It feels good to get paid. But it feels great to knock the socks off a client – to make them cheer, or cry, or simply smile with this complete satisfaction and confidence in what you created for them.
What doesn’t feel great is if you just hit a wall at every step, you feel like expectations are completely off-base from each other, and in the end, even if they’re happy, you’re just happy to be done.
You want to like your job. And when you work for yourself, there comes a point where you have, in fact, created a job of your own making. You’ve settled down into your routines, settled into the flow of busy times and not-so-busy times, and you aren’t as freaked that you’ll never get another client again (but sure are grateful when you do!)
You want to like your clients. But here’s the thing – liking your clients isn’t about them being better clients, it’s about you being a better creative expert. (click to tweet)
How can you share your offering as a creative expert… if you don’t know yourself?
Before you start listing off all the kind of clients you don’t want – or even dreaming about the ones you do – start with you. What is the work you want to be doing? What are you best at? What is your style and voice? Because the real shift happens from being a “creative-for-hire” to a “creative-with-a-clear-purpose” when you are able to infuse your work, your actions, your content, and your offerings with what you’re best at + what you know about your dream client: their pains, their wants, their personality, their dreams.
How can share your offering to your dream client… if you don’t know them?
Okay, so now imagine your dream client. They may be someone you’ve worked with in the past – or just the kind of person (or project!) you’d like work with in the future. How real can you make them? The more specific you can get, the more you can narrow in on your “people!”, the more “psychic” you’ll feel when you’re creating just for them – and the more enthusiastic approval you’ll get along the way.
When your work exceeds your client’s wildest expectations, it makes you feel like a true creative expert. (click to tweet)
This is a fill-in-the-blank exercise we created for designers, but really, it works for almost anyone working for themselves. Give it a skim before you give it a try. If you feel yourself nodding along, or even shouting a few “yes’s!” as you go, then this script is just for you:
My ideal client is most likely a ___ [ job / profession / business ]______.
They’re about ___ [ age ] ____ old, and are ______ [ personality trait ] _____.
They can also be very _____ [ personality trait ] & [ personality trait ] ________.
They’re stressed about ___________ [ worry / roadblock ] __________.
Let’s call them ____ [ name! maybe a movie character or someone you know ] ___.
They value ___________ [ resource / trait / or skill of yours ] ______________.
But they really love ___________ [ a deeper awesomeness of yours ] _______.
So they trust others who _____ [ do this / are like this ] _____________.
When we work together, they’re happily surprised that I ___ [ did this / helped with this! ] ___.
And together we __________ [ created / built this ] ____________________.
I love that this project added _______ [ kind of style / content ] ____ to my portfolio.
I want more work like ____ [ project type, project type ] ____ for clients like these!
A Little Extra Credit: Imagine you overheard the dream client you “made real” above chatting about you in a coffee shop. You are totally going to eavesdrop on their conversation. Write down two things you would HATE to hear them say – your worst fear. Then write down two things you would LOVE to hear them say – like it makes you blush! Or makes you do a little happy dance by yourself over in your hiding spot, you creeper, you. Then ask yourself: Are the fears as really as bad, or even as “real” as you think? Don’t you think the “loves” are things your friends, clients and peers might be saying about you anyway!? Just some extra food for thought and a little dash of confidence to start doing after your dream clients.