How to Attract Your Ideal Freelance Clients
Ideal clients pay freelancers well, give us steady work that we enjoy, and treat us with respect. And when we work with our ideal clients, we do better work and are happier—and this attracts more ideal clients.
So how do you attract your ideal clients?
The answer is simple:
Focus on them, not you.
Attract Your Ideal Clients by Solving their Problems
“The easiest way to get the attention of your ideal clients is to focus first on their problems. Then you present your services as the solution,” says Ilise Benun in “Do You Know What Keeps Your Ideal Clients Up at Night?”
I’ll be blunt. Clients don’t care about freelancers. They care about what we can do for them. That’s why we need to do client-focused marketing.
“You must offer what your potential clients want to buy, not what you want to sell or think they should want to buy,” says Michael Port in Book Yourself Solid.
Client-focused marketing focuses on the needs of your clients and how you can meet their needs. By meeting their needs, you solve their problems. Needs are sometimes called pain points. By meeting the needs of your ideal clients, you relieve or even cure their pain.
Know the Needs of Your Ideal Clients
So how do you know what your ideal clients need? Figuring this out isn’t as hard as you probably think it is.
Clients have 3 types of needs:
- Industry-, target market-, and company-specific.
Understanding the general and freelancer-specific needs is easy.
Common general, or big picture, needs of clients include:
- Get more business (usually by selling more products or services)
- Make more money (also by selling more products or services but the language you’ll use to attract these clients may be somewhat different)
- Help their clients build their businesses
- Be seen as a thought leader
- Educate and inform people
- Stay on budget and on deadline.
All clients need to stay on budget and on deadline. But the other general needs vary for different types of clients. For example:
- For-profit clients all need to get more business or make more money
- Non-profit clients generally need to educate and inform people.
When hiring a freelancer, clients need someone with excellent technical skills (writing, editing, design, etc.). They also need freelancers who:
- Understand the client’s industry
- Have experience in the type of work they’re looking for help with
- Can meet the client’s deadlines
- Have excellent communication skills
- Are flexible, accessible, and responsive
- Can take ownership of the project.
Maybe you’re very responsive and always meet your deadlines. Benun says that “flaky freelancers” who don’t follow through or miss deadlines, are very common. I agree.
So positioning yourself as a reliable freelancer will help you attract your ideal clients.
You don’t always need experience in the type of work the client is looking for help with, but you do need to have experience that’s relevant to the type of work or the client’s industry.
Know Your Industries and Target Markets
Even more important than knowing your ideal client’s general and freelancer-specific needs is knowing the needs of your industries and target markets.
That’s why you need to specialize.
Your ideal clients want to work with freelancers who understand them and have the expertise to solve their problems. These freelancers are specialists.
Choose the Right Specialty
As a specialist, you’ll also make more money, because you can choose:
- Clients who can pay freelancers well
- Industries and target markets with lots of opportunity now and in the future.
Specializing by industry, like healthcare or technology, is the easiest way to find your ideal clients and learn about them. A target market is “the group of people you serve,” says Port.
Here’s an example from my freelance medical writing business:
- Health and healthcare
My target markets:
- Hospitals/health systems
- Health care marketing agencies
- Disease-focused health organizations
Each of these target markets has different needs, although industry trends usually impact most or all of my target markets.
Choosing your specialty takes time and effort. But it’s worth it—because having the right specialty will make it much easier to attract your ideal clients and build a stable, successful freelance business.
Learn about Your Industries and Target Markets
Like choosing your specialty, learning about your industries and target markets takes time and effort.
Professional associations are a great way to learn about your industries and target markets—and to easily find ideal clients through membership directories. All professional associations have resources, many of which are only available to members, to help you learn about your target markets and stay updated on what’s happening in the industry.
Want an easy way to identify the needs of your ideal clients, or their pain points? Review the topics of the webinars, blog posts, events, and conference sessions of your professional associations.
By networking with people at events and online, you’ll also learn about industry, target market, and client-specific needs. And you can build a strong network that will help you get more referrals, especially at live conferences and other events.
Industry news, reports on trends, blog posts, podcasts, etc. are also available on the web. Find some good resources and sign up for their email lists.
Learn about Individual Ideal Clients
Learning about the needs of each ideal client isn’t hard or time consuming. Just spend a few minutes on each ideal client’s website. The “Home” and “About” pages usually have all of the information you need.
For each target market, visit the websites of about 10 of your ideal clients. Take some notes about each client’s mission/vision/values and needs, and the key language they use. When you look at this for about 10 clients in a target market, you should see some themes and language (words or phrases) that you can use in your marketing to attract them.
Show that You Understand Your Ideal Clients
Now you’re ready to develop the client-focused marketing that will help you attract your ideal clients. Choose a few needs to focus on in your marketing. Include at least 1 industry-specific need.
Develop key messages that:
- Show you understand your ideal client’s industry and needs
- Use their language and values
- Highlight how your expertise and experience will benefit the client.
Here’s an example from my business.
Targeted Medical Content. On time. Every time.
Targeted Medical Content that Attracts, Engages, and Motivates Your Audiences
My tagline and my website headline help me attract my ideal clients by quickly and clearly showing them that I understand their needs and can help them meet those needs.
Here’s how I’ve used client needs to focus my marketing:
- Stay on deadline
- Work with freelancers who can meet deadlines
- Get more business
Target market need:
- Hospitals: Get more business by getting more patients
- Health care marketing agencies: Get more business by helping their clients build their businesses
- Disease-focused associations: Get more business by educating and informing more people
“Targeted Medical Content that Attracts, Engages, and Motivates Your Audiences” shows I can help clients get more business.
“On time. Every time.” shows I help clients meet their deadlines.
Learn More About How to Attract Your Ideal Clients
Resources from The Mighty Marketer
Ilise Benun, How to Find Your Ideal Client’s Pain Points
Michael Port, Book Yourself Solid.