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Know Your Dream Client & Becoming a Better Creative Expert

Know Your Dream Client

It feels good to get paid. But it feels great to knock the socks off a client – to make them cheer, or cry, or simply smile with this complete satisfaction and confidence in what you created for them.

What doesn’t feel great is if you just hit a wall at every step, you feel like expectations are completely off-base from each other, and in the end, even if they’re happy, you’re just happy to be done.

You want to like your job. And when you work for yourself, there comes a point where you have, in fact, created a job of your own making. You’ve settled down into your routines, settled into the flow of busy times and not-so-busy times, and you aren’t as freaked that you’ll never get another client again (but sure are grateful when you do!)

You want to like your clients. But here’s the thing – liking your clients isn’t about them being better clients, it’s about you being a better creative expert. (click to tweet)

How to be a creative expert

How can you share your offering as a creative expert... if you don’t know yourself?
Before you start listing off all the kind of clients you don’t want – or even dreaming about the ones you do – start with you. What is the work you want to be doing? What are you best at? What is your style and voice? Because the real shift happens from being a “creative-for-hire” to a “creative-with-a-clear-purpose” when you are able to infuse your work, your actions, your content, and your offerings with what you’re best at + what you know about your dream client: their pains, their wants, their personality, their dreams.

How can share your offering to your dream client... if you don’t know them?
Okay, so now imagine your dream client. They may be someone you’ve worked with in the past – or just the kind of person (or project!) you’d like work with in the future. How real can you make them? The more specific you can get, the more you can narrow in on your “people!”, the more “psychic” you’ll feel when you’re creating just for them – and the more enthusiastic approval you’ll get along the way.

When your work exceeds your client’s wildest expectations, it makes you feel like a true creative expert. (click to tweet)

This is a fill-in-the-blank exercise we created for designers, but really, it works for almost anyone working for themselves. Give it a skim before you give it a try. If you feel yourself nodding along, or even shouting a few “yes’s!” as you go, then this script is just for you:

My ideal client is most likely a ___ [ job / profession / business ]______.
They’re about ___ [ age ] ____ old, and are ______ [ personality trait ] _____.
They can also be very _____ [ personality trait ] & [ personality trait ] ________.
They’re stressed about ___________ [ worry / roadblock ] __________.
Let’s call them ____ [ name! maybe a movie character or someone you know ] ___.
They value ___________ [ resource / trait / or skill of yours ] ______________.
But they really love ___________ [ a deeper awesomeness of yours ] _______.
So they trust others who _____ [ do this / are like this ] _____________.
When we work together, they’re happily surprised that I ___ [ did this / helped with this! ] ___.
And together we __________ [ created / built this ] ____________________.
I love that this project added _______ [ kind of style / content ] ____ to my portfolio.
I want more work like ____ [ project type, project type ] ____ for clients like these!

A Little Extra Credit: Imagine you overheard the dream client you “made real” above chatting about you in a coffee shop. You are totally going to eavesdrop on their conversation. Write down two things you would HATE to hear them say – your worst fear. Then write down two things you would LOVE to hear them say – like it makes you blush! Or makes you do a little happy dance by yourself over in your hiding spot, you creeper, you. Then ask yourself: Are the fears as really as bad, or even as “real” as you think? Don’t you think the “loves” are things your friends, clients and peers might be saying about you anyway!? Just some extra food for thought and a little dash of confidence to start doing after your dream clients.

Do you find dream client exercises like this helpful? Then stop what you’re doing and pop on over here because you need to sign up for our Braid Method Branding ECourse! Here we’re narrowing in even more on your dream clients, but even more powerfully, we help you narrow in on articulating what you want – and what you do, so other people know it (and buy it!) too.

Braid Method Branding for Creatives ECourse

The Braid Method Branding ECourse is for creative entrepreneurs who are ready to support themselves financially with their business, create a blog or consistent online presence, and finally turn the work they’re already doing into a digital product, package, or offering for dream customers. This branding ecourse comes with 7 learning modules in a 300+ page digital download, a workbook with 20+ branding exercises and scripts, a quarterly masterclass, and an exclusive Facebook group so you can connect with us and other students.

