One of things many of my clients are always itching to come up with is their ideal client or reader profile. I’ve seen that, alongside identifying your niche, honing in on your ideal client is a major stress point for creatives in the digital space.
One popular technique is to create an ideal reader or client profile. That means knowing your ideal client inside and out, from their demographics, to their interests, and even sometimes as far as knowing their hair colour, favourite film, and go-to ice cream flavour.
Some people create a profile, others write a diary entry in the voice of their ideal client, others give them a name and keep them in their mind at all times when showing up online with their work.
And this can work, for some people and some types of businesses. Especially if you’re running a very niche business, having a clear and focused ideal client in mind can work wonders when crafting copy, content, and your services. I've seen many of my clients build Pinterest boards to represent their ideal clients, and thorough profiles to help them fully dig into the mindset and needs of the people they're here to serve with their work. But what I’ve seen some of my other clients struggle with is how stifling this model can feel sometimes when you’re a curious, big-hearted, purpose-driven creative.
As an alternative, what I share with them is my own approach to honing in on my ideal client - and why I don’t have a specific ideal reader client profile guiding me when showing up online with my creative work and business.
And why don’t I have one?
Because after working with over 60 clients I have learned that no two client are made the same.
In a single day, I will have calls with clients from all over the world - I’ll start in Australia, then in Europe, then end in America.
My clients are 20-somethings finding their feet, 30-somethings with a new baby, and 40-somethings with 3 children to take care of.
My clients range from being religious, to atheisits, to being spiritual and everything else in-between.
My clients want to run a lifestyle business where they can travel the world, they want to run a coaching business where they can do impactful work with the people they’re here to serve, they want to run a product-based business so they can spend more time with their kids, and they want to run a successful side hustle alongside the day job that they enjoy too much to quit.
Some of my clients like to relax by exercising, others by having a tarot card reading, others by indulging in a Netflix binge, and others by crafting and knitting.
Some of my clients want to make £6,000 a month, some of my clients want to make £3000 a month, and other clients want to make £1,500 a month.
Some of my clients want to work 20-hour weeks, others are happy working 40. Some of my clients want their work to take a backseat to their life, others want to give their all to their career in this season of their life.
Some of my clients are introverts, some of them are extroverts, and some of them are in the middle.
Some of my clients are photographers, others are coaches. Some of my clients are bloggers and content creators, others are copywriters, stylists, designers, and consultants.
As you can see, my ideal clients cannot be put into a box. They are not made the same, they do not all want or need the same things, and what makes them so damn awesome is how unique and different they are and how their lives, their values, and their passion and their purpose has shaped their creative work and life so far.
So here’s what I do instead:
There are a few specific things all of my ideal clients have in common:
- They want to build a creative livelihood online that is impactful, fulfilling, and sustainable
- They’re curious, big-hearted, and purpose-driven
- They want to make things happen on their own terms, in their own way, and by their own rules
- They’re willing to do the work it takes to make things happen.
I know why I want my clients to hire me:
Because they want to make space for growth in their creative journey, because they’re ready to not do this on their own anymore, and because they connect with who I am as a coach and a creative. They don’t want me to tell them what to do - instead they want me to empower them to discover what it is they want to do and how best they can make it happen.
I know what my clients are struggling with:
After working with over 60 creatives, I’ve seen the same problems come up for so many of them - but they manifest in different ways. So many of my clients struggle with finding clarity, focus, and direction and giving themselves permission to live their creative life on their own terms - but how that affects them and their productivity differs depending on how they’re wired, their personality type, and the nitty-gritty details that make them who they are. So many of my clients are struggling with their business feeling out of control or mis-aligned with the fulfilling life they want to be truly living, but the vision they have for their life isn’t the same as everyone else’s. I have to stay in-tune with the core problems my ideal clients are struggling with while still making space for the differences in how those struggles manifest for them along the way.
I know what clients I do my best work with:
I pay attention to the work I do with my clients, and I learn from every single session and client engagement. I pick up on what is working and what isn’t, and I look for patterns and also exceptions to those patterns too. For example, I know one of the types of creatives I really love working with is coaches as through the nature of their own craft they really give me the space to do my best work with them along the way.
I stay open to surprises:
There have been enough times in my business so far where on paper a client is not a dream client, but after working together they turn out to be exactly that. For example, the one demographic I do make space for when intentionally putting myself and my work out there is that I work with female creatives - and this was recently put to the test when a male client got in touch to work together. My nerves and reservations almost made me turn down this client opportunity, but I got such a good vibe from the client that I decided to be brave and say yes. After working together for a couple of months now, I can safely say he falls into the dream client camp - because he fully engages with our sessions, he’s committed to doing the work, and our mindsets align in a really productive and purposeful way. This has taught me to stay open to surprises and not box myself in too much either - sometimes what makes a client a dream client isn’t always a tangible reason, but instead something much deeper than that.
The truth is, creative business is messy. For many of us, our ideal clients cannot be put into a box or a single hypothetical diary entry. It’s crazy helpful to know our clients pain points, interests, and what makes them unique, but if you’re struggling to fit your business vision into an ideal client profile, I hope today’s post can encourage you to know there is an alternative route to take.
That route is listening to your intuition, focusing on the mindset more than you do the specifics of your ideal clients demographics, and paying attention to who you do your best work with along the way. Maybe dream clients for you are a specific demographic and niche, or maybe you're like me and you enjoy things being a little fluid and flexible along the way. Either way, when you're honing in on who your ideal clients are don't be afraid to figure it out in the way that feels the most effective and authentic to you.
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