You may have heard the term ideal client avatar, but when you started your business you didn’t give it much thought. But in your quest to live the writer’s life, you missed something really big.
Freelancing from home certainly has perks. You have the freedom to choose your hours. Your commute is from your bed to the coffee pot in the morning. Work attire is whatever you slept in the night before.
You can call in sick without feeling guilty.
Also, you’re in control of whom you work with and the projects you work on.
However, in the beginning, and certainly throughout your freelance career, you’ll likely take projects that are with clients you’d rather pass on. Especially in the beginning, when you need whatever clients you can find to survive.
Many people say don’t take shitty writing jobs, and I agree to a certain extent. But when you have bills to pay, you need clients.
However, don’t stay in that cycle of poverty taking on the wrong client just to keep your lights on. At one time, I was stuck putting in hours of work writing content at a horrible rate because I didn’t define my ideal avatar.
I couldn’t find the time to get new clients because I was struggling to keep my head above the water. And it wasn’t because I didn’t have time management skills. Make the time to look for gigs in your niche that pay better.
Many freelance writers struggle to find their ideal clients. That’s because they think they know who their perfect customer avatar is, but they aren’t sure.
Hello, been there and done that! Not proud. I wasted a lot of time until I learned that you really need to nail down your customer avatar or buyer persona to rake in the big bucks.
What is an Ideal Client Avatar?
An ideal customer avatar is an extremely detailed representation of your ideal buyer persona or customer profile. It helps you speak directly to that client and turn him or her into a raving fan who feels like they are finally understood. Creating a client avatar also allows you to develop products that specifically address their pain points and solve their problems.
It’s critical to be as detailed as possible because the better you know your customer, the easier it is to sell to them. You should know them better than they know themselves.
Why Defining Your Ideal Client Avatar is Important
To identify your ideal client, you need to have some things set in your business. Each business has a unique set of core values, vision, and personality. Defining those things is vital.
Plus, you at least need to have a product or an idea for a product or service. In our case, you’re selling a service, and that’s content for your clients.
But this applies to every business. So, if you’ve done your research and settled on a product or service that people want beyond your writing, that’s great too. It could be a course, eBook, or anything.
However, attracting the right customer or client is more than just creating a narrative to sell your product or service. It’s about crafting a story centered on your customers first. Your offerings support the characters in the narrative and provide them the solution to their problem or pain point.
Use your client’s motivations to develop your story and strategy.
I took a class that Copyblogger partnered with U.C. Davis to teach about content marketing strategy, and Brian Clark talked about the customer buying journey.
I’m sure you’ve heard that you need to understand your ideal client avatar inside and out. But it’s even deeper than that. It’s about empathy and not merely understanding their pain points but the emotions attached to them.
What are the hopes and fears associated with your ideal client avatar’s problems? It’s when you connect those emotions to your product or service that the real magic happens. To them, it’s like you read their mind, and that will have your offerings selling like snow cones in the desert.
So, why is all of this important, and why do you need an avatar? Because knowing your perfect client intimately allows you to create solutions that truly help them.
Defining who you’re selling to helps you answer the important questions as they relate to your products such as:
- What story should your content marketing tell to your audience?
- Where does your ideal client avatar hang out so you can show up in front of them when they need your solution the most?
- What tone and vocabulary should you be using that connects with them?
- What types of advertising will get through to your client?
It’s also critical to consider the various phases of the buying process. While you have one avatar, there are several different steps in your sales funnel. You should reference these phases when creating new products.
You must know your target buyer so that you can connect on the correct social channels, identify their pain points, and solve their problems.
Can You Have More than One Ideal Client Avatar?
So, the next question you have is, what if I have more than one avatar? Most businesses, including writing businesses, do have multiple avatars. Issues arise when you have twenty, thirty, or even more avatars because then you’re trying to cast your net too wide, and you don’t resonate with anyone.
But in the beginning, it’s best to stick with one so that you don’t find it difficult to focus your marketing efforts. Diving deeper into one audience at first is better than casting your net too wide.
How to Define Your Ideal Client Avatar
I’ve designed a handy customer avatar worksheet to help you flesh out your avatar. It’s pretty self-explanatory, but we’ll talk a little here about how to identify your perfect writing client.
Defining your perfect avatar is about understanding his or her fears and motivations deeply. What do they like to do? Where do they hang out online?
Having a worksheet made creating my ideal client avatar much easier than my previous attempts at defining that person. It walks you step by step through each category and helps you reach that ah-ha moment when you finally get it.
Before you can go on a scavenger hunt for your ideal client, you want to identify what makes them your perfect client. How do you relate to them?
Is it a topic, project type, or subject matter that appeals to you? Do you prefer certain communication styles like writing or video? Is the industry they work in?
Are you looking for someone who is detail-oriented or someone who lets you manage the details? Perhaps you want a client who gives you a lot of detail to write your articles or one that gives you a general topic and lets you run with it.
Many people view their ideal client as someone who provides them with consistent work that pays well. That’s certainly a bonus. However, if you don’t enjoy the work, earning an income doing those projects may be dull or stressful. They won’t be an ideal client.
Get Real Specific
All these details are great, but we need to get more specific. REAL specific.
