Finding Your Client Alter Ego

Let’s face it, finding clients is a drag. Finding the right client is a real drag, and finding the right client, who has money, wants to work with you and is a great person, is the dream of every freelance designer.

When a potential client comes to your portfolio, the very first thing they see is your brand, or to put it another way, YOU. Your portfolio can, to all extents and purposes be empty, but if you present yourself in the right light you can sell yourself instead.

Here’s a trade secret. Clients don’t hire you because your “the shit”. They hire you because you’re “the shit”, and great to work with. No-one wants to work with an ass.

Most times you know straight away if you like someone. This isn’t always the case, some of us are growers, but most times you’ll know. We’re all different, and we can be thankful for that. You and I might have a few things in common, for example, we’re both designers. We’re both either freelance or have an interest in the freelance life. And we’re both human (or thereabouts). But that doesn’t necessarily mean that, if we met we’d get on (it doesn’t mean that we wouldn’t either.) There are so many little things that make each one of us who we are.

I’m what the Spanish refer to as “especial”. No, it’s not what you think… It means I’m strong-minded; that I have opinions and I expect a lot of others. Essentially it means I can be a pain in the ass, (way to sell myself) but I hope that’s never transmitted to my clients. These traits can carry negative connotations, of course that depends on who I’m dealing with at the time.

For instance, strong-minded can be a by-word for stubborn. This can be a blessing or a curse depending on who you’re working with. Good clients want you to know what you’re doing. They want you to have an opinion. They need to feel comfortable leaving decisions in your hands. On the other hand, less experienced clients can be more of a challenge. They want to take control. They want to make decisions they have no experience in. This is where a person’s personality can directly affect the outcome of a project and future client relationship.

The trick is to be aware of what type of person you are and, more importantly, to be willing to adapt your character to whatever context you happen to find yourself in. Although I have quite well-defined opinions on most things, I’m also willing to bend if someone convinces me otherwise. If I bring up a possible issue with a project and someone can give me a convincing counter-argument, then fair enough. I’m not stubborn enough to argue for the sake of arguing… although no-one can convince me that I should like iOS7.

Regardless of your personality there will always be that perfect client with whom you’re utterly simpatico. Then, again, there’ll always be that client who has all the personality of a cricket bat and all the compassion of a lamp post. It’s only over time that you’ll learn to find the people that compliment your personality and help make a project a success. Search out these clients, make it your mission to only work with these types of people. You’ll be all the happier for it.

I struggle when meeting new people but when it comes to client relationships I feel quite comfortable, especially when I know that there’s a feeling of complicity. Hell, I can even be jovial! When a good client relationship is formed you should do everything in your power to nourish that relationship, why?

A few reasons:

  • A higher chance of repeat work
  • A higher possibility of referrals
  • It’s easier to market to happy clients than it is to capture new ones
  • Possibly the most important reason, it’s incredibly satisfying
Match your Personality to that of a Great Client

The easiest way to begin the search for the perfect client is to match your portfolio to your personality. Don’t be afraid to let the you shine through in your portfolio.

If you’re a funny, lighthearted, always-look-on-the-bright-side kind of person (damn you), then let it show in the design and copy of your portfolio. You will tend to attract like-minded clients. If, on the other hand, you’re more serious and look at everything with a little more skepticism, then let that shine through in your portfolio. These can also be positive traits.


Image Credit: Andre Gehrmann

You know why you should do this? Because your client will find out anyway. Try and be honest from the outset and things will be a lot easier. Remember what you’re mum used to say: “there’s someone for everyone.” It’s the same with clients. Once you realise who your best match is, hang onto them for dear life. Make an effort to work with the same client type in the future. I don’t mean the type of work they provide, but the type of relationship you have with them. It’s gold. Work towards finding your perfect client personality match. But remember. To do this, you need to look at yourself first.

It’s not easy. It’s not impossible either.

Good luck.

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