Not only is your ideal client someone you would love to work for and be around, but it is someone who would love to hire you.
But how do you know who this person is and where are they hiding?
When I first started out I was hungry and I took any client I could. I was just so happy someone actually wanted me to take their picture, that I did not care who they were or what they wanted. I even let them negotiate with me so much that I would actually be losing money on the job!
Looking back, not only was this a disservice to me and my son, who also likes to eat, but this was an even bigger disservice to the actual client. I could not afford to take my time and do a good job. I was exhausted and could not do my best work.
If you are walking into a situation where you are not being appreciated, you are not going to be doing your best work either. However, I was not confident enough to charge what I needed to. No one tells you how to do that. They just say, "Identify your target client and go find where they hang out and go do that..." It took me years to truly figure out how to do this, or what this even meant. I understood it in concept, but in reality it was a very vague concept and I was very vague about who I was attracting. Think of asking your 18 year old self what your husband is going to be like….“Well, he is going to be really good looking, make good money, really love me, want to spend all his free time with me, and not complain when I shop to much.” Well, that is a good start, but let’s face it...that is not really exact. I almost fell asleep writing that, so you might even be asleep now!
When you figure out and write down who your ideal client is you set an intention. When you then set an intention you then start to attract it. That may sound a little too new age but it is true.
I hear a lot of photographers say “I want a bride who values photography and has the style-me-pretty aesthetic and budget, but is really laid back and easy going.” Or "I want a bride who really values photography." Well, I would also like a unicorn that slides down a double rainbow, but we all have to live in reality, right? While that bride probably does exist, you need to narrow it down a thousand times more to make them a real person. I know a lot of people talk about this, but what does it really mean?
I dated this guy who got hired to work for a successful athletic clothing company. After first meeting with them, he told me how in detail they went into about who their ideal client was. They had a name, car model type and year, what they liked to do in their free time, Where they liked to shop, what their friends were like, what their partner was like and what their values were. Both personally, professionally, and spiritually.
See, once you have all this dialed down you can find, attract and emotionally connect with your "person". You have to emotionally connect with your ideal client for them to trust you and want to work with you. You have to know exactly who they are, not who you want them to be. Yeah....what? You can’t just make up an imaginary person, make them appear and want to give you thousands of $$. While you do have to have an imagination and make up a lot of stuff, you have to be realistic also, based upon what you are able to do. If you are a man that wants boudoir clients you are probably not going to have your ideal client be women, who are more conservative and shy about their bodies. That is going to be hard for you to dominate that market. Not saying you might get a few in there, but from now on, you only want your ideal client.
For me when I started charging more I started attracting my “ideal client” because these people valued me, and I in turn, valued them. This was a big factor for me with my ideal client. They trusted me and that they valued me and my time. They did not nit pick everything I did, and they also felt good after seeing pictures of themselves...not worse.
Now, when you are starting out, it is totally ok to take any and every job. We'll just call them "learning experiences" and let them show you who your ideal client is. I truly believe that every nightmare client out there is brought to you to teach you a lesson, and make it so you can avoid those types of situations and not get in a worse one later. However, narrowing down who your ideal client is, will help you save time, $$ marketing, help you avoid some sleepless nights and having to crawl in the fetal position, too scared to look at your phone.
How do I narrow down to my "ideal client"?
Write it down...exactly. For example, "I want a bride who likes bright and airy images, loves emotion in their wedding pictures and wants pictures of their friends having a good time. She is working with an amazing planner and stylist who is going to come up with some awesome wedding details so they can have a stress free day. In their free time, the couple likes to hike on their days off and do things outside. They are avid readers of some slightly nerdy tech and business blogs and both of them frequent instagram and pinterest. She does not wear a lot of makeup or beauty products. He likes to play guitar and is an indie music lover. They both love to listen to live music and go to concerts. They have a dog or other animals. They are more than likely to refer to their fiancé as their "best friend". They are looking for a non-traditional wedding, where not having a cake cutting or possibly seeing each other before their wedding is totally normal."
Doing this may seem a little silly and at first like a waste of time, but I really believe that writing things down help bring them to a reality. You also really need to narrow down your target client so that you know exactly where and how to attract this person. You know how and what to post on social media to connect with them, and have them excitedly contacting YOU, ready to book.