When I first started my writing business back in 2006 I didn’t think about the kind of clients I wanted to attract. If they paid me, then they were great clients! I wouldn’t have thought it possible to turn away ANY client. These were the dark days of the Great Recession and I needed money to pay for my child’s daycare, gas, Constant Contact e-newsletter service, Meetup, printer ink, paper, stamps, etc. After spending a lot of time in networking groups, I attracted a lot of business writing clients who needed me to write up their brochures (remember those?), websites and blogs. At this time, I was also writing feature articles for IncTechnology.com and Wake Living, as well as book reviews for The Pedestal Magazine.
As the years passed and the Great Recession faded like an early morning dream, I started narrowing my focus even more by not taking any more business writing clients and solely focusing on my book coaching, workshops, VIP (my correspondence course) clients and book editing business. I did a great job with that focus and have now attracted the right clients for me—these are folks who are writing fiction, memoir and poetry. I filter out the folks who need an editor NOW! because they failed to do the timely work on their end. One of my client-friends told me (she’s also an editor), “I don’t want to invite unnecessary stress into my life.” I’ve discovered that clients who need my services yesterday will end up being the worst CLIENTS EVER.
If you want to be my worst editing client EVER here are some tips:
- Say in your initial email that I must Google you.
- Demand that I give you references from former clients even before you tell me about your project.
- Tell me your book must be completely published a month from now.
- Don’t pay the deposit, nor sign the contract, but demand that I do work for you and be available for all of your requested phone chats.
- Email me five times a day asking if your writing is good.
3 Ways to Find Your Best Client
In the ten-plus years I’ve edited books for writers and have served as their writing coach, my best clients all have certain traits in common: they like to read and understand that a good editor will make their book better and know that it’s a collaborative relationship; not a combative, vendor/client relationship feeling like they “win” if they catch a typo I didn’t catch.
I’ve also seen a pattern of college-educated lifelong learners, who healthy foods, practice yoga and recycle without fail. They also believe they can make a difference in the world. With this knowledge and insight, I spend most of my time networking and facilitating writing workshops with individuals active in the North Carolina Writers’ Network, Toastmasters and women’s networking groups, who are seekers yearning to publish their books.
How do I have such a grasp on who is buying my services? A lot of it is trial/error and experience, but I’ve narrowed it down to three tips:
- Select one person out of all of your clients and make sure your services/programs speak to that one person. I’ve found that serious writers will like that I ask for 20 pages which I’ll edit for them for $150—this fee then gets credited to their larger editing fee. Many people who consider writing a hobby or who want to save money never reply back to me after I tell them this information email since they’re not ready to make this investment. It really separates day dreamers from the serious people.
- What does your client want? Does she want to be published or does she want to write for herself? As an editor, I want clients who want their books published and who value editing as a way to make the best impression for a future agent or editor—I don’t want editing clients who want the cheapest editor or who don’t value what an editor can do.
- Where does my client hang out? My clients like to read, so I meet many of them through my book club that I created in 2008, Wonderland Book Club, Toastmasters, the NC Writers’ Network where I serve on the board and through several networking groups around town.
Now I have my ideal client in my head it’s a lot easier to say no to groups or functions where my ideal client wouldn’t hang out—for instance, most of my clients wouldn’t be found at a conservative Rotary club.
How do you find your clients? What has worked for you?
Enjoy this 13-minute video presentation about How I Find My Clients—Thank you so much, Dave Baldwin!