Who are the clients you naturally gravitate towards?

In my experience as a business coach for creative freelancers and entrepreneurs, I’ve learned that graphic designers, website designers, and photographers often target other small creative businesses as clients. The reasons being that (a) they relate to them (b) they get excited about the launch of a new business (c) there is more perceived freedom in these projects.

I say "perceived" because the opposite is often true. While wonderful people, small business owners tend to be emotionally attached to their business and unwilling to relinquish control. Not to mention, they usually have small budgets.

If your goal is to build a viable business that you can grow, you need to make money. For most of us, that means we need to upgrade our mindset and reach for better-paying clients. Is it uncomfortable? Sure. Will it require work? Absolutely. But the good news is, it takes the same amount work to position your business to clients with money as it does to clients with no money. If you’re convinced, but feel a little intimidated about getting started, here are four ways to get better paying clients:

1) Know what you offer and the results you deliver

I can't tell you how many times I've asked a freelancer what they do and they say "Oh, everything". And when I ask what types of clients they work with, they say "Everyone". It's human nature to cast a wide net, hoping that we'll catch more fish.

But the fact is, the high-caliber clients that you're targeting aren't looking for a generalist. They want someone who specializes in solving the exact issue they have. By defining your niche, your work will become stronger (building your reputation within your field), you can market your services to a much smaller group of clients (which is actually a relief) and you can charge more for your services because people will pay for specialized services.

2) Know who your ideal client is

When I first started my coaching practice, my target clients included design school graduates. While I still love participating in college workshops and panels (that youthful energy is hard to resist!), there are a couple of reasons why students are not my ideal clients; (1) my background in creative management was solely focused on representing high-level and established talent.

I realized that it didn't make sense for me to target an entirely different group of people whose needs I didn't understand as well (2) students don't have any money, so the people I'd need to market to were the parents, requiring me to develop a whole new list of contacts.

3) Create an "impression of increase"

I just heard this term and I love it. It takes a lot to get us to make a big investment, so it’s crucial we feel the quality of our lives and income will increase as a result. That's why aspiration and emotion sells and facts alone don't. Ask yourself, "Am I creating an impression of increase"? Here are a few things that will help you create that impression:

  • A nicely designed business card
  • A well-designed, well-written and easy-to-navigate website
  • Glowing testimonials and LinkedIn recommendations
  • Dressing and looking the part
  • Writing and speaking directly to your ideal clients.

If they feel confident that you understand their needs, they are more likely to buy from you.

4) Package your Services

If you want to land better paying clients, you need to make it really easy for them to work with you. Creating packages that are tailored to your ideal client’s needs demonstrates that you understand and value their time and resources.

Not sure how to package your services? Start by learning what your clients really need (which is often different from what you think they need). Then create packages that speak to those needs (feel free to use the packages on my website as a guide). There's no doubt about it, creating packages requires time and effort, but the quality of clients that you get will make it totally worthwhile.

Attracting better-paying clients starts with a premium product or service, and a commitment to do whatever it takes to make your goals a reality. It’s as much of a personal journey as a professional one. Keep learning, keep growing and enjoy your evolution.

There really is nothing sweeter than knowing your worth and being respected for the value that you bring. If you like the steps I shared in this article and would like more, you’ll love my free guide “How to Find High-Quality Clients & Get Paid What You're Worth” Download yours and start getting better clients today!

Justine Clay has been helping freelance creative talent build thriving careers for more than 15 years. She began her career in creative representation and, in 2010 Justine launched her coaching business.

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