
Be someone who wants your product or service
In a position to buy what you’re offering
Be someone that you WANT to work with (this is sooo important I could dedicate an entire blog post to why you don’t want to work with a nightmare client – but I will assume that you already know that will make your working life difficult – to say the least – so will leave it for now)
Be interested in hearing more about your product
Have the money to spend on what you have established is your ideal ‘going rate’ for your product or service (you do NOT want to get into an exercise where you are at a race to the bottom in terms of price. You will never beat the ‘big boys and girls’ and they will put you out of business if all you are competing on is price).
Be looking for a solution to the problem that you have identified as the one you are solving through your product or service
The should ideally be warm to your business – or if you’re new, your offer
Be happy to spread the word among their networks about you
Be happy to pay you what you are worth in order to find the solution to their problem – and they don’t resent paying for your offer
Creating Your Ideal Client Profile
Before we get started, there are two things to remember:
1. this isn’t an actual real life person. You are averaging the key attributes for the ideal client that you WANT to work with.
2. your ideal client isn’t you (I’ll come on to this later).
Now we’re going to get super specific. When I say ideal client (singular) I really mean 1 person. Think of a specific person that you and your business will reach. They will be your biggest fan because your freelance business is going to meet their needs and solve all of their problems. (OK, perhaps all is an exaggeration but all as they relate to what you are offering them).
Think of all of the key criteria above. You want to build the profile of someone who fits these attributes. All of them.
To start with, give them a name. Yes, I know, feels stupid but trust me, it works.
Giving your ideal client a name will help you to focus on them and their needs. It also helps you to create tailored marketing materials, social media messages and, of course, your products and services themselves.
At the same time as giving them a name, you will also have figured out their gender.
If you’re not yet in business, what gender do you think you are most likely to be working with? If you’re already in business, what gender are the majority of your clients? If it’s a 50/50 split, no problem. Just choose one. Remember, you are looking at an average in order to give you a specific person.
Get into specifics
Now you want to ask yourself specific questions about this person so that you can get really clear on them in your head.
How old are they? Where do they shop? Do they have kids – how old are they? Where do they live? What are their favorite brands? What do they do in their spare time? What kind of car do they drive? How much do they earn (exact figure here) and where do they work? Again, be as specific as possible. No generic answers.
It might seem difficult at first but, as you start to go through the exercise, you will get a clearer picture in your head of who your ideal client might be.
Although you are not your ideal client, this might be a version of you. For example, if you’re offering advice that you have learned yourself, it might be a version of you 2, 5 or 10 years ago.
Size isn’t everything – in this respect at least
Don’t worry about creating too small a niche. Being specific will help you to build your business offer. This will mean that you can be more successful early on in your freelance business than you would be if you find yourself stumbling about in the dark with only a vague idea of who you want to reach.
Don’t forget about you
This is an ‘ideal’ client. You want to make sure that they don’t have aspects that you don’t want to work with.
If you’re a freelancer who doesn’t want to work with people who don’t have a clue what they need from you, build that in to your ideal client profile. For example, if your business is around a specific hobby market, this might mean that you are trying to reach existing hobbyists in your field rather than reaching out to those who have never tried this particular hobby.
Being clear about what your ideal clients wants and needs from you will mean that you can hone in on the specifics of who you need to target.
You might, for example, have realized that you want to work with career changers who are still working in senior management jobs earning $70,000 pa who are willing to spend $1000+ on career coaching to help them to radically change their career.
That means you will avoid networking in the wrong groups, offering career coaching to people who can’t afford your services or who are not at the same stage as the ideal client that you’ve identified.
Now that you’ve figured out who your ideal client is (you might even have doodled a little picture of them…)
(…or not) but what use is this information to you?
Make yourself desirable
Now, you want to make yourself as attractive as possible to that ideal client. You want to move in the circles that they move in – on and offline – and you want to speak their language, positioning yourself and your offer as the ideal solution to their problem.
Establish yourself as the expert in your niche and start hanging out where they hang out. When you do this, you will start to get an even clearer picture of what they need and want and can tailor your offer and your messages even more.
Keep doing this – keep listening and responding to the needs and wants of your ideal client – and before too long, you will find that they are searching you out to take advantage of your products and services.Starting a freelance biz? Figure out how to find your ideal client - & why Click To Tweet
Please let me know how you’re getting on with creating your ideal client profile – or if you’re struggling to figure out who they might be, please put your questions in the comments below. And, of course, if you know someone who is trying to figure out how to find their ideal client, please share this post with them (just use the sharing buttons at the top!).