If you want your career to provide you with freedom, flexibility, and sustainability, then it's hard to do much better than work as a freelance web developer. True, there's a lot of competition in the marketplace; but if you specialize in a truly unique niche (and especially if you have years of experience under your belt), you'll be able to stand out from the crowd.
Finding a good niche for your career in web design can be a great way to make some serious cash, and pursue your interests and passions at the same time. Of course, there are some important questions that you'll need to consider before taking the plunge into the "niche industry." For example:
- What exactly is a niche?
- What benefits could you receive from pursuing a career in niche web design?
- How can you identify a good niche for you?
Let's drill down into the answers for each question, one by one, and see if we can find you a good launching pad for the next stage of your career in web development.
What is a niche?
If you want to use the technical definition, a niche market is a "particular segment or subset of a bigger market, which caters to a specific group of people having common likings and demand." In other words, a niche market is made up of clients that have very specific needs. They need specialized help on a granular level instead of assistance from a generalist.
In the context of the web design industry, you may be able to think of several niche markets off the top of your head. For instance, there's a market for clients that need new applications built. There's the market for developers who are "fluent" in a particular programming language, like Swift. There's the market for newer companies, especially SMBs, who need designers to build them a functional, professional WordPress website. The list could go on and on.
Here's the main takeaway: once you decide to pursue a niche in the web design sector, it will affect everything about your freelance work moving forward. It will affect how you market your services, how you brand yourself, where you look for clients, and how much you charge, to name just a few things. With that in mind, let's discuss our next question...
What are the benefits of finding a good niche?
To answer this question, think for a moment about the medical industry. Why does a neurosurgeon make a lot more money than a general practitioner? Simply put: because the neurosurgeon has a highly specialized skill set. Very few people can perform brain surgery!
In the same way, finding your niche in the web development industry can help you to make a lot more money than you would as a generalist. If you have a highly specialized skill set that companies need, then you're in a great position to attract clients. Most business leaders are more comfortable hiring a specialist with a proven track record of success than a generalist who may or may not have the needed skills to get the job done. In the end, going the specialist route is usually worth it to the company, even if it means shelling out more money upfront.
As an additional benefit, both you and your clients will experience a smoother working relationship if you have specialized knowledge within a certain field. For example, if you're an expert in Swift development, that's building a new application from the ground up, you'll spend less time on fixing errors, and be able to deliver the final product to your client more quickly than a generalist ever could.
How can you find your perfect niche?
This is where it takes quite a bit of effort on your part. After all, all the benefits mentioned above only come to you after you've identified and successfully pursued the right niche for you. So what steps can you take to find that area of specialty that aligns with your goals and interests?
Conducting some data-centric research is a key starting point for your journey. For instance, you can use existing freelance platforms like Fiverr and Upwork to figure out where the demand is and which niche industries may be viable options for you. Fiverr's platform breaks down general categories into subcategories, and then takes those subcategories and breaks them down into even more granular categories (think web design, WordPress, WordPress security). Upwork allows you to scroll through scores of job postings on a daily basis, and see which categories are the most popular and the most profitable.
Should you build your freelancing business around platforms like Fiverr and Upwork? It's true that these and other freelancing "network sites" can help you get your foot in the door. But when it comes to creating a sustainable freelancing career, both platforms have some serious drawbacks. For example:
- Both Fiverr and Upwork take a significant cut of your paycheck for each completed job. (Fiverr takes 20% across the board, and Upwork has a sliding scale for their "service fee" that peaks at 20%.)
- There's a lot of competition on both sites — which means that there's also a lot of undercutting to win the job.
If you take those two factors together, what you come up with is less income and a lower rate for your work.
Ultimately, the best way to establish yourself in a niche is to seek out clients on your own. The good news is, you don't have to go it alone as you try to build your brand. If you want to pursue a niche as one of your professional goals, check out our helpful guide on how to set the right priorities and goals for yourself. And be sure to look into our all-in-one platform for freelancers, too. It is full of integrated, accessible tools that can boost your organization and increase your productivity.
The bottom line? Finding a good niche can make your work more profitable, help you to maintain a flexible schedule, and enable you to pursue your professional interests. If you haven't looked into the world of niche web design yet, be sure to check it out as soon as possible. You'll be glad you did.