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We are one month into 2022 already and I don’t know about you, but I kind of cannot believe that! I feel like every time February comes around, I’m like “wait I just set my goals for the year”. And at this point, if you’re a business owner you may be starting to look back at those goals and see how they’re coming along. Whether or not you’re reaching smaller goals to hit a bigger goal this year or seeing how many clients you have lined up ahead of you, this is kind of the point where we start to reassess how we’re doing this year!
We’re only one month in but that can be an indicator sometimes what the rest of the year is ging to look like for us. And if you’re anything like me, you like to have a plan moving forward! A lot of things that I see around this time of year, sometimes you know starting at the beginning of the year, but as people kind of get their footing into a brand new business year, I start to see people manifesting certain clients that they want for that year. So if you don’t know what I’m talking about, basically it is the act of putting out into the universe what kind of clients you want to work within that coming year. And there’s more to it than just writing down what types of clients you want. That is a form of manifestation, but I think that there are actionable steps that you can take as well when you are searching for clients that are going to be dream projects of yours.
WHY DO WE NEED AN IDEAL CLIENT
I think it’s always great to have this ideal client or dream project in mind when you’re starting a new year or even partway through the year if you want to kind of reassess where your business is heading. But I think that’s so helpful for any business owner because having an ideal client is going to inform a lot of decisions that you make throughout the year. it’s going to change how you market. it’s going to change how you write your copy for your website. it’s going to change the kind of imagery that you put out there to market yourself and just to show off your work. We’re going to kind of talk about a few of these things today. I think that while it’s wonderful to be able to pinpoint these ideal clients and it certainly helps a lot of things, there are ways that you can actively pursue these types of clients as well and so that’s kind of where my focus is going to be in today’s podcast.
I’m gonna go about this in a couple of ways, I want to talk about it specifically from a service-based business standpoint. There are things that you can do if you are more of a product based business or maybe you’re a blogger and you’re seeking out sponsorships and things like that, that’s a bit of a different conversation though I think that you could implement some of these things into your approach to your business this year .
Specifically I’m going to be focusing on service base businesses. I’m obviously going to give my perspective as a graphic designer, but I think there are other businesses that can manifest clients any very similar way because we are all kind of marketing and presenting ourselves in a very similar way whether you are a photographer, an event planner, a social media manager or really anything where you are offering a service to your clients.
HOW DO YOU START TO MANIFEST DREAM CLIENTS?
The very first step that I think you should take is just writing down those ideal or dream clients. I’m a big believer in putting things in writing I think that once something is written down you’re more likely to pursue it or to take steps to actually make it happen so this is an opportunity for you to really deep dive into what you want your business to look like. Who are the clients that you would absolutely love to work with, that you think would just make you feel so fulfilled in your business, make you excited to work every day? what do those clients look like?
A lot of times we see you down in the if you can to you you want to go with a coffee shop or maybe you want to work with a boudoir photographer if you’re a social media manager maybe there is a certain industry that you really wanna focus on this year you know maybe you want to do social media for restaurants or maybe you want to do social media for realtors or other creative business owners like graphic designers maybe if you’re a wedding photographer you would like to focus more on elopements instead of large scale weddings certainly with the pandemic I know a lot of wedding photographers are kind of repositioning themselves to be smaller more intimate ceremonies.
so when you think about your ideal client it’s OK to be really specific I think that actually helps a lot it really lets you think about what aspects of these clients are drawing me to them. what kind of things could I offer to the specific types of clients if someone were to come to me and really want a specific service? how could I prove to them that I can handle that how can I show them that I am the best fit for what they’re looking for? so you can start to see how this would shape your marketing and how this would change how you present yourself on all platforms.
what you show off in your portfolio how you handle conversations with certain clients writing down these ideal clients in these dream projects I feel like is a fantastic place to start. but I think that a lot of people stop there and that’s really just the first step. that’s not all that manifesting is, you don’t just write them down and say “OK I’m putting it out into the universe I hope that the universe brings people my way”! I don’t think that’s actually how it works. And if it does work that way for you, amazing! Wonderful for you! But for the rest of us, we have to take actionable steps to actually make these dream projects a reality.