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12-Aug-2015
Make Work You Love to Attract Dream Clients | Braid Creative

Make Work You Love

Today’s post comes from our Branding for Designers email series. Almost everyone on the Braid team started out as a graphic designer so we have a special place in our hearts for you all. We know your struggles first hand and wanted to create a series just for you. Oh, and if you’d like to get a free eBook on how to brand yourself as a creative expert sign up here. Now on to the post!

If you’ve done exercises from our Braid Ebook for Designers or from our Braid Method Branding ECourse, you know we like to help you shape and share your words. But what about creating and showing your work?

Creative entrepreneurs can show their work in lots of way. Think about the places where you are sharing: your website, portfolio, and case studies, perhaps. Then think about your creative work out there simply speaking for itself – as your clients share with friends and peers, and people experience your work firsthand out “in the world.”

That’s a lot of eyeballs on what you’ve created. And that’s great! But if you were to go to those places and look at your own work with fresh eyeballs, would you see the kind of work you want to do more of? Or would you only see the kinds of projects you never want to do again? You might not feel this black-and-white about it. Typically there are a few projects in there you love, but chances are there might be quite a few more that feel like the “old” you – and you’re ready for some “new.”

Ever heard the expression “like attracts like?” If you want to change the kind of work you’re hired to create, then you’ve gotta start creating and showing the kind of work you want to be making! (click to tweet)

Make work that attracts clients

So let’s say you don’t want to do wedding invitations anymore, you want to do branding for other event planners and wedding professionals. That’s not a huge leap. In fact, it feels pretty logical. But it can feel like a huge hurdle if no one is hiring you for brand design – only invitations.

Or let’s say you’re a web designer. Your bread and butter has been doing small sites for small businesses, but most of them are kind of bland – usually small tech companies. These businesses aren’t inherently bland, but you’ve realized whenever you create sites for makers with a more artisanal style – a baker, a herbalist, a woodworker – that you absolutely love your designs. But how can you get more of that when 75% of the work on your site or in your portfolio is techy-looking sites?

The creative projects you show others, speak volumes about what kind of work your clients can expect from you. And if you keep sharing the stuff you think will get you hired, but doesn’t exactly float your own creative boat, you could be setting yourself up to create a boring, unfulfilling day job of your own making. Except now you have no one to blame but the boss – and that’s you. (click to tweet)

Before you get all blamey, remember – having any creative business that pays your bills is a great problem to have. It actually gives you the confidence (and cash) to keep going and keep creating. The bad part is it doesn’t give you the time – the time to work on some side projects that could start to round out your portfolio and work with the kind of projects you love.

Make work that you want to do

But that’s exactly what you need to do. You need to carve out some time (and usually that’s just some mental headspace and some self-set deadlines and goals) to either create this kind of work for free, for a friend, or for someone who’s paying if they’re exactly the kind of client you want more of.

Get more of that event planning branding on your site, get more of that handmade indie maker sites in your portfolio. Aim for a 50% mix of what has been getting you hired and what you want to start getting hired for by the end of the year. Then aim for showing 80% (if not 100%) of only work you love by the end of two years. Time flies when you’re doing work you love!

Does this post ring true to you? If you’re having trouble making that shift from the type of work you’re currently doing to that oh-so-dreamy work you want to be doing, scoot on over to our Braid Method Branding ECourse. In it, you’ll find exercises that will help you narrow your offerings and adjust your brand messaging so that you can begin to take on the dreamy work that will continue to attract more of the work you love.

Braid Method Branding for Creatives ECourse

The Braid Method Branding ECourse is for creative entrepreneurs who are ready to support themselves financially with their business, create a blog or consistent online presence, and finally turn the work they’re already doing into a digital product, package, or offering for dream customers. This branding ecourse comes with 7 learning modules in a 300+ page digital download, a workbook with 20+ branding exercises and scripts, a quarterly masterclass, and an exclusive Facebook group so you can connect with us and other students.

