Imagine yourself standing in a crowd with hundreds of other freelancers. A potential client steps up on the podium and announces he is looking to hire a professional to work on an e-commerce website. How do you make yourself stand out? The secret is to not get lost in the crowd in the first place.
Today I read an article by Justin Tadlock over at WPTavern about lessons he learned by stepping outside his WordPress comfort zone. I couldn’t agree more with the premise of the article.
However, there is one paragraph I want to respond to:
While I am not entirely sure who Justin is referring to here, this is actually bad advice for freelancers. Imagine you are standing in that same crowd and everyone is wearing a white shirt. Do you think it’s a good idea to also wear a white shirt? No, you might find it better to wear red shirt so that you stick out.
Freelancers need to stand out. By calling yourself a “programmer” or any other generic term does not allow you to successfully market yourself and compete against the multitude of options a client has.
Think about it. If a client is looking for an e-commerce solution would they seek out a “programmer” or would they search for in e-commerce developer? By creating a niche, it’s like putting on a red shirt with giant letters on it.
Why Create a Niche?
You are competing against millions of freelancers worldwide and you want to stand out. You do this by creating a niche and becoming an expert in that niche. You will be able to offer deeper and more advice than a generalist. Your messaging becomes more clear and more precise. You will be the person that people think of when people search for that niche.
Benefits of Creating a Niche
If you want to increase your income, value, and demand you should create a specific focus. This can be done by specializing in a particular framework such as WordPress and WooCommerce or focusing on a specific industry. Doing so shows clients that you understand where they’re coming from, their specific problems, and that you’ve dealt with these types of projects before. They will be more likely to choose you as their provider versus everyone else.
How to Choose a Freelance Niche
Choosing a niche isn’t always easy and you may have to try several specific areas before you find the one that fits you best. Start by thinking about what kinds of projects and clients excite you the most. For instance, do you enjoy making websites for the medical community? Make a list of the top three types of clients and projects that you feel the most excited about and could talk about for days upon days.
Justin is right in the sense that you should try out different technologies and expand your overall development understanding. However, there is nothing wrong with focusing on a specific development area.
It’s not about becoming complacent but rather competing in a very over-saturated industry.