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3 steps to finding the perfect clients

3 steps to finding the perfect clients

Freelancing can be a very rewarding lifestyle, but it’s not always the easiest career path to be on. It takes time and commitment to build your business, in addition to finding clients who will actually value the work you are doing and pay what you are worth for doing it. If you stick with freelancing long enough however, you can find incredible success and happiness doing what you love to do.

Unfortunately, the idea of doing client work has generated a very negative mindset lately. It seems that every freelancer is complaining that service work sucks or that there are greater riches in the product creation business model. The dream is that if only we could get away from clients then our world would be a much better place.

Clients or customers are a part of every business. Without them, you won’t make any money. It’s a principle that holds true whether you’re selling web design services, a revolutionary app or magic beans. No paying customers = dead business. Now that we’ve established this truth, we must consider what the real problem is.

Finding The Perfect Clients Matters

When we take on client work it’s essential that we take on the right clients. The perfect clients. If we do our homework, then there is a high probability we will find the people who appreciate what we do and who will pay us well for our services.

It’s when we get lazy and say yes to any customer with a pulse or checkbook that we begin to experience the clients from hell. There’s also a direct correlation in how we interact with potential clients to whether a project will end up as a success or a failure. If we have done our work at educating potential customers and pre-qualifying them, then our experiences in the service industry will be quite different and more joyful.

Finally, there are freelancers who question the idea of whether or not perfect clients actually do exist. The answer is yes, they do exist and they are waiting for great people to take care of them. If we are only willing to work at finding them.

Three Steps to Finding the Perfect Clients

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Define Your Perfect Client

Defining the perfect client  can be a difficult process, but it’s absolutely critical for success. You must decide who it is that you want to work with (and “everyone” is the wrong answer).

Your perfect client could be someone who loves design or values great development. They could be willing to spend $10,000 or $100,000.  The perfect client might be female entrepreneurs, MMA enthusiasts, or Fortune 500 companies. You know who you want to work with and who you resonate with the most. Write those people down and forget all the others.

The reality is that we can’t be all things to all people and we can’t work with everyone.  When we focus on a smaller target audience, we’ll discover  great clients to serve.

Think Like Your Perfect Clients

I remember reading a story about an amazing fisherman. He was the one who, no matter what the circumstance, always seemed to land the trophy fish. There could be many other fishermen around him and he would still catch the biggest fish. When asked how he was able to successfully complete this feat day in and day out, he simply said, “Think and be like the fish.”  What are they hungry for or where would they be at this time of day? What are their habits or characteristics? In order to catch the big ones, you have to think like a fish.

This is the same methodology for finding great clients.

Once you’ve determined who you want to work with, then it’s time to start thinking like your perfect client. What do they value? Where do they engage in conversations? What publications do they read? How do they search for your services? Where do they hang out?

You’ll have to do some research, but it will be worth the effort.

It sounds like a funny way to find the perfect clients but I can assure you this – it works.

Educate Your Perfect Clients

The potential client doesn’t know what they don’t know. It’s our responsibility as professionals to properly educate our target audience on the value of what we can deliver to them. We shouldn’t assume that the client is up to speed on our industry and we certainly shouldn’t look down on them because they don’t speak our language. Remember that you were a clueless newbie at one point. Treat potential clients with respect and take the time to educate them in the process.

Start writing great content for your blog or offer them free PDF books that will help their business. Give them a thirty minute consultation or respond to their email questions. Do this for nothing in return. Sure you may get some abuse, but in more cases than not, the investment will pay off.

Potential customers would rather work with someone they have come to trust over someone they know nothing about. Education is a great way to establish trust.

Final Advice

Finding the perfect clients takes time and experience, but it can be done, and it will dramatically change your business.  Start changing your mindset about doing client work and be positive that there are great people in the world to work with. Follow these three valuable tips and get on the road to success and better profits.

The perfect client is out there waiting for you. Go get em!


James Dalman is an entrepreneur and U.S. Army veteran who recently launched Happy Joe, a non-profit business that provides veterans withtraining, education, mentoring, and career opportunities in the web media and tech industries. He enjoys coaching freelancers on how to build profitable and sustainable businesses. He regularly shares his experiences on entrepreneurship and freelancing through blogs and live events. James has been in the branding, design, and web media industry for over twenty years. He has done work for clients such as HTC, BMW, Michael Hyatt, Nike Golf, Eskimo Joes, NASCAR, and Arnold Palmer.



  • John Locke says:

    This is great advice James. For many designers, just getting any client makes us happy. I’ve been guilty of this too. Defining what we want (and who we want to work with) helps makes it happens. It keeps us from drifting aimlessly, because we are asking for something specific.

    The next steps are logical: thinking of where we would find those clients we’ve defined as our ideal partners, and what do they enjoy? This helps us understand them and their passions, problems, and mindsets as well.

    Naturally, if we’re able to help those ideal clients, they are going to find us and we are going to attract them to our services. Why? Because we are preparing the way for their arrival before they show up en masse.

    Best of luck to you, James, and I look forward to reading more insightful articles from you.

  • Louis Novick says:

    Great post. Our attitude towards the clients we work with is determined by the mindset we choose to have. Knowing who your ideal clients are and how best to communicate with them is what will set your company apart from countless others. At http://yourauthenticweb.com/ we strive to help business owners and professionals find their ideal clients.

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