Why Should Freelancers Have a Buyer Persona?
And how to create your first buyer persona
You probably have heard of the term buyer persona. It's used to describe a typical representation of your target audience. The most common way to build a buyer persona is to create a fictional person who checks all the boxes of your perfect customer.
It's a common practice among businesses, but not that many freelancers have a buyer persona.
There can be many reasons why freelancers skip this step, but one that bothers me the most is that freelancers don't see their work as a business, instead they hustle. But as long as you see your career as a hustle, it will remain only a hustle.
I mentioned before that if you want your freelance business to succeed, you need to see it for what it is - a business. This time, let’s talk about a small step that can bring it closer to becoming a business - - a buyer persona.
Benefits of having a buyer persona for freelancers:
Focused service - you know where to look for clients, how to optimize your services and target the right people.
Portfolio optimization - when you don't have a target audience or don't know where to focus, your portfolio can't bring the expected results. With a buyer persona in mind, you can create a few strong portfolio pieces and be sure they will work.
Higher rates - when you have a buyer persona, you can easier specialize in one niche or a field, making you an expert. Experts charge more because they know what their audience wants and how to solve their issues.
Communication style - communication style is essential, and while you should have your unique voice, different clients require different styles, vocabulary, and approaches.
Communication channels - you can benefit from segmenting communication platforms based on your audience. Focus on the media that your persona uses, instead of wasting time on all of them.
This is just a small list of the benefits that a buyer persona can bring to your freelance work. But let's move on to the most crucial point - creating a buyer persona.
Questions to ask before creating a buyer persona
On the internet, you can find plenty of free online tools that will help you build a buyer persona. But if you know the fundamentals of a target audience, you can easily make it yourself.
The way I build my audience is by asking key questions to determine their basic features. Then I go more in-depth to define a buyer persona's pain points, goals, and finally, a solution my business can provide.
Start by asking:
What is your niche?
Having a niche as a freelancer is important.
While your target audience can help determine a niche, knowing where you want to skew your business can facilitate the process of building a buyer persona.
Does the location of your clients matter?
For many traditional companies, location is, in fact, important, but for freelancers, not so much, as we aren't tied to a specific place. But be aware of time zones. I found it a bit too challenging to work with clients from very different time zones. I try to limit the time difference up to 2-3 hours. Also, mind the language barrier and demand for your skills in different markets.
Are occupation, gender, and age important?
Occupation can be a key to your audience, as it helps to be more precise when pitching your services. For instance, as a writer, you want to target people responsible for marketing, communication, and creative projects. This way, your efforts can bring better results than pitching, for instance, to a founder as they are too occupated to pay attention.
I don't segment into age and gender in my business, but perhaps your product or service is focused on a specific gender and age group.
Where do your perfect customers hang out?
Where your ideal customers hang out means finding the best communication channel to draw their attention. Do your ideal customers scroll Instagram? Do you find them on LinkedIn? Or maybe the only way to catch their attention is through an ad in a local newspaper.
Knowing where to find your target audience can be time and money-saving, as you can focus your marketing efforts on one or two media channels.
What's their business size?
SMEs have different needs compared to large businesses. Even the most versatile freelancer might find it too challenging to serve both small and big companies. Your rates and expectations also depend on the size of your client. Yes, large companies pay more, but it's harder to land such clients. So, find your match and focus on it. A specialist who works with small to medium businesses might benefit more from similar clients than from targeting large enterprises.
When you answer these questions, you can create a representation of a potential buyer based on your niche, their occupation, age, gender, and so on.
Building a buyer persona
Okay, so you already have a person in mind, but to tailor your service, you need to know your buyer's pain points, how you can solve them, and the benefits your service provides.
What problems does your persona have?
Many service providers offer a solution before they identify a problem their audience has. When you know the problem, you can deliver a better-suited solution. You will have much better results if you analyze your audience first.
Look into their search queries. Make questionnaires if needed. Follow them on social media. Analyze their customers and their problems. Only then can you identify your audience's pain points and, based on that, start forming your service proposal.
What are their goals?
A solution to a buyer persona's problem doesn't always match their goal. A problem can be - we can't reach enough organic leads. But the goal might sound like this - we need to reach 20k monthly readers. So, when you have a solution, you can craft your proposal to help clients achieve their goals.
How can you help solve their issue?
Can you create content that increases organic visitors to their blog? Can you bring innovative solutions to their marketing strategy? So on and so forth. Ask yourself how your freelance business can solve your customers' problems and help them achieve their goals.
You can say to your buyer persona: 'I'm a very talented graphic designer,' but that doesn't say a thing about how that benefits the customer. Instead, rephrase it: 'I use my skills and experience as a graphic designer to deliver a fresh and timely outlook to your design collateral.'
This way, you will switch the focus from yourself to them, and who doesn't like attention?
A buyer persona can be as simple as a few sentences about your desired clientele. Or you can go more in-depth. But the most crucial part is to have a target that could help you find better customers, increase your rates, and make more impact.
Let me know if you have a buyer persona and what was the creation process!
Want to know more about freelancing and how to find the best freelancers out there? Send me a message.