How to Define Your Ideal Client as a Photographer - Chelsy Weisz

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Hello! I' wedding photographer and educator in western North Dakota.  I am so thrilled to see you here on the blog!  Grab some coffee and dig into some wedding planning tips, business hacks, our farmhouse renovations, as well as  some behind the scenes at #chelsywieszphotography

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How to Define Your Ideal Client as a Photographer

We have all heard over and over in business that we need to know who our ideal client is.  Your ideal client is someone who vibes with your tribe. It’s one of those topics that we say yeah, yeah I know I should do that I kinda have it figured out but not really.  Or you are super afraid to get very specific on who you are looking to serve because the idea of leaving someone or some money out makes you sweat.  I am right there with ya!  It took me entirely way too long to actually sit down and grind out the nitty details on who my ideal client was.  If you are listening to this with a vague idea of who your ideal client is I’m here to help ya out! So grab a cup of coffee with extra cream and let’s break down those barriers that have held you back in the past and help you really define who your ideal client is so you can begin attracting clients fast. 

Identifying your ideal client, your soulmate client, or your ideal client avatar whatever you want to call them is one of the most important things you will do in your business.  Here is why clarity inspires action, confusion breeds inaction.  When you get really clear on who your ideal client is, your ideal client will hire you because you are so clear and ceratin in your message that it seems as if you are speaking directly to them instead of screaming to everyone.  This instantly builds the know like, trust factor. 

So let’s start with the boundaries that been holding you back on clearly defining who your ideal client is? 

#1 Having the “I serve everyone” mentality 

This is by far the biggest roadblock most of us come up against when we start the process of narrowing in on who our ideal client is. While you might have the ability to serve everyone who needs a photo taken of something in reality it’s unlikely that you will do so and it’s unlikely that your message will translate to everyone. The point about defining an ideal client isn’t about limiting your potential sales, it’s about targeting those who will see the most benefit and are willing and ready to make a purchase.  

There are two steps in breaking through this barrier.  First, write down the top 3 people who would most benefit from your business. Then write down 3 types of people who are the least likely to use or buy your service or product. That way you have a starting off point and can start seeing the light.

So here are some examples of why someone might not hire you as their photographer.  Maybe you live in a different location.  I probably am not the best choice as a wedding photographer for a couple who live in Austin Texas.  You see I live in North Dakota, and as wonderful as texas sounds in the middle of January I don’t really want to constantly be on a plane flying back and fort missing out on time I could spend with my family on Friday nights or church on Sunday mornings. 

Budget might be another variable that keeps someone from hiring you.  Someone who has a higher budget might look at a lower-priced photographer and though they light their photos they might wonder whats the catch why are they priced so low maybe they aren’t as great of a photographer as I want.  Or you could be out of someone’s price point, and that’s okay too. 

The next barrier you may come up against when fining your ideal client is the 

#2 I’m leaving someone out mentality

Let’s be honest it sucked to not get picked to play kickball on the playground.  Knowing your leaving someone else out stinks too, so does the thought of leaving money on the table by not trying to get everyone to work with you.  The reality is that people outside your ideal client profile can and still be able to reach you.  

Here is the thing you are not actually putting restrictions on how can and can’t hire you when you define your ideal client you are simply defining the people who are most in need of your services. 

what you need on your photography website

#3 I can’t choose just one mentality. 

While this one is similar to the first barrier its a little different it’s based on your indecision and fear.  I mean there are probably some questions or statements running through your head like: What if I change my mind, what if I pick the wrong ideal client What if someone outside my ideal client profile wants to work with me? What if more then one type of client already wants to work with me. 

Let’s break down the answers to those questions right quick.  

First up What if I change my mind?

Dude totally fine!  You are allowed to change your mind, all that means is you are just pivoting, not starting over from scratch! Pivot along my friend! 

What happens if I pick the wrong one?

Guess what it happens, and you will learn from it.  You get to take the good bits, and leave the bad bits, and pivot to something new. 

What if someone outside my ideal client profile wants to work with me?

Maybe you are marketing to city brides, and a bride having a sunflower country wedding loves your work and wants you to drive to the middle of nowhere and she is willing to pay your travel fees. Sweet! If you are comfortable with working with them do it!  You are the CEO you make the rules.  You also get to decide if you want to feature that country wedding in your profile, or stick with your ballrooms and cityscapes! 

What if I really have two different clients I want to work with?  

Try digging in a bit more and see if you can find the common thread tying the two together.  Something that connects them and helps you articulate who your ideal client is.  This could be a certain style, or budget, maybe even lifestyle or neighborhood. 

If you really do have two different ideal clients make sure you clearly define both. 

Uber is an excellent example of having and needing two very different clients.  Uber’s two clients are drivers and those looking for a ride. Their drivers are looking for flexibility and hoping to make more money then they could otherwise. Those who are looking for a ride want a fuss-free experience that gets them from point A to B. 

Now that we have broken through these barriers it’s time to start defining your ideal client, so you can start attracting them. If we want to get really clear on who our ideal client is, so we can get them to hire us as photographers, we have to understand 4 things about them. 

The first step is to figure out basic demographic 

This means figuring out male or female, age, marital status, where they live, yearly income. This is important for photographers.  A newborn photographer is probably going to be marketing to new and expectant moms, not high school senior boys. While that seems like a no brainer, its important to actually write these things down.  I created a worksheet that will walk you through this process we are covering here in the podcast, plus includes a few questions that will help you dive a little deeper into understanding your ideal client. 

Challenges and results 

This is where you start to dig into the heart of your ideal client. Let’s stick with the newborn photographer example. A new mom feels like the days are long but the years are short.  She wants the good parts to slow down and let her savor it. But it would totally be okay if this baby would start sleeping through the night. A newborn photographer who understands this is able to use marketing that speaks to this feeling of wanting to freeze these sweet little moments because as all of us parents know they grow up too fast, those little toothless grins and chubby baby cheeks are replaced with smiles that have missing teeth, and visits from the tooth fairy.  

Identify their sources of information 

The next step is to identify where your ideal client is getting their information You want to know what they are reading, who they are listening to, and where they are hanging out on social media. This helps you to know what and who is influencing them.  It also lets you know where you should be showing up on social media to find more ideal clients. 

 monetary investment

The final step is to identify the monetary investment they need to make.  Your ideal client WILL be able to pay the full price for your services.  It’s your job to value your self and your time as well as to determine your packaging and pricing options with clarity and certainty so you can attract the right people!

There you have it friends the three things that might hold you back, and the 4 areas of information you need to define in order to get a tack sharp photo of who your ideal client is. Remember you can head to the show notes below or to chelsyweisz.com/ideal-client to get a copy of the ideal client worksheet that walks you through these 4 areas. 

I'm chelsy

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I'm Chelsy a small town farmwife from western North Dakota. I built an elegant wedding photography business in the middle of nowhere with nothing but a camera and a google search bar. When my husband's one heart surgery turned in to a three-year-long battle, it turned everything on its head. I vowed to help other small business owners put systems into place to ensure the business can still run even if you have to step away.

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