SHARE IT WITH THE WORLD
After you have written down these ideal clients, I think the next thing that you need to do is you need to share this list with the world. Either in your Instagram feed (or, if that doesn’t quite fit with your Instagram feed, share it in your stories). I see a lot of people just literally sharing a screenshot of notes that they have jotted down. It can be something as simple as that. If that doesn’t feel like your cup of tea, start to integrate terminologies or things that you want to attract into your captions or into the work that you’re showing.
If you, say as a graphic designer, really really want to work with social media managers and you want to help them have a really well thought out brand, then I would suggest that you start to include wording in the captions of your posts geared towards social media managers. Answer questions that they may be having, start pointing out things that you know about their industry that you could really help them with. That’s a way of sharing your list of ideal clients with the world without just literally sharing a list.
I think both approaches work really really well. One is definitely a bit more subtle than the other one and may take more time than just putting it out there that you wanna work with certain brands this year. I see a lot of graphic designers, like I said, just posting a list of the types of clients that they’re really intrigued by or that they would love to add to their portfolio and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that! I think that’s fantastic, because then if you have people following you that are interested in that, or that fall within that industry as well, they may be more likely to be reaching out to you and DMing you. and saying “hey! I’ll actually I’m thinking about starting a business with XYNZ!” or “I’ll actually AM this type of business owner and I’ve been wanting to work with you for a while, could we chat?” You’d be surprised how many people just need that extra bit of encouragement in order to step forward and say “Yes! I want to talk with you and I wanna hear about your services!”
I see a lot of wedding photographers now, again with the pandemic, they’re wanting to target smaller weddings, maybe just couple elopements that don’t have a ton of family and friends and all of that, and I think it’s really helpful for them to post about wanting to take on more elopements. Saying “this is really where my passion is, I really love helping couples create a wedding day that is really truly them and or that’s really adventurous!” and those sorts of things are going to resonate with people that are either already following you or that or finding you and coming across your profile and saying “Hey, that sounds like me! I definitely want an adventurous wedding! I definitely want this kind of experience for my partner and I on our wedding day.”
Sharing your list is what you need to do in order to just put it out there into the universe if you will. You’re allowing others a glimpse into what you’re really excited about in your business and what you can offer your ideal client.
Then let’s take it a step further maybe these people aren’t following you yet or maybe you don’t have a lot of “ins” in the industry…
SHOW UP IN THE SPACES YOUR IDEAL CLIENT FREQUENTS
I think the next thing that you need to do is to show up in the spaces that those ideal clients are already hanging out in. So if you feel like your ideal client is in several Facebook groups, and you want to be a part of that, definitely join those Facebook group,s share your expertise within the group, help out people that are in that group and then they can spread the word within their industry
I know a lot of graphic designers have started that way when they’re looking for clients specifically in a certain type of industry .If you’re a graphic designer that wants to work with bloggers: there are so many blogging groups out there that are giving people pointers and helping people get started or even you know teaching each other how to get sponsorships and things like that. So if you want to work with bloggers, show up in those groups and then when someone has a question about graphic design then you can interject and say “hey, I actually can help you with this. Shoot me an email or we should have a coffee chat over zoom and we can talk about it.” That way you’re getting in front of those people. You are becoming someone within an industry that maybe they don’t connect and maybe they don’t know a designer that could help
If joining Facebook groups does not sound fun to you, I know that that used to be kind of the go to for those of us that start our businesses during Facebook‘s hay day, but if you’re not on Facebook or that just doesn’t sound like something you wanna do, show up in spaces where your clients are on other social media platforms.
Instagram is really easy to find ideal clients. Go through hashtags, start curating your explore page to show you clients that you’re really interested in and you can do that just by commenting or liking, just engaging with the types of clients that you like to work with. That way those types of clients will start to show up in your feed and hopefully follow you and engage with you as well.