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Tara here. I know most of you did not dream of starting your own business, just to work with clients that don’t feel like a fit. But I don’t want you to take your clients for granted, either. I want you to love your clients. 

As much as I get fired up to create products for my own business – daydreaming with Kathleen about what’s next for us – I only enjoy those planning-scheming-dreaming moments when they are layered into a healthy schedule of client work. For me, that means lots of chunks of time in my day and week devoted to visioning and writing brand platforms for our clients. 

I recently wrote a post on how Winter is For Working On You. For us that mentality is part of every week – every Friday on our calendar has become a Braid day. But when Monday rolls around, or as the winter hibernation starts to wear off a little –  you stick your head up like that little groundhog that sees spring really is coming this time, and think “ok, who’s going to be my next great client and what kind of client work is going to be filling my calendar?”

What has the doing of the work for our dream clients… done for me?

1. Dream clients give me a steady income. But I’d rephrase that to say, they give me a steady confidence. I could have easily titled this post “What I Can Do For Dream Clients.”  But I wanted to talk to you instead about the confidence having three+ years of dream clients and counting, has done for me and my business.

Braid has never had a dip in our profits since we started, only a steady incline as we’ve built our business. Too much information? I don’t think so. We don’t take for granted that our ability to attract dream clients who pay us for our creative expertise, gives us confidence to always ask for what we’re worth, and only work with our dream clients. So even if we create a product (like our Braid ECourse), or venture into new territory (like our Being Boss podcast) – the confidence to do that, and a lot of the content that made us the creative experts we are – all started with our dream clients.

2.  Dream clients keep me happy-busy. In the moment it may just feel like regular-busy, you know, deadlines and all that. But I have to admit, working purely on a client’s challenge gets me out of my own head. I find when I spend too much time focused inward, I end up scheming on overdrive with all my own business and brand ideas (even we can suffer from an abundance of ideas, so our motto when that happens is “stay on the bus,” but the motto isn’t needed as much when we’re in wildly productive working-mode).

3. Dream clients let me use (and value!) my methodical mind and creative words. In other words, they see me, and trust me – as a creative expert. Ok, so yeah, of course this isn’t just all about what my dream clients can do for me, ha! It feels great to help another creative say what they really mean, sound like an expert and look like they really want to be seen. This gives me purpose, and it gives me momentum to then turn that same vision and brand guidance on ourselves again, when we have to do some self-work on our own business, too. 

It’s definitely a back and forth of building our own business, building our own confidence, and then turning around and giving others the same.

I want these three dream client statements to be true for you, too:
1. My dream clients give me a steady income!
2. My dream clients keep me happy-busy!
3. My dream clients see me as a creative expert!


Some of you may think, ugh, I just need clients, period. And yes, we get that. But then look at those statements above. If you didn’t say “dream,” in front of “client,” and worked with anyone for any project (even if they’re not a fit at all) – forget number two and number three. You could only say number one, “my clients give me a steady income!” and even then, it may not be so steady. You may find your income is based on other factors like the seasonality, word-of-mouth, or just plain luck. 

P.S. What if you really are just starting out and need any client?! What if you’re transitioning from one type of client to a new kind of dream client? You guys might already know about our chalkboard method, but if you don’t, check it out here. It really helped us in those first couple years of building our clients, and keeping a full and consistent roster of not only clients, but dream clients. 

Braid Method Branding for Creatives ECourse

The Braid Method Branding ECourse is for creative entrepreneurs who are ready to supporting themselves financially with their business, create a blog or consistent online presence, and finally turn the work they’re already doing into a digital product, package, or offering for dream customers. This branding ecourse comes with 7 learning modules in a 300+ page digital download, a workbook with 20+ branding exercises and scripts, a quarterly masterclass, and an exclusive Facebook group so you can connect with us and other students.

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