I’m reading Book Yourself Solid again. Chapter 1 starts by getting you to define your ideal clients and your dud clients.

Today I’m going to share most of my written work out of chapter one. For obvious reasons I’m going to skip actually naming clients.

What type of clients don’t I want?

I’m not interested in clients that don’t speak respectfully. For me that means a profanity filled discussion or email is a non-starter. There are times in life when some swearing may be warranted but it’s unlikely that our work should encounter one.

An oft used diagram for pricing is a triangle with ‘good’, ‘fast’ and ‘cheap’ on the points. You can only pick 2.


I don’t want clients that always pick the cheap side. I want clients that choose the good point most. I want to do good work.

I’m not simply a programming extension for your fingers. I’m not interested in clients that just want me to be a code pusher (or pixel pusher).

I’m not interested in clients that have excuses about payment. Invoices should be paid promptly without “reasons” about why it’s late. Sure, life happens and I want to be reasonable when the unexpected comes up. However, it shouldn’t come up for every invoice.


Once you’ve identified the client traits you don’t want, you’re supposed to dump them. Yes, it’s scary to just say goodbye, but if you’re killing time on clients you don’t want to work for you’re also killing productivity on the good clients.

This time around I only have one client that may have one aspect above (the cheap part) but they excel at all the things I love about clients. So they really classify as ‘moderate’ clients which means they stay.

My ideal client

My ideal client talks about quality and trust. They trust that I can provide quality work and that I’m starting out with their best interests all the time.

My ideal client knows that life is more than just work and they extend that knowledge to those that work with them. They don’t just expect me to work all hours while they enjoy life.

See automation (as in testing and automated deployment) as a net benefit not a limiter to their own “hacking” on code. I don’t find files played with while I’m working on things, because they just wanted to try things out. They buy into the automation and tools if they want to contribute.

My ideal clients enjoys laughing and gets my sense of humor. If we’re going to spend lots of time working together then we should enjoy it. There are lots of other things I could be doing that I don’t enjoy.

What do my clients “need” to possess for me to work with them?

If you want to work with me, then you need to pay on time. I think this is obvious.

If you want to work with me, then I expect to talk about ROI for the project and get into some real numbers. If you’re not willing to share numbers on the project then we aren’t partners and you don’t trust me. There is a better fit for you somewhere.

When we need a bit more time to take the project from “okay, but done” to “we are done and it’s awesome” we take the time needed. We shouldn’t always be cutting corners and we should be given the time it takes to do job right.

My clients need to have a proper sense of what an emergency is. I don’t expect epic emergency calls on things that are actually trivial. Life rarely ends with the status of a web server over 20 minutes.

Years ago, I had a midnight call from a client in full freak out mode about ‘loosing thousands of dollars’ with there site down. They were mad at me because I ignored the first 2 calls (I sleep really well). What they forgot was that I also see their stats and know that they made $100/week on the site.

Just for me picking up the call at midnight cost them a weeks worth of income for the site.

My clients need to be looking for a partner. They want to hear my opinion and they weigh it. We may not do what I think is best all the time, but we do discuss the options and do what is best for the project as a whole.

My client filters

These are the things that I’m looking for as I engage with clients from the beginning. Be it via email or in our initial call.

When we communicate I should enjoy it. During a call, I should have laughed or at least chuckled internally at part of the interaction because it was fun.

During our initial calls or emails I should see or hear the word partner and feel like I’m inside the idea with them.

My clients should have a long term plan for the site. This is not a one off relationship for a site that has a life of 2 months. I love building new ideas and seeing if they work, but the business plan should be for a few years of running a successful business. It may not be a great idea, but we plan for it to be awesome.

What about you?

Have you defined who your ideal client is? Have you written down what just won’t fly when working with someone?

If not then take a look at what I have above and get started.

Even better, purchase Book Yourself Solid and work through it.

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