Makes sense, doesn’t it? I was just getting started—meaning I was eager to get my hands on pretty much any paying opportunity I could scrounge up.
But, as I’ve moved forward in my business, I’ve realized how important it is to zone in on the people that I really want to work with—people and brands that will be a perfect fit with not only my services, but also my working style.
I’ve seen this term defined numerous different ways. But, here’s how I look at it: An ideal client is someone who finds exactly what he or she is looking for in your services. You meet a great need for them.
However, I also like to take this one step further—my ideal client is someone that I enjoy working with. As a freelance writer, my ideal client requires me to write about topics that actually interest me. Beyond that, this client is easy for me to work with. Their processes gel perfectly with my current workload.
It sounds like a simple idea in theory, doesn’t it? But, identifying your ideal client isn’t always as simple as 1,2,3.
Now, there are numerous ways to approach this—particularly if you sell a product or even a different type of service. So, I’m going to be selfish and look at this topic strictly through the lens of a freelance writer. Here are four questions I asked myself to determine my ideal client.
For me, my ideal client wants content that relates to one of my interests or passions. That can be any number of things. But, the bulk of my work right now is focused on career-related content. It’s something I enjoy writing about, and it’s rewarding to provide advice and tips that help people truly make a difference in their own careers.
Now that I have the luxury of filtering through clients without having to take every project that lands in my lap, this is the area where I try to place the majority of my focus. If a client needs career-related content, they’re immediately bumped to the top of my list.
Of course, you need to think beyond just what you want. You also need to consider what you’re capable of. This means you should have least a little expertise to bring to the table in that desired area.
Before I actually began writing career content, I was a resume writer. This gave me some great background for approaching these topics. Don’t get frustrated here—you likely have some sort of knowledge or experience to offer. Just make sure that you’re clear on what that is.
The more work you pile on your plate, the more important this becomes. And, often, I find I get quite a bit of say in what my arrangement with a particular client looks like.
Typically, I prefer to work on a per-project basis. The client and I have a clear understanding of how many articles I’ll turn in during any given week or month, and I’m paid per project—rather than by the hour. This makes it easier to manage my workload, deadlines, and invoicing. So, if a client doesn’t fit this mold, I find I’m much less inclined to work with them.
Finally, you get down to the nitty gritty. After all, you need to be able to pay your bills. And, while in the beginning I was willing to take anything that promised at least some pay, I’ve gotten pickier as I’ve continued to grow.
Now, I always have a bottom line—my lowest acceptable rate—in my head. If a client isn’t able to meet that? Well, it’s pretty simple: we likely won’t be working together. It sounds cutthroat, but it’s necessary!
Admittedly, this has become the piece I’m the least flexible about. Since there are only so many hours in the day, I want to ensure I’m maximizing my time for the greatest amount of profit. So, while it’s still a little unnatural for me to be that direct, it has actually really helped me earn more while working less. That’s the dream isn’t it?
There you have it—four basic questions I’ve asked myself to really narrow my focus and zone in on the people, publications, and brands I really want to work with. If an opportunity comes across my lap that doesn’t fit all (or, at the very least, most) of these criteria, it’s probably not something I’m going to consider moving forward with.
How do you sort through the noise and zone in on your ideal client? What questions do you ask yourself?
Until next time!