Have you been struggling to identify your ideal client for your online practice?
Maybe, you thought you could keep it vague and work with everyone. After all, you could always narrow it down later on.
Unfortunately, this strategy is unlikely to work for most location independent therapists.
You might think that when you work online, you could potentially work with anyone, no matter where they are in the world. (Although there are some limits – find out how to navigate these laws & regulations here).
But the truth is that you also are in competition with many other online therapists since there are fewer limits around location.
So, you’re going to need to stand out from the crowd to get noticed (and get clients!). And the best way to do that is to identify your ideal client.
If you’re feeling stuck or don’t know where to begin, don’t worry. We’ve faced this challenge ourselves and supported our LIT Community members in defining their ideal clients, too.
In this guide, we’ll walk you through why you need to know who your ideal client is and share some tips on how to identify your ideal client.
You can also download our helpful free worksheet on how to identify your ideal client, so you can put these tips into practice. Scroll down to the bottom of the blog post to grab it!
As soon as you know exactly who your ideal client is, it will help you in every aspect of your business!
Why It’s So Hard to Identify Your Ideal Client
As therapists, we are usually trained to work with all types of clients. So, it can be hard to wrap your head around the idea of narrowing your focus to a niche and ideal client.
Choosing a Niche = Fewer Clients?
If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone. Many therapists worry that by defining their ideal client, they’re limiting themselves to a smaller audience, fewer clients, and less money.
However, this is a scarcity mindset. The truth is that there are so many potential clients out there – but you need to find a way to connect with them. Getting clear on your ideal client will benefit your business in several ways – we’ll take a closer look at these reasons below.
Choosing a Niche = Less Job Fulfillment?
Another common concern is that you’ll get bored or even have “buyer’s remorse” after choosing your niche and ideal client. Won’t talking about the same issues all the time will start to get old after a while?
That’s a valid point, but it’s also why it’s so important to think through your ideal client and niche carefully. You want to choose an ideal client and niche you feel excited and passionate about, so you start every day feeling energised and look forward to every session.
Also, getting clarity on your ideal client doesn’t mean that you have to tie yourself down to working with this type of client for the rest of your career. Your practice will continue to evolve and adapt over time – this decision isn’t final.
Remember that when you work for yourself, you’re the one calling the shots. So, if your work doesn’t feel aligned at any point, you can revisit the idea of your ideal client and reimagine it.
Why It’s Crucial to Identify Your Ideal Client
We’ve covered some of the reasons why online therapists struggle or avoid clarifying who their ideal client is. And we’ve also made some suggestions for making this process less scary and overwhelming!
But why is it so important to identify your ideal client, anyway?
Before we dive into a few different ways to get clear on your ideal client, let’s take a closer look at the reasons to do so in the first place.
The reality is that if you want to market your practice internationally (or even just online, within your own country), you will have a hard time reaching anyone if you don’t specialize.
One thing we’ve learned over many years of working online is that niching down is essential.
As a therapist, you want to make an impact and help people. But if you have too many different offers or try to serve everyone, you’ll end up serving no one.
You won’t have any way of standing out in the crowd. And you’ll be less likely to get in front of your ideal client so that they can learn about why they should work with you instead of someone else.
Knowing Your Ideal Client = Easier & Effective Marketing
Choosing your niche and getting clear on your offers and your ideal client is crucial to your success as an online therapist. It will help you save your precious time and energy because it will assist you in choosing marketing strategies that are actually effective.
Identifying your ideal client will help you:
- Understand your client and what they need help with
- Find out where your client spends time online
- Narrow down your marketing channels and know where to focus your attention
- Get clear on your tone and voice
- Address potential clients in a way that resonates and forms a connection
- And get more clients that (most importantly) you enjoy working with!
Knowing Your Ideal Client = Enjoying Your Work & Feeling Fulfilled
Identifying your ideal client can also help you to feel more fulfilled in the work you do.
Imagine how amazing it would feel to look at your schedule for the day and realize that it is full of clients that you feel excited about working with? If you resonate with each of your clients and feel confident that you can help them?
You’ll probably feel more motivated to work on your business and less likely to burn out. And by specializing, you can wave goodbye to imposter syndrome.
Also, it’s important to note that just because you know your ideal client, it doesn’t mean that you’ll never work with anyone else again. Getting clear on your ideal client allows you to focus your messaging, but it doesn’t determine who you see.
So, it’s still possible to work with clients outside your niche. But when you identify your ideal client, you’ll make it so much easier to run your business, connect with clients, and enjoy what you do every single day.
How to Identify Your Ideal Client as a Location Independent Therapist
So, now you know why clarifying your ideal client is such a good idea. But how do you go about narrowing it down to a specific ideal client?
Here are some suggestions for different ways you can approach this question. You can use these prompts to brainstorm the types of clients you most enjoy working with. And from there, you can use this information to get clear on who your ideal client is.
#1: Who have you worked with before?
One way to figure out your ideal client is to reflect on who you’ve worked with before. That can be in various settings, both online and offline.
Think about who you’ve worked with, and of those clients, who you enjoyed working with most. Get as specific as you can about the clients you worked with, and try to notice any similarities or patterns. Think about their demographics, (age, profession, life circumstances, etc.), symptoms, the way you worked with them, the setting, and any other important factors.
You should also be honest about the clients you didn’t enjoy working with. You should consider what it was about those experiences that made it less enjoyable and fulfilling for you.
By noting down and reflecting on the most fulfilling and least enjoyable work experiences you’ve had so far, you can start to develop a picture of your ideal client.
#2: Who are you working with right now?
If you’re already working online and have a few clients, another helpful approach is to think about how you feel about your clients right now.
