Niche Your Freelancing: Losing Services To Gain The Work You Want
As a freelancer, we’re expected to be a jack-of-all-trades. We must be accountants, marketers, the boss, the worker, the janitor, the tax specialist, the IT guy, the secretary and the CEO. In addition to that, we must also perform what we actually offer our clients; be it design, programming, writing services or whatever.
I actually prided myself that I could do all of these plus some. Not only could I handle all of the positions of being self-employed; I also offered my clients a variety of trades they could choose from: design, front end development, back end development, content writing, SEO and various other website related services. So what happened? As the popular saying goes: I became the jack of all trades, and a master of none. My business was not going in the direction I wanted to, and I was not doing the work I really wanted to do.
Why Niche Your Business?
You became self-employed to do the work you wanted to do, not the work you’re boss told you to do. While there will always be those filler projects that we don’t enjoy; the majority of our time should be spent on doing the work we enjoy. Not only does niching improve this, it also allows you to become more of an expert in your field, therefor increasing your quality of work and clients.
Pretend for a Moment
What should you niche yourself in? A good place for a freelancer to start out is in his services (which is where I went), some go even further to niche in a particular sector (health, dining, etc) but I don’t particularly care what sector I work in; just the type of work I’m doing. So think for a moment, what is your dream freelance job? Do you love designing all day, but hate coding? Do you love WordPress templating but hate SEO? In my case, I love front end CSS/HTML developing, but I HATE designing for other people. While I may be told I’m good at it, while every once in awhile I come across a project I really do want to design, in the long run, I’d rather be coding PSDs all day than actually making them.
Make your Niche Clear
In order to become an industry expert, and to start gaining clients you want, you must make your niche clear to everyone. This means axing the non-wanted services on your portfolio (it was sad to see my design go), even if these had great examples, it would only continue to attract the work you didn’t want. This also means removing any reference to the services in all of your public profiles, social media, etc. Put it front in center on your website that you “specialize in xyz”. Make sure you only apply for freelancing jobs in your niche, and you refuse any jobs that don’t fall into your niche. (This is a good time to start partnering up with some awesome freelancers who do what you don’t).
Become An Expert
Axing services can be scary, as you feel you’re going to lose business, but if you really are an expert in one area, why wouldn”t you gain business? After niching yourself you may end up in a lull of work (where I am now), so take that extra time to REALLY become an expert – read and comment on blogs, Twitter about it and talk about it to everyone. Get your name out there. Your goal should be that your name is on the forefront of everyone’s minds when they think about X service. This takes a lot of time and patience, but will pay off in the end.
Don’t Stop Being a Niche Hog
Continue pushing your niche, even if your slammed. While you may be slammed now, if you don’t continue marketing, you’re going to be in another lull as soon as your current projects finish. This helps to keep your name in front of everyone as much as possible.
I’m Niched, Now What?
After you start successfully getting the projects you want, you need to step back and analyze your business again. Make sure your projects are what you want. Can you turn some projects down? The goal of any freelance business is to have enough business where you can pick and choose the projects you really want to do; not to have to accept every one because you need the work.
What About You?
Have you niched yourself? Did it work? Do you have any tips that can help those who need a footing in their own business?