I started my business in PA with several clients that followed me after I left the studio I was working at. That was in September of 2011 and in January of 2012 I moved to Youngstown, OH. So, during that time I was working with my PA clients while trying to establish a new client base in Ohio in preparation for my move. I did a few sessions for some of my husband’s cousins and family friends in the area to get the ball rolling. I would share those sessions on Facebook, those clients would post them on their “walls” and all of their friends would see. Facebook was huge for me!
There was one thing in particular I did that I want to share with you. I didn’t know enough at the time to realize how it was going to grow my business. Had I known, I would have been more intentional about it and my client base growth would have undoubtedly been faster and stronger. Knowledge is everything, people.
For Christmas of 2011 I knew I wanted to do Christmas Mini sessions in the Youngstown area to gain some exposure, but I had no studio space, no house yet, nothing. The only thing I could think of was to ask someone to host my Christmas mini sessions in their home, and in return I think I gave them a free Christmas mini and maybe some prints, I can’t remember specifically.
The person who ended up hosting for me found out about this opportunity through Rocky’s cousin who had posted about it on Facebook – I had never met her before, she just happened to have an empty room in her house and she wanted a session with me. This person turned out to be my ideal client.
My ideal client mostly consists of a.) someone who can afford to pay me. b.) someone who values my work and my time. and c.) someone who lives in an area with more people they know who can a.) afford to pay me and b.) will value my work and my time.
Every single family that attended our Christmas Mini day was a friend of hers that she invited. I didn’t ask her to invite anyone (that was me not knowing and therefore unable to be proactive) – but she had motivation to do so. 1. It was her house, she probably preferred to know who was entering it. 2. She wanted to make it a good experience for me, because she knew I would reward her for it and give her more opportunities to earn free sessions.
Here’s the breakdown of what essentially happened so you can do it on purpose and better than I did!
1. Know who your ideal client is. Where do they live? How do they live? What is the make up of their family? Who are their friends? Where do they spend their time? What are their needs and wants? How will they interact with you?
2. Go find one. You probably already know one.
3. Offer her something in exchange for a gateway into her sphere, which will undoubtedly contain more people like her.
It only takes one ideal client to lead you to more. And those clients will lead to to even more clients and so on. Something else to keep in mind when you’re starting to build your client base is that your client base will likely, and hopefully change. As your work gets better, as you’re able to offer better service and product, as you grow in your knowledge and skill, demand for you will be higher, your prices will start to reflect that and a shift in client base will be required to sustain your growth. You will lose clients. It’s scary and we hate it and we feel bad when we raise our prices, but it’s necessary and it’s business. I don’t work for a single client today that I worked for those 5-6 years ago – but those clients brought me to the clients, who brought me to the clients, who brought me to many of the clients that I work for today. It’s a gradual shift and fade process that is actually amazing when you look back on it 6 years later – seeing the effects of the decisions you made and how those decisions propelled you into the future.
There are so many “gateways” into your ideal client sphere. Be proactive! You can’t build a business by waiting for the business to come to you. Get in touch with us here at the Flourish Academy – we’d love to point you in the right direction and give you the tools and knowledge you need to keep you moving forward with purpose and intention.
Thank you for this post! This is a timely example for me as I’m currently preparing for my first shoots. I love the idea of a “home shoot” just like direct marketers would do “home shows.” I’m going to use this!