Have a look at your weekly or monthly calendar, with these questions in mind:
- What do you enjoy most about your work?
- Which sessions do you look forward to most, and why?
- What’s special about the sessions or clients you look forward to?
- Are there any sessions that leave you feeling drained or uninspired?
By thinking about how much you enjoy working with your clients now, you can get a much clearer idea of who you want to work with moving forward.
If you don’t feel so passionate about the clients you’re working with right now, that’s also okay. In fact, it’s a sign that it might be time to pivot and start working with a different niche or type of client with whom you feel more aligned.
#3: Imagine a new client that feels like the perfect fit
These first two approaches can be helpful if you have worked with a variety of different clients. But you might be working with clients who don’t fall into your ideal niche at all, or maybe you’re newly qualified and don’t have a lot of experience working with different types of clients yet.
In that case, you can still come up with your ideal client – but you’ll need to use your imagination.
For example, imagine this scenario. You’ve just had a successful first session with a client, and you feel like it’s a great fit. Consider these questions to help you analyze the situation:
- What would make you say that?
- What it is about the client that makes you so excited to work with them?
- Is it something they said or did?
- Or is it something specific about the client or the challenges they’re facing with them?
- And most importantly – why do you want to work with this client?
#4: When have you felt the biggest reward as a therapist?
Another helpful prompt could be thinking about the situations when you’ve felt the biggest reward when working with a client. Get as detailed as you can – journalling about these things can be very effective.
Thinking about when you’ve felt the most reward can get to the core of what you enjoy most about your work – and who you enjoy working with. Note down the situation, the client’s struggles and achievements, and you may start to see a pattern emerge.
And this way, you can identify when and why you feel the most fulfilled in your work.
#5: What techniques do you like to use with your clients?
You can also think about the techniques you most enjoy using with your clients. For example, you might prefer to use Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) or self-compassion techniques. In that case, you can consider who would benefit most from these techniques and when they’re the most appropriate and effective.
Hopefully, these suggestions will give you some inspiration to start clarifying who your ideal client is. It will take some reflection, a little imagination, and a lot of thought, but you’ll soon feel more confident about who you want to work with.
A Few More Tips for Clarifying Your Ideal Client
Here are a couple more tips we’ve found helpful for the process of identifying your ideal client.
Get as specific as you can about your ideal client!
The more specific you can get about your ideal client, the better.
If your ideal client is “men aged 30-50 with anxiety issues”, that’s way too vague. You need to narrow it down a lot more and make it very clear who you work with.
Only by getting more specific will you come to understand who your ideal client is, what they’re struggling with, and how you can help them.
The best way to do this is to create a persona with as many specifics as possible. Give your persona a name, age, interests, relationships, and the challenges or symptoms they’re dealing with.
By doing this, you’ll get so much clearer about who your client is and how to address them effectively. You’ll gain a greater understanding of where they spend their time (i.e., where you should be focusing your marketing efforts) and how to speak to them in a way that will resonate.
And once you’ve got really clear on who your ideal client is, you’ll find it easier to take the next steps as a business owner. You’ll know how to present and package your services, communicate effectively, and attract the right kind of clients.
Whenever you write any kind of marketing copy – from a social media post to your newsletter or your website – imagine your ideal client reading it. Is it interesting to them? What will grab their attention and make them want to start working with you?
By knowing exactly who your ideal client is, you’ll feel much more confident in marketing yourself and attracting clients.
Don’t Worry if it Takes Some Time to Identify Your Ideal Client
We’ve shared how important it is to identify your ideal client in this article.
But it’s also worth mentioning that you may not initially know your niche or ideal client.
Instead, it may take some time to help you identify it. You may need to work with a variety of different clients to clarify what you find most fulfilling and who you want to work with in the long term.
And that’s okay, too. Running a business is a marathon rather than a sprint.
But if that does sound like you, we recommend you make it an ongoing priority to figure out who your ideal client is and how you can help them. Take some time at the end of your client sessions to write down what you liked, and what you didn’t like.
Trust us, specializing is one of the best things you can do to grow your visibility and attract your target audience.
Download our Free Worksheet to Help You Identify Your Ideal Client
We’ve created a simple and effective worksheet to help you get clarity on who your ideal client is.
It’s simple and won’t take too long to complete. This worksheet will allow you to think through and note down what kind of clients you’re looking to work with. You’ll create a detailed client avatar so you know exactly who you should be targeting and how to address your ideal client.
Download the free worksheet here!
Let us know in the comments if you find this worksheet helpful – we’d love to know. And if you know of any colleagues who would also find it useful, please share the link to this blog post with them!
Looking for More Support?
If you’re looking for more support as a location independent therapist, the LIT Community is the perfect place for you. It’s our thriving community of mental health professionals all over the world, where you’ll find like-minded colleagues on the same journey.
We provide support, accountability, and inspiration for (aspiring) location independent therapists no matter where you are in your journey from starting to growing or scaling your business. We do this through:
- Virtual coworking sessions
- Business meetups
- Live guest expert talks
- Peer supervision groups
- Hot seat coaching
- A 24/7 discussion board
- A book club and a movie club
- Coworking sessions for support & accountability
- Our entire event replay library available to you
- A resource library of contracts, worksheets, etc
- A growing referral network and public LIT Directory
And we can support you in defining your ideal client, too! You could grab one of our hot seat spots to talk it through with us or ask for feedback about this topic (or anything else) on our discussion board.
Our doors are currently closed, but we’ll open them again soon. Find out more about the LIT Community here, and make sure to sign up for our waitlist to be the first to hear when we’ll next open the doors!