When we first dive into business, we’re desperate for any and all work. I’ve done it, and I’m sure you’ve done it too. We all go through this season of taking any client that comes our way. Its nothing to be ashamed about, because we’ve all done it, but the reason why I wanted to talk about this topic today is because if you as a business owner continue to take clients who are not your ideal client, you’re going to burn out pretty quick.
People call entrepreneurs the crazy ones because we’re willing to leave our cushy 9-5 job, and work doubly hard for ourselves. One of the reasons you went into business for yourself, I’m willing to bet, is because you want to work on your own terms. When we are working for clients that are not our ideal clients, we’re definitely not working on our own terms.
Being in business for ourselves is hard. I get it. I have up days, and I have down days. When running our own business there are a ton of obstacles that we encounter that we have to overcome. I call these ‘joy suckers’. These are the interactions, or tasks that we as business owners feel we have to do in order to ensure the survival of our businesses…..and our sanity and in turn what ends up stealing our joy.
First of all, a ‘joy sucker’ can literally be anything. Its anything that steals your joy. And every person has a list of ‘joy suckers’ but for every person their list is a bit different.
However, there is one constant across everybody’s ‘joy sucker’ list, and that is not working with an ideal client. We work in a service based business. That means our businesses our very much relational and dependent upon the experiences of the relationships we build with clients. Basically, if we’re not working with an ideal client, we’re going to have a terrible experience, and that client is probably not going to have the best experience either. A complete joy sucker all around.
We’ll be talking about over the next few episodes. Discovering your ideal client and how to work with your ideal client by building a client avatar. But all of this starts with realizing who our ideal client is NOT. After all, being able to eliminate who our ideal client is not, we’re able to more clearly see who our ideal clients are.
With that said, I’ve come up with a few ways to help you identify who is not your ideal client. And if you’re someone who’s said to themselves “Wow, running a business isn’t nearly as great as I thought it would be.”, its probably because you have a few ‘joy suckers’ in your life, and potentially, you could be working with the wrong client.
Alright, here we go.
You’re probably working with the wrong client if….
….that client isn’t treating you with respect.
– Again, we are in the business of building strong, equal relationships. The customer is NOT always right, and while its definitely true that we should be setting proper expectations with our clients in order to steer the experience in the right direction, we should never be treated poorly by a client.
If your client is rude, disrespectful, or overly critical of your work. It may be time to sever the relationship.
….that client wants to change something about you or your brand.
When a client asks us to change something about our work, our process, or our practices, we can probably comply, but it may subconsciously affect our work, and we may end up begrudging the client. It leads to a poor experience all around.
….you’re not enjoying the work.
Sometimes we take work because the money is good for the amount of work that has to be done, but in the end, you end up hating your work. You have material that you’d never use for your portfolio, and you feel completely burned out after the job. It isn’t worth it.
….you’re not being paid enough….or at all.
-Who’s heard this before: “It’ll be great exposure!”, or who’s thought to themselves, “I know it doesn’t pay much, but I may get a ton of referrals from this client!” Sure, you’re going to get a ton of referrals, who expect to pay what your low paying client paid. You’re ultimately setting yourself up for failure when you take low paying clients.
And, I should point out, that every photographer’s ideal price point is different, but the way you know if you’re not being paid enough, without getting into things like CODB, is if you dread the work, or the client.
Changing your price point is a VERY good way to weed out non-ideal clients
So, what can you do to ensure better clients in the future?
Well, if you’ve been at business for a little while, you probably have past clients. A good idea would be to analyze past client interactions and write down things that went well, and things that didn’t go well. List a few clients who you had bad experiences with, or didn’t enjoy, and see if any of those clients have any commonalities. This will help you identify traits of non-ideal clients, and will help you figure out what you need to change in order to start attracting more ideal clients.
If you’re just getting started and haven’t had any clients, chances are you’ve still taken your camera out to do events for family or friends. What did you love? What did you hate? What made you say to yourself, “Well, I didn’t LOVE that, but I could do it….for money.”? Thats probably not your ideal client.
Basically, to wrap up, your non-ideal client is any person that makes you say to yourself, “Well, I could work with them….if I got paid, but I don’t necessarily want to.”
Remember, you got into business because you’re passionate about something, and because you wanted to work on your own terms.
Start working for the people you WANT to work with. So come back with me next week, because we’re going to dive even deeper into discovering who your ideal client is. Can’t wait! 🙂