The Surprising Question That Leads To The Best Clients
When you work for yourself, you get to choose who you work with 100 percent of the time. Fabulous working relationships are the result of fabulous people — Here’s how to snag em’
Whether you’re a freelance professional looking for new clients, a startup founder in search of loyal customers, or just a regular Joe seeking authentic comradeship, this post is for you.
Finding the right clients (or customers, friends, fans — whatever you want to call your fellow professional people) is like finding the right pair of jeans. They’ve gotta fit just right.
Just like it’s not OK to buy jeans that don’t make your butt look phenomenal (waste of money and space in your closet), it’s definitely not OK to work with people who are just not your people (waste of money and space in your mind).
Here’s The Question (And Answer) To Whether Or Not You Should Work With Someone:
“Would I want to have a drink with this person?”
Do you want to go to happy hour with graphic designer Sandy or not?
If it’s a hard yes, hire her. If it’s a hell no, don’t hire her. If it’s an “I don’t really know,” don’t hire her.
If you’re in it for the long game, it’s gotta be a hell yes. Every client, every time.
Why, you ask?
If you cringe at the thought of throwing a few back with that professional branding expert you just met at a coffee shop, you can’t work with that person. If you don’t feel comfortable having an actual life conversation with someone you’re considering working with — without the mention of scalability and growth tactics — you’re going to hate working with them because you won’t feel free to just be.
And if you can’t just be around Gary the IT nerd or Megan the marketing marvel, you can’t possibly produce the work you are psyched out of your mind about or execute the ideas you know are going to get you closer to having Justin Timberlake come perform at your store opening.
You want to find someone not just willing to be on your team — but someone who is overjoyed to be on your team. Forever and always. Or until the contract is up.
Authenticity in Yourself Results in Authenticity in Your Work Relationships
I believe EVERYONE is entitled to being who they are no matter what corporate office they’re in, what lavish party they’re at or what successful magazine editor or aspiring artist they are conversing with.
I also believe our stomachs are smarter than our heads. If you base decisions off of gut feelings rather than logistics and numbers, you’re going to be a lot happier (and probably a lot richer) with the end result.
Besides, everyone wants to work with someone who adores them. But here’s the kicker — it has to be mutual adoration.
If You’re Thinking…
“But I’m a lot to deal with and I’m afraid of showing people the bitch/scaredy cat I actually am,”…even better.
Own who you are, no matter what.
If you are an especially unique individual, it might seem impossible to find clients who get you.
Why do I know this? Because I like to think of myself as an especially unique individual, which I’ve narrowed down to mean I identify as: 1/3 high maintenance, 1/3 hyper aware of the value I’m able to bring to the table, and 1/3 hell-bent on doing things my way because I can predict outcomes that others cannot.
So, do you want to have a drink with your potential assistant or not? There’s your answer.
Now you’ve got the right question to ask, but how do you find these great clients? Or better put, “How do you ATTRACT these great clients?”
Here’s What You Do
- You present yourself — online and offline — as the person you truly and actually are. Bird feather jacket, hot pink sunglasses and all.
- You straight up ask people you admire (mentors, small business owners, therapists, life coaches, the girl you went to college with who has a thriving organic skincare line) if they want to work with you in some capacity.
- You produce content (articles, videos, podcasts, whatever your medium is) that reflects who you are and what you care about — loudly and proudly.
Doing all of this consistently attracts the types of clients you want to work with.
Here’s What You DON’T Do
- You do not compromise who you are or what you believe in to try and score a hotshot client.
- You do not downplay your skills or talents out of fear you aren’t experienced or smart enough.
- And you do not cheapen your value by lowering your rate, no matter how dreamy the person or work appears.
High Self-Worth = High Net Worth
The other day I emailed someone looking for book summary writers. She had asked my rate for 1 book summary, as well as my rate for a project bundle, ball-parking 100 book summaries in total.
I calculated (1) time spent reading the book, (2) time and energy spent writing a high quality summary, while (3) basing the number off market research + my experience in non-fiction writing.
I gave her a range between $400-$600 per book summary, estimating $50,000 for the entire project. I just finished reading “You Are A Badass At Making Money” the night before and was wearing red high heels the day of this conversation. Nothing was stopping me from going after what I wanted.
She replied back moments later:
“Hi Ashley, We are a small startup that is just getting off the ground, and you wouldn’t have to read the book as we provide reference material. Could you do $25 per summary?”
I had to laugh at this. I had to laugh because requesting $50,000 for a project I knew this company couldn’t afford was as bold as it was unrealistic. But Jen Sincero says if you are confident in your value — if you truly believe you deserve X amount of money in exchange for whatever you’re exchanging it for — you should have no problem at all asking because you know you’re worth it.
So ask I did and now this potential client is going to contact me if/when her business starts making more money so she can pay me accordingly. Furthermore, I now know I want to work with this person simply because we were vibing well with each other — over email, mind you. She responded to my outlandish ask instead of dismissing it (and me) altogether, proving she is MY kind of client.
Simple rule to abide by when pondering over a possible collaboration: If you can’t smile or laugh with your potential hire or new client, you’ve gotta let em’ loose.
On the flip side, if you find yourself waking up excited to present the ideas your subconscious brewed in your sleep to your existing client, hang on to that client like there is no tomorrow. Treat them with respect and tell them how much you appreciate them first for being a cool human and second for being a brilliant wellness company founder.
If you haven’t found your dream clients just yet, you now know all it comes down to is asking yourself whether or not it would be fun to sip Pinot Grigio on the riverfront with your could-be co-writer.
Remember, it can (and will) be difficult and time-consuming finding people as cool or motivated or driven or eccentric as you are. Don’t rush it or settle for subpar clients just because you’re in dire need of work. Be yourself, be consistent and the work — the right work — will find its merry way to you.
Last Words Of Advice
One more thing! Don’t be blinded by the consistency of work promised or the amount of money being offered to you if your gut is telling you the client behind that work and money is shady or egotistical or low-energy. I promise that feeling is fleeting and is never worth the time and effort.
Keep in mind client to contractor relationships should be mutually beneficial. You should be thinking it is a privilege that this person gets to work with me, and they should be thinking it is a privilege that I get to work with this freelancer.
Be you. Be fun. Be free. And watch your dream clients (and dream checks) appear before your dream-chaser eyes.
Thanks for reading!