Seattle photographer, Neyssa Lee, looking at her Sony mirrorless camera

Mistakes to Avoid When Creating Your Ideal Client Avatar

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I am Neyssa Lee a Seattle area photographer, mom of 6, planning obsessed, and who help you see the beauty, love and joy, in your own family’s chaos. I also use my super power of time management to help fellow photographers take control of their businesses. Learn more by heading to my ABOUT ME page.

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Seattle photographer, Neyssa Lee, looking at her Sony mirrorless camera

Creating a clear picture of your ideal client is crucial for the success of your photography business. When you first began your business, it was likely you took on any type of work. You simply wanted to take photos. However, as you grow your business, narrowing down what you offer along with who you offer it to is important.

I do not mean you only allow certain people to hire you as a photographer. You are not the photographer for everyone, just like I’m not the photographer for everyone. That is okay. No one can serve everyone. With that simple realization, you can begin to focus on who you can best serve.

What is an Ideal Client Avatar?

Your ideal client avatar (ICA) represents the perfect customer for your services, and understanding their needs and preferences can help you tailor your marketing strategies and offerings to attract and serve them effectively. You could also call ICA your dream client. Who do you love working with, that loves working with you?

By defining your ICA you are able to begin focusing your marketing and branding on attracting and serving only those clients. Instead of screaming to the masses, you’re speaking to a specific client. While this can feel scary, it’s vital for business growth.

The most famous example of the brand Anthropologie and their succinct definition of their ICA. You can likely search and read about this one woman and everything about her.

I would say, though, that this example leads photographers to try to emulate the brand with their business. Photographers often make common mistakes when defining their dream clients. Confession, I was guilty of all of these things. When I adjusted, my business growth was exponential, and the clients I began attracting were all dream clients.

Let’s explore these mistakes and discuss how to avoid them, ensuring that your photography business thrives with your ideal clients. Stick around to the end, where I will share a few steps to get you started on the right path to defining your ideal client.

Don’t Assume Income Alone Determines Your Ideal Client

While considering your ideal client’s financial ability to invest in your photography services is important, don’t make the mistake of assuming income as the sole determining factor. Instead, delve deeper into their values, interests, and lifestyle choices. By understanding the psychographics of your ideal client, such as their motivations, passions, and what they value in photography, you can establish a stronger connection and offer a more personalized experience.

I have had amazing clients who work in tech, and ones who are both teachers. It wasn’t how much money they made that determined they were a fit for my business, but that they valued photography and their family. If I were to think that teachers didn’t make enough to purchase my services, I would’ve missed out on some amazing clients.

Photo of Neyssa Lee who offers tips on defining your ideal client avatar

Avoid Getting Stuck on a Name.

Assigning a name to your ideal client can be helpful in visualizing and humanizing them. However, don’t let this name restrict your thinking or exclude potential clients who don’t fit that specific label. Remember, your ICA represents a broader group of people with similar characteristics and preferences. Focus on the overarching qualities and traits of your dream clients instead of fixating on a single name. Stay open-minded and be willing to adapt your approach to accommodate a diverse range of potential clients.

Recognize You Are Not Your Own Ideal Client

Although it’s natural to be drawn to clients who share your interests and aesthetic preferences, assuming you are your own ideal client can limit your business growth. If you perceive yourself as the ICA, you may fear raising your prices, assuming your ideal client won’t be able to afford them. Remember, while you may connect and relate to your ICA, you are not your own client. Separate your personal preferences from your business decisions, and understand that there may be clients who value your unique artistic perspective and are willing to invest more in your services.

Avoid Assuming Your Friends Are Your Ideal Clients

Not only are you, not your dream client, but neither are your friends.

While your friends may appreciate and support your work, assuming they automatically fit your ideal client profile can hinder your business’s growth potential.

There is a difference between being your cheerleader and your dream client. Often the lines get blurry. I have great friends who will spread the word about my business. However, just because we are friends, does not mean they want the type of photography I offer. That is okay! Don’t be offended if a friend chooses to go with another photographer. They may not be able to afford you and/or prefer a different style then you provide.

Even more, some friends may think they love your style but do not value your work as a photographer. Subconsciously or not, they can be the worst clients when it comes to not seeing you as an authority, or not as a friend to “take a few quick photos.”

Seattle Photographer, Neyssa Lee, writing in her journal with laptop nearby

So, how on earth do you determine your ICA?

As we just covered many mistakes, it can feel intimidating to define your dream client. These are HOW MANY steps to creating your ideal client avatar.

  1. Create a list of the best photography sessions you’ve had. What clients were a dream to work with? Who comes to mind when I say the words “best session ever?”
  2. Describe these sessions. What made them amazing? What made the clients so amazing to work with? Why did you connect? Did they do, or not do, anything in particular?
  3. Search for underlying values. Look through those amazing sessions and determine what the common values are.
  4. Create a list of the worst sessions you’ve had. What clients were awful to work with? What comes to mind when I say, “worst sessions ever?”
  5. Describe those sessions. What made them less than ideal? What did the client do, or not do, that made the process challenging for you?
  6. Again search for underlying values. What are those values that do not align with your brand, that lead to sessions you dread?

You may be surprised at what you find when you dig a little deeper, and how much more clear you can get in defining your dream client. By looking at both great sessions and not-so-great sessions you can begin to create the boundaries of your ideal client’s values.

Continuously Refine Your Ideal Client Avatar

Creating your dream client is an ongoing process that requires constant refinement and adaptation. Your ICA may evolve as your photography business grows and your style develops. Regularly review and refine your ICA to ensure it accurately represents the audience you want to attract. Engage with your existing clients to gain insights into their needs and refine your offerings accordingly.

By avoiding these common mistakes and optimizing your approach to defining your dream client, your photography business will thrive with your dream clients. Understanding their needs, preferences, and motivations will allow you to tailor your services and marketing efforts to attract and serve them effectively. Establishing a strong connection with your ideal clients will not only bring you professional fulfillment but also contribute to the long-term success of your photography business.

Do you want support in creating your dream client for your photography business? This is one of many things we could cover in a personal business coaching call.

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Comments +

  1. Jaime King says:

    This was great! I’ll def be reading again. This has been one of the most challenging things for me for many years.

  2. laura swift says:

    i love the idea of the dream client. i had not thought about similar values. lots to think about now. loved this post, neyssa

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