Write these down on your worksheet.
- Where they live
- Marital status
- How much income they make
Where do they live? What’s their occupation? What level of education do they have? Include how much income they make. Talk about their spouse, kids, etc.
What hobbies do they have? What magazines do they read? Do they have favorite podcasts? Do they follow specific blogs? Where do they get their inspiration and ideas? Do they look on the internet, in magazines, ask friends, etc.?
Get to know your customer avatar intimately. The better you know them, the easier it is to identify their problems and create solutions for them.
Next, write down their favorite books and magazines. If there’s anything else you think of in connection with these categories, add it to your worksheet. The more detail, the better you understand your avatar.
The Psychology Behind Their Behavior
The next section of the worksheet is for recording your avatar’s pain points and challenges. It’s about the psychology around why they do the things they do.
This area is where most businesses fail because they don’t dig enough and connect with the emotions of the people they want to sell to. There are several elements of these psychological aspects that help you figure out what makes your avatar tick.
Their values help you create a content marketing strategy that speaks directly to them and resonates with them. If you have similar values, that makes you more relatable and something that will attract your true tribe.
Write down their goals and for bonus points, detail the challenges that keep them from reaching their goals.
What are the challenges they face that make it hard to achieve their goals? What are their pain points?
How do they usually achieve their goals?
When you talk about helping your client achieve their goals, you don’t want to be generic. For example, saying that your product will help you achieve your goals isn’t specific enough. But saying, our eBook will help you set up your freelance writing business quickly and effortlessly is specific.
Maybe they want to work from home but are too overwhelmed with information overload, or they don’t have any experience.
Now think about how your avatar addresses those challenges. Successful people formulate a plan, so the challenges don’t catch them off guard, and they know how to overcome them.
Many people seek education or training to fill in the gaps and accelerate the process.
How does your avatar learn best? Do they like learning online, in a traditional classroom, or both.
Lastly, what are their buying preferences? Some people don’t like going into actual stores and do all their shopping online. Others like using a phone to buy things.
Most importantly, how is your product the solution that gets them from point A to point B while addressing their pain points.
Your Buyer’s Concerns
All buyers have concerns. Think of the last time you bought something. What were you worried about? Was it the cost? Or did you worry if it would work?
People don’t want to be fleeced and look stupid. They need social proof that it works, and even a money-back guarantee quells some of these fears.
Where Does Your Ideal Client Hang Out?
The next step is to explore where your ideal client may hang out. Do they participate in industry forums? Are they in your local networking group? Find out where they hang out and make yourself a part of their world.
Join the same groups that your ideal customer avatar would so you can gain more insight into their problems and challenges.
For example, if your ideal client is a small business blogger interested in parenting and child-related topics, then you may network on small business blogging sites or parenting sites.
If your ideal client is newbie writers, hang out in Facebook groups for new and aspiring writers. This part was something I really struggled with.
What I realized was that the old me three years ago was my ideal client or customer—the girl who desperately wanted to work from home as a writer. However, I didn’t quite understand until I went into some of the groups I hung out in heavily when I first started.
I noticed that I had advanced and could help the new people in the group. As someone who was further along the path, I could provide help and guidance to new writers, the same way more experienced people helped me in the beginning.
Check out the people who are hanging out in these Facebook groups or active on Pinterest or LinkedIn. Connect with them.
Introduce yourself. Perhaps you already know who your ideal client is. Maybe you love the products a company offers; you like their personality and would love to write for them. Then, by all means, hold out your virtual hand and introduce yourself.
Let them know you admire their work. Contact someone in the company and tell them what you do and offer your services. Consider offering a project on spec.
I don’t usually recommend working for free, but there are instances where a spec project for a testimonial is a great trade when you’re first starting.
That way, they get to know you and the fantastic freelance work you do, and there’s no risk to them.
Don’t be afraid to ask for an introduction. If you know people who know people, tell them who your ideal client is and ask for referrals and introductions.
Use Your Analytics for More Insight
I realize in the beginning that this isn’t possible because there simply isn’t any data, and I was frustrated when I started because analytics weren’t helpful at all.
But over time, you gain some incredible insight looking at your analytics. I’ll use my blog as an example. When I started looking at my top pages that people clicked on, I was shocked to find my ghostwriting article was my top page, and my article on free courses for bloggers was second.
It wasn’t what I was expecting, but it helps you create more content that draws in your ideal client avatar.
Finding your ideal client can seem daunting at first. That’s where the avatar worksheet comes in. Filling it out familiarizes you with them and makes it easier to create products to solve their problems.
When your product resonates with your client, you’ll see a massive increase in your cash flow versus when you were guessing what they wanted.
And remember that there is a psychology behind buying as people use their emotions when they make a purchase decision and then justify it with logic. It helps you combat all their what-ifs and buts about your product or service.
When you get to know your perfect client intimately, you can communicate with them and draw them in and help them easier. You’re speaking to that one person and writing your newsletters and social media posts directly to them.
By identifying that one ideal client avatar, your communication becomes clearer, and you find your true tribe.
Seek your ideal customer avatar online and off. Ask for introductions and referrals. Connect with them, and don’t be shy. Your ideal client may be looking for their perfect freelancer – YOU!