It’s been said in the freelancing industry that a perfect client is as elusive as Bigfoot or that a perfect client simply doesn’t exist. It’s believed that as long as you are offering professional services, you’ll never discover happiness because working with anyone outside of yourself will always lead to frustration. It’s all a lie.
Meet Rick. A Perfect Client.
In the first decade of my business, I managed to find many of the worst clients to work with. I was desperate, young, and inexperienced. I believed the lies that are common in our field. I was depressed and broke. Then I met Rick.
Rick was my first perfect client. He was looking for a custom brand identity for his startup company when we first met. After some cordial small talk, I went into my presentation and then showed him my portfolio. At the end of our meeting, Rick asked me for a quote for my services. I was extremely nervous since I was trying to raise my prices, but I confidently replied it would be approximately twenty-five hundred dollars. At that moment he got quiet and turned around. I thought I’d lost the deal. But Rick picked up his check book and paid me for the entire amount. He even told me if it ended up being more, he would pay it. I was blown away!
That’s not the end of the story either. Over the next decade I continued doing more work for him (almost six figures worth) and we eventually became close friends. He became a mentor and champion of my business. Rick was truly the turning point in my business because he showed me that there are perfect clients; clients who believed in what I did and what I was worth.
The perfect client DOES exist but the problem is most freelancers don’t know how to find them.
Many freelancers make the mistake of trying to work with anyone with a pulse. They settle for any opportunity that comes their way and take on freelancing gigs that aren’t right for them. They ignore the warning signs that they’re heading into danger. Defining and finding the perfect client is never considered because it’s not believed they exist. These are a few reasons freelancers end up with the fabled “client from hell.”
The truth is out there. The perfect client does exist and if you look for the right signs, you can build a freelancing business that is profitable and enjoyable.
Five Signs of the Perfect Client
1. They don’t lead the conversation talking about money.
Perfect clients never lead the conversation with “how much will it cost” because cost is secondary to great results. The people you want to work with desire the best solutions for their specific needs. If money is their first concern, you’re in trouble.
2. They ask you for your professional opinion.
Perfect clients want to hire professionals, not butt kissers. They want to work with you because of your expertise. This is why you should be confident in your abilities and never shy away from standing your ground (nicely) when you know you have the right answer. Perfect clients respect your experience and wisdom, even if it goes against their own.
3. They pay you what you’re worth.
Perfect clients are willing to pay you your worth even if it means stretching their budget. HOWEVER, you must communicate what value you bring to them and then deliver on it. Everyone wants to be careful with their money, but perfect clients also understand they get what they pay for.
4. They are interested in relationships, not transactions.
Perfect clients may only hire you once, but usually they’re looking for a long term relationship with you or your company. Working with a new vendor is a process and an investment. That’s why most clients would prefer sticking with you and why you should do your best to take care of them.
5. They take care of their invoices on time.
Perfect clients don’t tell you the check is in the mail because they pay on time. It may be hard to believe, but there are people who actually pay you when you send the invoice. They don’t like waiting for their money either and they are respectful of your payment terms.
Finding perfect clients is hard work but it’s worth it.
Finding the perfect clients isn’t easy. If it were, no one would ever be complaining. But don’t ever believe they’re not out there. Just look for the signs and ask the right questions. You’ll discover that when your business is built around clients who value what you do, that you will be happier and fulfilled as a professional freelancer.