It’s worth spending some time thinking about your ideal freelance writing client. It makes sense to actually create an ideal freelance writing client profile and keep it where you can get to it easily for review every time you talk with someone who may want to hire you.
Wisdom is understanding that there really is no perfect writing client out there, or if there is, we wouldn’t know how to identify them even if they knocked on the door.
The goal is to recognize the good ones so you can avoid going crazy trying to please the ones you probably shouldn’t have said ‘yes’ to in the first place.
My experience tells me ideal clients come in two categories – the must haves and others who might turn into ideal clients. Let’s look at the must haves first.
Must haves in the ideal freelance writing client
These are the things I really want in a client:
They are willing and able to pay your fees as agreed – For the longest time in my writing career I failed at putting getting paid and paid on time as my number one criteria for an ideal freelance writing client. Eventually I figured out that it wasn’t shameful to expect to be paid for my work. I also realized it was up to me to qualify the client which I do by stating my prices pretty early in the conversation. In addition, I have some spelled out on my website which acts as a filter. If the potential client is reluctant to pay what I charge I may come down a bit, but no more than that. If they tell me I’m too expensive I’ll ask what they had budgeted. As soon as it’s clear they can’t or won’t afford me I thank them for their interest, invite them to consider me a resource and move on.
Needs ongoing writing – a client who needs ongoing writing is ideal because it gives me a stream of income I can count on. I don’t demand this, but I sure light up when someone approaches me saying they want a series, or a weekly blog, or whatever. I also love book ghostwriting clients who have more than one book in mind.
Wants your voice – Often, when I ask why the potential client why they contacted me they’ll say something like, “I’m not sure, but there’s something approachable about your website. I feel like we may be on the same page.” When I look at my site, www.annewayman.com, I realize it does sound like me – which is what I wanted. It’s in my voice. Somehow people who want ghostwriting seem to understand that I can also write in their voice. Or maybe they feel our voices are alike enough to make it all work. This business of voice is a bit mysterious but as you listen to clients and read lots of blogs and other writings you’ll begin to develop a sense of it.
Wants something in your niche or niches – Most writers have one or two main niches and can write in many more. These usually are the easiest kind of writing assignment. I have friends like Lori Widmer and Cathy Miller who write about insurance, and Paula Hendrickson who writes about television and John Soares who writes about the outdoors and does textbooks. Click on their links and you’ll find blogs that are not in their primary niche. (BTW, each one is in our forum along with other new and seasoned writers.)
Could turn into an ideal freelance writing client
These are the ones who may turn into ideal clients.
Wants something close to your niche – If niche writing is the easiest for us to do and do well, so is, I think, pretty much anything that’s close to our niche.
Wants something that interests you – I recently started doing some writing for Tanglewood Conservatories. We found each other through a business coach and although I knew next to nothing about conservatory building, I liked them first as people and then fell in love with the wonderful glass structures they build.
Wants your to write about something you want to learn – Paula Hendrickson was the one who mentioned how great it is to learn something when you’re writing for others. She’s right, and agreeing to write about something you want to learn and to get paid for it is nifty.
Fits your life vision – I’ve been working on my life vision again – more about that in another post. Here I mean I want to work with folks who have roughly the same world view I have. Another way to say this is there are certain groups of people I don’t work well with – call it prejudice or decision, but I’ve turned down work on this basis and I’m glad I did.
Ideally is part of a group you can market to – Marketing to your ideal clients will be easier if they make up part of an identifiable group. For example, I’m part of a couple of LinkedIN groups for sales managers because those can be great clients for book ghostwriting. While there aren’t many, if any who build the conservatoires the way Tanglewood does, I may be able to find a way to market to true craftspeople who make high end products.
For contrast and a deeper understanding you may also want to read Freelance Writing Jobs That Wave A Red Flag
How do you define your ideal client?
Write well and often,