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Should You Find a Niche or Be a Generalist?

Mar 23, 2021
(updated: Dec 2, 2022)
Max 5 min read

There’s something compelling about being the solution to everyone’s problem. With freelancing, it’s easy to offer a wide range of services and be the go-to person for any task. That means never turning down a job and trying to excel in various areas and subject matters. 

But is that the best approach?

Whether you’ve just started freelancing or have been doing it for a long time, you’ve probably struggled with whether to be a generalist or if you should niche down.

When I started freelancing six years ago, I thought the generalist approach was the one for me. But in 2021, I’ve found success in turning my freelance business into an agency that just does one thing. 

Specialization empowers you to focus on doing the things you’re best at and gives you space to do them well. When I decided on my specific niche, I restructured my offerings to attract my ideal client, who I could also better serve. 

Throughout my career, I’ve learned the benefits of finding my niche, and I can help you learn how to find your niche, too. 

Here’s what I’ll share about the process:

  • Why being a generalist isn’t the most profitable path
  • How I repositioned my business over time to address my laser focus on content writing

How finding your niche attracts your ideal client

Books like Range: How Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World suggest that the secret to freelance success is to try to be everything to everyone. 

It’s tempting to say “yes” to every paid opportunity, but this often means becoming the entrepreneur who works 60 hours for themselves to avoid working 40 hours for someone else. And those additional hours might not even involve working with your ideal client.

And what’s the point in that if you want to take advantage of the freedom associated with running your own business?

When I started my online business, The Blogsmith, it was initially called “Put Your Brand Online,” and I advertised a wide list of services, including website design, social media marketing, and content writing services.

I eventually decided that offering all three of these services in one business model involved too many variables. Too many processes to create. I needed to define my personal brand and market niche.

Repositioning my business to focus on one service & one niche

Early in my freelance writing career, I would write about almost anything, including carpet cleaning, personal injury lawyers, and emergency vet services

This is not to say that I wouldn’t still take on those clients, but I realized before too long that the messaging around my website and social channels should be clear about the clients I was best suited for.

My background is in WordPress web design, so I started working for clients in the WordPress space. Before long, I realized that these were the clients where I produced my best work

When I was working on my new website design, I decided that I would only advertise my content writing services. I got rid of everything about designing websites and doing social media. 

This helped me realize how to find my niche, and then I refocused my company. I found a team with the specific skills I needed, built resources for them, and refined processes focused on one service. 

I was able to create a better company that would better serve my ideal client

Specializing can be an excellent option for business owners because you can offer your unique expertise and provide a better service. In turn, you become more qualified in your area and more valuable, letting you charge more money for your time. 

But how do you find your niche?

Find your niche

Start with your background and goals

  • Imagine the future 
  • Work backward from your ideal client
  • Don’t pigeonhole yourself
  • Avoid popular niches  
  • Consider niches in another category
  • Test your business idea with trial and error
  • Experiment with what works best for you

When you’re figuring out how to find your niche in business, it’s helpful to start with your background. What special skills or strengths do you have? Do you have a unique value proposition you can offer? 

You can also find potential niches by considering the future. Do you have any goals, motivations, or values that require specialization? If you want to work in a particular field or job area, that can help you narrow down your options. 

If you have many passions or currently provide several services, it can be tough to know how to pick a niche. But a better question is how to define your niche. 

A game-changing moment for me was when I started to work with clients in the WordPress community. Once I realized which clients I could best serve, it helped me make the decision to specialize. 

In doing that, I didn’t completely toss my other skills out the window, though. When you’re figuring out how to find your niche, that doesn’t mean pigeonholing yourself. You can present different facets on different platforms, for example. 

On Twitter, my bio says, “I write for your favorite #WordPress brands” because when I’m on this platform, those are the majority of users I interact with.

Your positioning should be somewhat consistent, but you can customize it for the medium and audience.

While you may draw inspiration from popular niches, don’t be afraid to branch out. Many people who run niche businesses have made a career in a field that didn’t necessarily exist when they first started. Just look at Marie Kondo

If, after some consideration, you don’t want to narrow your services, you can still specialize in other ways like a market niche. You can learn how to choose a niche market or pin down an ideal client profile. 

Think about the target market you want to connect with and consider your potential clients and their needs. Narrowing your focus to a local area or group of people might help you excel in that space versus spreading yourself too thin. 

Once you’ve decided on the right niche, make sure to check back frequently to see if it’s still working for you. After some analysis and testing, you can see if your chosen niche works for you. 

You might realize you focused on the wrong niche or that you want to expand your offerings in different ways. You can also continue to offer your other services as add-ons to your main offerings. I still have one client I do social media for, but I am not taking on any new clients for that. 

It all depends on what works best for you and your company. Your niche should help you focus and become a better provider. 

How to find your ideal client 

Instead of appealing to the mass market, consider a specific niche you can become an expert in to boost your career. 

Without a doubt, how you find your niche in freelancing will look different than mine. And it’s perfectly acceptable to offer more than one service. My hope for you is that by reading this article, you can avoid some of my mistakes and get ideas for implementing your process.

While you’ll want to spend some time thinking through your business niche, you don’t have to worry about your freelance back office by using Indy’s platform. Join for free today.

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