If you think your ideal client is on TikTok, or on another platform, then start putting your focus onto those platforms and start trying to answer questions or be helpful about what you know about that specific industry. If you’re a social media manager, and you’re on TickTock, start sharing what you can do for your ideal client. Start talking about what you have expertise in and what you’re already doing for the clients that you already have.
All of this allows you to basically be in the room, or get an audience, with people that are outside of your own industry.
I think so often we get into this mindset of following other people that do similar types of things that we do so that we can keep up with current trends, and we can see what other people are offering so that we can be competitive in our business, and also just to lift each other up. I absolutely love the friends that I’ve made in the graphic design community and I love to see what they’re working on and I love to engage with their posts and help their content be seen as well. But then if your entire feed on every social media platform is just people also in your industry, you may not be reaching those potential clients like you want to. So it may take a bit of stepping outside of your comfort zone and showing up in those spaces that your clients are hanging out in an order to catch their attention.
MAKE THE FIRST MOVE
Now the next thing that you can do is to actually reach out to these potential clients and try to work with them that way. This is called cold pitching. You can either do cold emailing or cold DMing, whatever you feel comfortable with. This has not necessarily been an approach that I have always felt comfortable with. I did this a lot when I was first starting out. I really wanted to work with bloggers when blogging was really a new industry and people were figuring out how they could turn this into a business. I really wanted to lift those women up and give them a platform that they could create a business for themselves based off of their lifestyle or based off of their fashion style or whatever that may be.
Cold pitching can be kind of an intimidating thing though because you are very much putting yourself out there in a very vulnerable way and saying “hey, I really want to work with you! Would you wanna work with me as well?” and that’s a little bit different than how the typical inquiry process would go. Obviously we would wait for clients to come to us and say that they’re interested in us and that’s obviously ideal. But if you are really dead set on working with a type of client, or maybe even a specific person within that industry that you’re interested in, sometimes it takes just reaching out to that person and saying “ I really want to work with you! I could provide this service and this service.”
Another approach to cold pitching is to reach out to those potential clients, or the ideal clients, and tell them “I would like to get some information from you about some pain points that someone in your industry is experiencing. Could you answer a few questions for me?”.
I did this with wedding photographers because I absolutely love working with photographers. I think beautiful imagery makes every layout look better. So I did this a couple years ago. I had some friends in the wedding industry and I reached out to each of them and I said “This is kind of random but I’m really hoping to target more wedding photographers within my graphic design business. Would you be willing to answer a few questions for me?” and those of them that came back and said “yeah! Absolutely no problem!” I sent them a form through Dubsado, which I already use for my client on-boarding and communication in general, and this was a really simple survey. It basically was like “What are some areas that you think wedding photographers struggle with when they’re marketing themselves?” and “Where do you think wedding photographers need a bit of help when it comes to their design work and marketing themselves?” It was just a few questions like that, maybe like 10 questions, getting to the heart of “what are some pain points that you see in your industry?” or “what are some things that you personally feel when you’re trying to keep your brand consistent” or “what are some things that you love about your website? What are some things that you don’t love about your website?” All of those kinds of questions that then I could turn into basically a marketing tool.
I could then kind of center my content on social media platforms around answering those questions for these already ideal clients. I figure if I got a few answers from a few wedding photographer friends that overlapped then that told me that that was probably an issue that a lot of people were facing. But, I will say, that even when doing these questionnaires this is something that actually put me in a place with these friends of mine that were wedding photographers where I was someone that was curious about their pain points. I was someone that was invested in learning about how I could help them and make their business better. So I’ve actually gotten to work with some of those people because then when they were looking to redo their website or their brand they already thought “OK Catryn is already trying to work with wedding photographers. She’s already listening to our needs. She’s already thinking about how to help wedding photographers and position their businesses a bit better.” and so some of those friends that answered the questionnaires for me came back and have decided to work with me. That’s kind of a roundabout way of saying: sometimes you can even use your market research as a way of connecting with people further and putting you at the forefront of their mind as someone in that industry that could potentially be worth hiring.
