Five Steps to Discovering Your Ideal Client

POSTED IN : Branding & Marketing

Everyone talks about it all the time online – your target audience, your perfect bride, your dream clients.

These are all different ways to talk about the same thing – your ideal client.

Everyone talks about it, because it’s really important.

In fact, ruthlessly going after your ideal client is critical to running a business that you LOVE.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Ruthlessly going after your ideal client is critical to running a business you LOVE.” quote=”Ruthlessly going after your ideal client is critical to running a business you LOVE.”]

The not-so-good news is that discovering who your ideal clients are is such an in-depth process, that I can’t help you learn everything you absolutely need to know in a single blog post. The most important tasks in your business are ones that don’t come easy, right?

But that’s why I created our master course, Discover Your Ideal Client, which teaches you the step by step system of discovering and booking your Dreamies.

(Check out our free training on how to get better clients here!)

In the meantime, though, I get asked ALL THE TIME from wedding photographers around the country:


Erin, exactly HOW do I figure out who my Ideal Clients are?


So to help, I put together FIVE EASY STEPS that will get you started in the right direction with discovering your ideal client. If you only work through these steps and do nothing else, you will already be ahead of the game, my friends!

Step #1: Write Down Your Favorite Past Clients

Write down 3 to 5 of your absolute FAVORITE past clients.

If you have more than five, that’s awesome! Write them down too – the more clients you can study, the better!

(BTW If you are just getting started and don’t have very many past clients to work with, write down friends, family, or acquaintances that you would LOVE to photograph if you got the chance.)


Step #2: Were They…?

Next to each one of those favorite clients, write down any of these letters – P, C, and R – next to each client based on the criteria below. You can write down as many of the letters that apply:

  • (P) = Were they PROFITABLE? Write ‘P’ next to the client’s name if they were profitable for you. Now, I don’t mean ‘did they paid you the MOST‘.  What I do mean, is did they pay you your asking price, no questions asked?
  • (C) = Did you CONNECT? Write down the letter ‘C’ if you connected with them personally and/or creatively. Did their wedding inspire you as an artist? Did you feel alive working with them?
  • (R) = Do they REFER you? Has this client talked about you to their friends OR are they part of an ideal network that you would like to be a part of? Write down the letter ‘R’ if the answer is YES.


Step #3: Focus on Your Ideal Past Clients

Look at your list, and identify the clients that have two or more letters next to their name.

These are the people that are truly ideal for you.

These are the ones that are not only PROFITABLE FOR YOUR SOUL, but they are also PROFITABLE FOR YOUR BUSINESS, and you should focus your energies on them when studying your target market.


Step #4: Start with The Surface: Their Likes, Interests, and Hobbies

The next step is to ask yourself a number of surface questions about each of these past clients to understand their personalities and their habits. Ask yourself these questions about your favorite past clients:

  1. What do they like to do with their free time? What is their favorite date night?
  2. What is their personal style? What kind of clothes do they typically wear?
  3. What are they generally interested in? Do they like certain kinds of food? Are they into beer or wine? Are they into video games? Do they love adventures like hiking or traveling? Are they into cars or boats or motorcycles?
  4. What do they do for a living? Are they lawyers? Doctors? Teachers? Artists? etc
  5. Where did they grow up? Are they close with their families?

Once you’ve written these down, (1) CIRCLE any common traits that occur between your favorite couples, (2) STAR the traits that you LIKE the most about them,  and then (3) UNDERLINE traits that you also happen to enjoy in your OWN LIFE.


Step #5: Dig Down to the Values

The last step is more difficult and will take the most time to complete, but it’s THE MOST IMPORTANT STEP. Don’t skip it!

You cannot stop at just the surface characteristics of your Ideal Clients, because they are just that – shallow and surfacey. What you really need to understand is WHY your favorite clients like the things they do.


You need to understand what they VALUE. 


Because here’s the secret to your Ideal Client that most people don’t understand:

The reason you love certain clients more than others isn’t because you happen to drive the same car or shop at the same stores.

The reason you love certain clients more than others is because YOU SHARE THE SAME VALUES.

You both believe the same things are important in life.

It’s when you understand the WHY beneath the WHAT that you will start booking your Dreamies on a regular basis.

[clickToTweet tweet=”It’s when you know your ideal client’s WHY that you will start booking your Dreamies on a regular basis.” quote=”It’s when you know your ideal client’s WHY that you will start booking your Dreamies on a regular basis.”]

So look at the items that have been circled, starred, and/or underlined in your list from Step #4 (pay special attention to those items that have multiple markers), and write them down one side of a separate page in a column marked ‘THE WHAT’. Then in a column on the other side write down ‘THE WHY’.

See if you can begin to identify WHY your favorite clients choose to do the things that they do. It will probably be the easiest to start with the items that you underlined, because you enjoy those things in your own life, too.


The great news is that if you work through these five steps, you will be on your way to discovering who your Ideal Clients really are! Woohoo!

But like I mentioned before, there is SO MUCH MORE that goes into this process – things like positioning, demographics, cohorts, value systems, branding, copywriting, and the oh-so-critical Dreamie Profile.

If you’re diggin’ this idea of getting better clients and booking your dream weddings, check out my FREE one-hour class here. 

This one hour of time could change everything in your business! Get your spot here!




We teach photographers to build life-giving businesses that they absolutely love.

About Us

We're Jeff & Erin

We’re Jeff and Erin Youngren – and it’s our mission to help you thrive not just as a wedding photographer, but as a business owner. It’s time to set aside the stress and comparison of a hustle mindset, and build a life-giving business instead.

We met in college, got married, and started corporate jobs before we discovered (and fell in love with) wedding photography. But like many creative entrepreneurs, we were booking anything we could, strapped to our laptops and living dangerously close to burnout.

So we dug in and learned how to build a thriving business that supports our dream life – instead of a joyless business that runs a stressed-out life.

Today, we photograph only 10 Dreamie weddings per year, but we also run two other wedding brands plus a commercial studio in San Diego, CA. And we do it by only working the hours that fit into our life. The other hours? We spend those living a joyful life raising our two beautiful sons, James and Samuel.


Jeff and Erin

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