You may have heard the expression ‘the riches are in the niches’, meaning that the more niche your services or offer, the more sought after and profitable you are likely to be as a freelancer.
But is it true? What are the real pros and cons of niching? Should you have a niche when starting out, or are you better off launching your freelance career as a generalist?
Let’s find out.
What is a niche and what are the benefits
Firstly, what is a niche?
A freelancer niche is generally a particular industry, area, or skill set (or sometimes a combination of all of these) that a freelancer focuses on as an area of expertise to market to and attract clients.
The thought process behind this strategy is that by carving out a niche, you are more likely to stand out from the competition. And in the right circumstances, you can charge more, i.e. if you are the only person offering your specific service and demand is high, it could be very profitable indeed.
For example, you could be a fitness coach focusing on weight loss or a specific diet (e.g. Noom or the Primal Diet), a photographer specializing in wedding photography, or a writer with a particular writing style or writing about a specific industry.
You could even further niche these down. So the wedding photographer could specialize in black and white photography only or a specific type of themed wedding. The coach could be a weight loss coach for women in a particular age range. The writer could be a copywriter for SaaS in the tech industry. You get the picture.
Being known as the go-to person in your industry is an empowering position to be in, especially if you’ve got a good reputation and know how to promote yourself well.
Some freelancers are afraid to niche as they think they should be offering more services.
But it’s perfectly okay to offer ‘just one thing’, i.e. the thing you excel at most (as long as there’s a demand for it). You want to avoid being perceived as the Jack of All Trades but Master of None.
Turn your passion into profits
Some freelancers already have a niche. They know exactly what they are good at and already know their ideal client before they even launch their freelance career.
For example, you could be a freelance financial copywriter based on your former career as a communications professional in the financial services industry. Or you could be a talented artist turned freelance watercolor painter who specializes in landscape commissions.
Something that started out as a hobby could also turn out to be a powerful niche.
An interest in graphic novels or comics could spark the desire to be a graphic artist, or an in-depth knowledge of brewing your own beer could turn into a craft beer business.
Passion businesses can be profitable as long as there is a market for them. So before you start out, it’s best to ensure there is a demand for your niche skill.
But the great thing about doing what you love is that it will never feel like work.
Cons of niching
It is possible to be too niche, and this could be a problem if there is a change in demand in your industry. You could find yourself having to re-skill and start all over again. What’s more, if the market you operate in is small, then there may be a limit to how much you can grow.
Also, if you are just starting out in your freelance career, you likely ‘don’t know what you don’t know’. You might settle on a niche that you find you don’t enjoy or discover something better that you are good at and would like to do.
Niching down too soon can create as many problems as not having a niche at all.
For example, generalist copywriters can often turn their hand to many different industries, topics and formats – from crafting email marketing copy for a tech company to writing sales pages for the fitness industry.
Working across different industries opens up the scope of clients you can work for and adds variety, meaning you don’t get bored and can turn a profit from your core skill, in the example above, writing.
Furthermore, you are always increasing your experience so you can charge more.
Another downside to niching is you may become too focused on one thing, not allowing you to see the wider picture in your industry and therefore missing out on coming up with new innovative ideas to help your ideal clients (and earn more money).
Whatever you decide to do, you should research if there is market demand for your service or skill and also consider how you like to work.
For example, would niching down be too limiting for you, conversely would being a generalist dilute your skillset? These are things that only you can decide on as they depend upon multiple, as well as personal, factors.
At Invoice Ninja, our niche is providing quality free and paid invoice software for freelancers, service providers and small business owners – so you can focus on doing what you love, and we’ll take care of the invoicing!
Hopefully, this blog post has provided you with some freelancer food for thought. If you know anyone else who might benefit, please feel free to share it. Thank you!