Even if you’re a social media manager maybe you can reach out to your ideal client and you do a similar thing. Say “hey, I love what you do! I’m really interested in the type of work that you’re doing. I really want to work with people like you. Would you be interested in either having a zoom chat with me or answering a few questions?” I think the questionnaire thing is kind of easier on people because there’s not the pressure to be super sociable in a meeting. I just found that to be easier on me as well because I can be quite introverted when I’m meeting people for the first time and I always get really anxious that I’m going to seem not knowledgeable or silly even to them. So I really like just having a form that I can send out to them and, when they have a free chance, they can answer some questions and if they have anything that they wanna ask me they always have the opportunity to do that as well. That’s just a little insight into some cold pitching that doesn’t necessarily have to just be sending an email and putting yourself in a position where it can be really scary.
After you have done some of these things. maybe you are recognizing that you don’t have anything to share or anything to show off from your work that would attract these types of clients:
CREATE PERSONAL PROJECTS AS EXAMPLES
After you have done some of these things, maybe you are recognizing that you don’t have anything to share or anything to show off from your work that would attract these types of clients, I think one of the best things that you can do for your business and for your marketing is to create some personal projects with those potential clients in mind.
Again, I see this a lot in the graphic design world if you are wanting to target a specific type of client, and you just haven’t had the opportunity to work with anyone like that before, there is absolutely nothing wrong with doing some personal projects based around the industries that you wanna work in and using that as marketing content. One of my friends she wanted to start working with more e-commerce, or Shopify type businesses, businesses that were selling products and so she started to really curate the marketing content she was putting out there to be focused on product based businesses. She was showing off mock ups for e-commerce websites, she was really sharing her knowledge about product based businesses and what they need to focus on with their website and branding, and of course she started attracting more of that type of client because they could see what she could offer them, and, if they were really attracted to the mockups and the knowledge that she had, then they were more likely to book with her.
I think for a lot of potential clients they don’t know what you could create for them or do for them until you show them. So again if you are a wedding photographer, and you really want to work with more elopements, do a styled shoot! Get some of your wedding vendor friends together, maybe a florist, maybe a boutique that has beautiful dresses, so that you can fake an elopement. Have models in a situation where you would absolutely love to photograph a real couple.
This happens all the time! This is not something that is sneaky or a weird thing to do by any means! Especially if you own it! I think that if you’re putting it out there and saying “This was such a fun styled shoot! I absolutely love working with elopements and if anyone else wants to open this area hit your girl up!”
Same thing if you’re a graphic designer. I think that if you’re showing off work that isn’t an actual client project, I think it’s totally fine to say “This was something that I’ve dreamed of working on and I’m so excited with how this is turning out.” Just a work in progress… I’m learning how to do this skill set. That works really well for social media managers! If you’re saying “I’m working on really nailing down CRM‘s and being able to offer that to my clients” and then show some of the background of you implementing workflows and on-boarding processes, that’s going to entice your ideal client to say “I actually need that in my business! I need to reach out to this girl.” Don’t be afraid to just try things and market yourself with those things.
I actually have an entire episode on how personal projects can shape your business, so if you’re interested in learning more about personal projects and how I have implemented that in my business and how I’ve used that to market myself, check out that podcast linked on the sidebar of this episode.
Personal projects are a great way to just fill out your portfolio and give you things to show off for those ideal clients to see and resonate with. That kind of overlaps with my next point which is:
UPDATE YOUR PORTFOLIO – REFLECT YOUR DREAM CLIENT
update your portfolio to reflect some of these dream clients and dream projects. Once you have done a few of these personal projects that are really geared towards this ideal client, show those off in your portfolio! There is absolutely no harm done by showing something that you have created even if it was a styled shoot or a fake branding project or whatever. You still created that! So show that off in your portfolio!
