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Chapter
1

Research your niche to identify your ideal client

Finding the right clients for your business is essential. Before you begin sourcing freelance opportunities, you need to understand who you’re looking for. After all, you don’t want to spend your time working with clients you don’t like! You and your business will suffer if you are just working for anyone. Your goal is to figure out your ideal client and target them. You may not be able to land your ideal client immediately, and this is completely normal, but the first step is to understand who they are.

1. Start by identifying your ideal client

First, identify who you want to work with, the type of work you want to do, and your values. Ask yourself these questions:

  • What are your personal values? It’s important to first consider what you care about. You’re not looking for a soulmate in a client, but you need to consider where you would draw an ethical line. For example, if you don’t enjoy drinking alcohol, maybe you don’t want to work with bourbon brands. 

  • Who do you like working with? Consider the collaborators you’ve worked with before. What personality traits and qualities did they have? What made working with them enjoyable?

  • Who do you not want to work with? Likewise, what types of clients do you want to stay away from? For example, if you’re an environmentalist, would you be comfortable working with a business that is destroying the rainforest? You may not want to work with a company opposed to your values.

  • Does location matter to you? Do you prefer working with clients in your country or are you okay with international clients? Do you feel confident handling this from an invoicing and taxes perspective? Do you want to work with clients in your time zone or local to you?

  • How do you like working? Do you want to work on your own, or are you okay meeting up with clients regularly? Do you prefer short-term projects completed quickly or long-term projects that take months?

2. Now, research the market and your niche

You don’t need to niche down immediately. But you must understand if there’s a demand in that industry for the type of work you do.

Let’s say your ideal client is a healthcare company. You need to figure out what demand exists for freelancers in this niche. Let’s face it: it doesn’t matter how much passion or knowledge you have for a niche. If there’s no market for it, you’re not going to make money.

Start with some online searches to see how healthcare companies collaborate with freelancers. Try Googling things like “healthcare” + “freelance.” What kinds of freelance opportunities are coming up? If you’re seeing lots of job postings and opportunities, it’s a sign that there’s a lot of demand in that niche for your services.

Let’s take for example two different searches: one for healthcare writers, and another for theme park writers. Both come up with results that show companies looking for writers, but the healthcare niche search results show way more opportunities. 

That’s an indicator that there are fewer opportunities available for theme park writers. If you wanted to write about theme parks you probably could — but you would still need to look for work elsewhere.

If you want to be a freelance healthcare writer, continue searching variations like:

  • Healthcare writer

  • Healthcare writing jobs

  • Healthcare “write for us”

  • Healthcare freelance writer

Run a similar search on LinkedIn. Look for “healthcare” AND “freelance” or “healthcare freelance writer.” Are there other freelance writers in this industry? It’s a good thing if there are — that means there are freelancers who are finding work in this niche. Use them to find potential clients. Give them a follow, and look at what brands they’re working with. Are there lots of freelance jobs? What kind of freelance work is in demand (for example, are they looking for blog writers, or people who can write technical content)?

As you research, remember this: there is no fool-proof industry or one that’s the most profitable. You don’t have to work in any one industry, and you can always work in multiple industries. Your interests and skills will change over time.

3. Embrace a mindset of abundance

As we start looking for clients as freelancers, it’s easy to feel frustrated and daunted. Finding freelance clients takes time, and you know there are a lot of other freelancers looking for work too. One trap that many freelancers fall into is a scarcity mindset — the feeling of not having enough of something, like work, money, or time.

A scarcity mindset will tell you that you must take on any work you can find. What if I never find work again? Here’s an example of that in action:

Kathy is a freelance graphic designer. She says yes to every opportunity — even ones she’s not interested in — because she’s afraid that another offer won’t come in the future. Kathy overschedules herself and commits to work that doesn’t match her values or rates. Kathy quickly becomes burned out.

Compare that with a mindset of abundance:

Chris is a freelance graphic designer. She knows what type of work she wants, and what she’s comfortable turning down. She doesn’t take on every opportunity that comes her way. Since she’s not bogged down with too much work, she has a healthier work-life balance and is able to complete high-quality projects ahead of her deadlines.

Who would you rather be? As we work our way through this playbook, keep this important principle in mind: you don’t have to say yes to everything. No is the most powerful word you can say.

Record your efforts in a rejection tracker

As you reach out to potential clients, it’s easy to lose track of who you’ve contacted and when. That’s why you need to record your efforts in your rejection tracker. A rejection tracker may sound harsh, but it’s really not! It’s a spreadsheet designed to organize your outreach efforts so you can review your progress and follow up when needed. 

This is a celebration of every step you’ve taken so far. You should be proud of every effort you’ve made, even if they don’t all pay off. 

Aim to add five attempts to your tracker every week. That can include every time you’ve responded to a job posting, commented on someone’s post, or whatever! The point is to track your efforts so you understand where your time is best spent, and where you need to follow up in the future.

Recap

What did we learn?

  • Analyze your industry and the market using simple search tips

  • Using your niche to determine who you want to work with

  • Thinking abundantly can change your outlook on finding jobs

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