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Chapter
3

Find three specific clients

In the last step, you set up your Medium profile. In this step, you’re going to get super specific and identify three dream clients you’d love to work for. 

Now, I won’t have you actually pitch to these clients. Rather, your clients are pitching you. I’ll explain what I mean throughout this step.

These next two steps are heavy on “thinking” and light on “doing.” But these thinking steps are absolutely crucial to nail the “doing” steps. 

This whole process breaks down into four steps:

1. Identify a client.

2. Identify your client’s pain points.

3. Win the hearts of your client’s audience.

4. This positions you as a bridge between the client and their audience.

Here’s why.

My very first freelance client from Medium came to me completely by accident. The CEO, Lane, was having trouble finding readers that converted to his beginner learning platform because he was only getting advanced readers (I didn’t know this at the time.)

Around then, I happened to write an article about the fastest way to learn to code, just for fun. Lane found my article (using methods we’ll discuss in Steps 5, 8, and 9) and emailed me to write more like that for his audience. Why? Because he thought that type of content would do well with his ideal audience, beginner coders.

This approach of writing for my client’s customers worked so well that I repeated it and now find clients come to me constantly. 

This might be a mindscrew! I want to make sure you understand this critical point. 

After you identify your target client in this step, we’re going one layer deeper a la Inception in Step 4. You'll be thinking about the problems that your target client’s customers have. 

What the heck?! A quick explanation of why this convoluted thinking is necessary before I lose you: You’re about to write a post targeting not your client but your client’s audience. They hold the purse strings. It may feel weird that you’re kind of leapfrogging your client, but this is a vital step. 

But because you want your clients to pitch you, you have to do much of this work in the abstract. 

You’re not pitching clients, but you’re writing with an ideal client in mind. You’re going to write an article with one of these three clients in mind, and use that to reel in a client just like them.

You want to create content that’s so compelling your target client reads that piece and says, “Wow, this speaks exactly to the problem I’m having. I need to hire this person to fix it immediately”.

The better you know your dream client — and your dream client’s audience — the easier it'll be to create that content. 

Answer this three-question questionnaire to find your dream client(s)

The great thing about this world is that there is a functionally limitless number of clients who want to hire you for your work, no matter how niche your business is.

The less-great thing is that it can sometimes feel a little overwhelming. How do you find them? How do you attract them?

It’s simple by answering this three-question questionnaire for your dream client. 

1. What do they sell?

Money is key. Your client isn't hiring you purely out of the goodness of their heart. They’re hiring you to make money. So you need to know what their end goal is.

Are they B2B or B2C? What’s their vertical? What languages and markets do they target? How big is their customer base?

Example: I worked with a freelance finance writer. Her ideal target client was a B2C financial product targeting American Gen Z and millennials. 

What does your dream client sell, and how?

Write the answer down in your workbook

2. What problems do they encounter?

Think about your target client and envision what might be wrong with their business.

Perhaps the company wants its blog to get more traffic, but hasn’t hired anyone to write the blog. Maybe your client needs more media mentions, but they don’t have the skill set to do PR. Maybe they’re approaching a funding round, but their website doesn’t look legitimate.

Example: I worked with a data science platform that was having a hard time reaching its target audience. The platform wanted to target data science beginners but had a blog full of advanced tutorials. The platform got a ton of traffic, but not the kind it wanted.

This is the hardest question to answer because this information normally comes after the client contacts you. But to get them to get in touch, you need to basically read their minds. 

Now you try: 

What problems is your dream client having in reaching their audience?

3. How can you help?

The third and final question ties it all together: How can you help? Why are you the ideal person to freelance for this company? This ensures that if a company contacts you, you feel confident enough in your skills to say yes. 

You might be the perfect solution to their problem because of your experience, your knowledge, your passion for a topic, or your hobbies. Especially if you’re at the beginning of your freelance career, those last two can be helpful in proving your worth before you have the experience.

Example: I could write an article for a cat toy shop for two reasons. First, I own two cats and hence know an awful lot about cat toys. Second, I’m a freelance writer with experience in e-commerce, so I can write posts to help them sell toys. 

Your turn. 

How can you help with this client’s problems? What are your specialties?

Identify three specific “clients” you want to target

Using the answers from your questionnaire above, find and write down three specific clients you want to target. 

1. _____________

2. _____________

3. _____________

There are so many businesses in the world today that it’s impossible to go too narrow. Get as specific as possible in defining your client. 

For example, I might answer the questionnaire like this:

  1. What/how does my dream client sell? 

    • My dream client sells something I know about and am interested in. I like cats, data science, productivity tools, helping creators make money, and fintech. 

    • My dream client is B2C SaaS. I prefer speaking to consumers, not other businesses, which is why I want a B2C client. I also think my dream client sells SaaS because I enjoy making content to get people to subscribe monthly, not buy once. 

  2. What problems do they encounter?

    • I could imagine that many of my clients have difficulty making complex things accessible to a lay audience, like in data science and fintech. Other clients may struggle to reach their intended audience or may not get enough traffic.

  3. How can I help?

    • I’m great at making complex things simple. I’m also good at creating thought leadership. 

Outcome: My dream client could be Revolut. Revolut is a Fintech company that’s B2C and B2B SaaS. Revolut has a complex product that must be made simpler to acquire customers. 

Three places you can look for ideal clients 

If you don’t have a client in mind based on answering your client questionnaire, there are a few options to find dream clients.

I recommend WellFound because you can filter based on a few characteristics you selected in the first question. For example, I can select to look for B2C healthcare companies that have raised money.

You’ll have to create a profile, but you can hide it from recruiters if you prefer and use it as a search tool.

You can also use Medium itself. Remember those publications I mentioned? Many CTOs, founders, and Heads of Marketing read on Medium and post their company in their bio. 

Example: Say you’re a freelance designer. You might scroll through UXPlanet’s followers until you find JP Holecka, whose profile currently says he’s the CEO and Founder of POWERSHiFTER, which is a design studio that creates simple and easy-to-use mobile apps, web apps, and websites.

Finally, LinkedIn is always a good place to search for companies. LinkedIn has the added benefit that many employees talk about their problems and experiences there, which can help you fill in Question 2 of the client questionnaire. 

Recap

In this step, you identified three ideal clients you’d love to work for. Next, you’re going to identify their target audience.

It might feel like a lot of setup and identification right now, but don’t worry — we’ll get into the actual process in Step 6 and beyond!

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