This way when people come to your website even days, weeks, months, maybe even years after you’ve posted about it on social media, they can still come to your portfolio and see the types of projects that are going to resonate with them the most. And I guarantee you, once you start doing some personal projects and showing what you can do for a specific type of client, you will get clients in that industry booking with you and then you will have actual client work to point to. So at some point you may not need the personal projects but they are absolutely fantastic way to fill out your portfolio, and, like I said, there’s nothing wrong with showing something off that you have created even if it wasn’t for a specific client.
Again, I do like to be transparent when I show off a personal project and say that “This wasn’t necessarily a client project. This was me testing something: either working on my typography skills or testing out a certain layout or maybe even testing out something in my coding and development skills.” but people love to see that and they’re going to resonate with that and say “oh I need that for my brand!” or “I need that for my website!” So fill out your portfolio and keep your portfolio up-to-date with the skills that you currently have!
I hesitated to say the people would find it years later and still resonate with it but I think that if your main portfolio is more up-to-date than that then you’re going to resonate with people that really connect with your current style and your current skill set. I know that with things like photography and graphic design those skill sets change so quickly and you start to find your own style as you’re working! So sometimes even work that you’ve done the year before doesn’t even look like what you do now. Definitely keep your portfolio up-to-date but I think if you’re showing off your work through blog posts or something like that, that kind of hangs around for much longer, you may still have people finding you through Pinterest or through other websites that your blog posts are living on for a much longer period of time. So you may have people that come to you because of a personal project that you did years ago and that’s OK! I think that even when you’re meeting with them and you say “Oh! That was actually something that I did as a personal project back then and now I’ve been able to implement that with these clients!” and point them to other examples of maybe more current work. But that’s kind of getting on down the line of this trickle down effect, but definitely utilize things that are going to connect with those ideal clients in your portfolio! Don’t be afraid to show off what you’re doing and what you’re exploring.
Another great way to create content that not only attracts ideal clients but could also make you some money at the same time is to:
CREATE THINGS YOU CAN SELL ON A SMALLER SCALE
create things that you could potentially sell or entice your ideal client through snippets into working with you.
Maybe you are a service-based business owner and you’re trying to get into educational continent and you wanna position yourself as an expert in that and you wanna market to maybe other designers or if you’re wedding photographer, maybe other photographers, you can sell things to those people it just gives them a slight insight into what it would be like to work with you. For wedding photographers, of course, an easy one is presets, or maybe you sell your guide to booking certain clients, or maybe you sell your guide books on what you give to clients on how to shape their perfect wedding day and all that kind of stuff.
Not only would that attract potential clients that would be interested in your photography skills, because it shows that you are an expert and you’re educating others, but it can also attract those clients that are looking for that education and they’re buying from you, and then you have extra continent to market yourself with.
The same thing goes for designers. I think that you can design maybe premade brands or themes or something that’s going to sell to your ideal client and get them excited about maybe booking a larger package with you in the future. That’s something that you can design for a specific type of business. Maybe you design a brand specifically for a wine company and if there is a start up wine shop or vineyard out there that’s looking for branding, they may come across that project or that pre-made brand and be really interested in what you can do for them. Don’t hesitate either to kind of capitalize on these personal projects in order to make them more worth it. I think it’s always worthwhile to create things to market yourself but money is also a great incentive to feel like you’re putting something out there, you’re marketing with it, but people can also purchase it from you as well.
Now we’ve reached kind of the stage of things where you have done a lot of the manifesting: you have written down your ideal clients, you’ve shared that list with the world, you have shown up in the spaces that they’re hanging out, you’ve reached out to maybe potential clients that you already know or that you’d be interested in working with, you’re creating work with them in mind, and you’re sharing it in your marketing content and in your portfolio, then what happens if those people are still not ready to pull the trigger?
What if you have people following you that would love to work with you but they’re just still not sure if they are ready for that investment or if they really need the services that you’re providing?
