Niche is a pretty big buzzword in the freelance world.
If you’re not already aware of it, it basically refers to your specialism.
Some freelancers I know:
- Create user-friendly websites for SaaS brands
- Write marketing materials for dentists
- Create social media copy for musicians and record labels
- Write long-form blog posts for ecommerce SaaS brands
Okay, that last one is my niche 🙂
Niche can be boiled down to a simple formula:
Your Service + Who You Do It For = Your Niche
I.e. user-friendly websites (a service) + SaaS brands (the client), or marketing materials (service) + dentists (the client).
I have to admit, at the start of my freelance career, I was hesitant to pick a niche because I didn’t want to put myself out of a job. I wanted to have the freedom to say yes to anyone and any project without being confined to WHO I could work for and WHAT I could do for them.
In the end, this meant that I ended up doing a really broad mix of things for clients in pretty much every sector.
I wrote product descriptions for a leather bag company.
I created social media updates for a luxury villa in Ibiza.
I wrote blog posts for a water bottle company.
I mapped out email sequences for a personal trainer who sold online courses.
I wrote website copy for a realtor in Puerto Rico.
I basically did a bit of everything.
And, while I enjoyed some of the projects, there were far more that I did NOT enjoy. But the biggest downside was that I couldn’t make a name for myself doing anything because I didn’t do enough of any one thing.
I didn’t write enough social media copy to consider myself a social media expert. I only wrote for one leather bag company, so I could hardly be called a fashion guru.
You get the picture.
My website at the time was a mess because I didn’t want to limit myself, but I ended up turning off a ton of clients who couldn’t see the kind of value I could offer them.
Two years in, I focused my niche.
I’d landed a gig writing 2,000 word posts for a marketing company. The work was really fun and I realised I knew a ton about marketing from my pre-freelance days in the industry.
I put the project up on my portfolio and quickly landed another similar project.
Soon, my website was overflowing with examples like this and I had no shortage of work despite the very focused direction I’d taken.
In the end, niching down was the Best Thing I Ever Did for my business. It positioned me as an expert, gave me a lot of fodder for my portfolio, and it meant I could really focus on expanding my knowledge in a certain area.
Oh, and I got paid more too.
The more I was considered an expert, the more clients were willing to pay me for my services. There were literally no downsides (apart from I could no longer ask the luxury Ibiza client if I could stay in their villa for free…). You win some, you lose some.
Finding your niche is one thing, but what about a niche that gets stale? What if you get sick of doing the same thing for the same people for years on end?
The great thing about your niche is it doesn’t have to be forever.
Just like people change jobs, you can change your niche.
In fact, if you can answer YES to any of the following, it might be time to do just that:
- You no longer look forward to the projects you have on the go
- You’re struggling to find new clients
- You’re not hitting your yearly income goals
- You’re tempted to see if the grass is greener
Answering yes to any one of these means you’re well within your rights to experiment with a change of niche.
It can be daunting because it kind of feels like starting from scratch, but you can transform your business really quickly if you keep it simple and follow these steps:
- Identify that you need a niche switch up
- Evaluate your passions, interests, and experiences to figure out a good niche to move into
- Research your new niche to see if there’s potential (research other freelancers who work in that area to see the kind of projects they’re landing and the prices they’re charging — you can also reach out to them and ask how they’re finding it if you’re feeling particularly brave)
- Determine if it’s worth moving into this niche
- DO NOT give up your other niche just yet
- Create one or two samples for your new niche if you don’t already have some or do a small bit of work for a reduced rate for a prospect in your new niche
- Reach out to leads in your new niche and pitch them your services
- Swap out clients in your old niche for clients in your new niche
- Voila! In just a matter of months you’ll have switched up your niche entirely
Changing niche is a necessary part of life for most freelancers. In order to keep your brain fresh and the excitement bubbling it’s important that you dip your toes into new areas every now and again.
Remember: you can always come back if it doesn’t work out, but you’ll never know until you try. Sometimes the grass really is greener on the other side.