CONSIDER A LIMITED TIME DISCOUNT FOR YOUR DREAM CLIENTS
I think the next thing that you could do is give a limited time discount to certain dream clients.
Now this is not gonna be for everyone. Not everyone likes to give discounts and that is totally totally fine! But I think that giving limited time discounts for certain types of clients can really push those people that are on the edge over into actually booking with you.
If you are a social media manager and you really really want to work with graphic designers, if you gave a limited time discount to graphic designers to help set up their on boarding process for them I guarantee that there would be graphic designers out there that would jump at the chance to have you look over their on boarding process and help them with it. And when you have it as a discount for a limited time that’s going to put some urgency behind it. It’s going to encourage people to do it quickly and not put it on the back burner for later. That’s why I like the limited time discount aspect of it.
Having a discount for certain types of clients just on and on I don’t think really works just because people are going to say “OK, well, if they have this discount now, I’m not really ready to purchase that so maybe I’ll wait a few more months…” and then maybe they’ll forget or maybe by that time they’ll find someone else they’d rather work with.
Instead, as a wedding photographer, if you say “I’m really trying to book more elopement this year so if you were a couple looking to elope contact me because the first five couples that get in contact with me are going to get 20% off their elopement” that can be a HUGE incentive for people and that’s even something that friends would maybe tag their other friends that are engaged in that post. It can be an incentive for people that just know of potential clients and maybe don’t even follow it yet.
So I think a limited time discount, again maybe not for everyone if you were just not comfortable offering discounts and you know what you want to charge and you’re not willing to go below that: totally fine! I would encourage you if you are in that kind of mindset though to maybe raise your prices and then give a discount back down to what you’re comfortable charging for that project. That’s always an alternative. People don’t have to actually know that you would’ve done it for that price originally.
Or if you just absolutely don’t want to have the term discount on your website or marketing content you can always have tiered services and just say “if you really want an elopement, for this limited time, I am doing it for this price” and that way you can advertise a discount without necessarily saying “this is a bargain and I’m doing it for cheaper than I would originally.” Because really you need to be charging what feels right for you and what covers your baseline costs and something that you feel comfortable with. Don’t feel like you have to do a discount that actually loses you money on the project in the end.
But there’s no denying that clients love to get a discount and feel like they’re getting a bargain while also getting top-notch work. This is just another way to put it out there that for certain types of clients you will in fact do that work for something that feels like a steal to them but it doesn’t have to be discounting your own worth in the process.
I hope that you can start to see that with all of this manifesting that we’re doing is so much more than just writing it down and hoping that the universe aligns us with our absolute dream clients! All of these things that I detail today are actionable steps that you can do again and again and pursue different clients at different times of your business.
Like I said, I started out really pursuing bloggers. I absolutely love my blogger clients! I am now really loving working with wedding photographers and you know that may change in the future as well. I may find that maybe I really do want to focus more on my e-commerce clients and start to transition that way.
The wonderful thing about manifesting clients is it can update, your list can update, with you as you shape your business into what you want your business to be. You’re never stuck in a certain industry. You’re never pigeonholed into something that doesn’t just light your soul on fire. You should always be pursuing projects that are going to make you feel super creative and super energized and make you come alive in your work because that ultimately is why we all started these businesses in the first place, right? We all wanted to have this freedom and passion behind the work that we do everyday. So do not be afraid to manifest clients and dream projects in this way as the year goes on.
We are already one month into 2022, there is a lot of time to find those clients that we are just so excited to work with, and if you are using any of these manifestation techniques, or if any of these ideas that I’ve brought to your attention today have really excited you, please let me know on Instagram either in our DM‘s or in our comments! I love to hear from you guys and to hear about the types of things that you’re really excited about in your business and what you’re striving for this year! So let’s have a chat! You can ask me any question or just let me know the type of content you would like to see here on the podcast or on the blog so that I can really lift up you and your business in 2022.