Making it big as a freelance designer can be tough. Between the expenses of staying up-to-date with the latest tools and the added stress of competing with stock logo sites or crowdsource designers it’s enough to make you want to quit some days.
Have you ever wondered what steps you can take as a freelance designer to help yourself stand out from the competition and bring in more design clients and profit than ever before? Then keep reading, because I’m about to share one amazing tip that took my freelance design business from an insignificant hobby to a thriving business.
It’s all in the niche
Marketers have been screaming this for decades: success is found in the niche. What’s a niche? Put simply, it’s your specialization. It’s the one thing that, as a freelance designer, you’re exceptionally good at. It’s the one thing you try to be better at than any of your competition.
And that means it’s what clients seek you out for.
Yes, you heard me right
Once I adopted the simple idea of finding my niche and exploiting it, I had clients coming to me–something I never even imagined was possible as a freelance designer.
And I have to tell you, after years of searching out and cold-calling clients only to be rejected over half the time, seeing clients reach out to me was a breath of fresh air.
You can do it to. Here’s how:
Finding your specialty
Finding your specialty isn’t all that hard. It’s what you really excel at.
If you’re really good at logo design, specialize in logos.
If you’re really good at web design, that’s your specialty.
It’s not rocket science.
The key to success, however, is not necessarily in identifying your specialty, but exploiting it; using it to your advantage.
Specialty + Positioning = Profit
Once you’ve figured out your specialty, it’s time to work on your positioning.
Positioning (a common marketing term) is, simply put, how you want your audience to think of you.
If your specialty is, for example, designing killer business cards, your positioning would be “the designer who understands the ins and outs of successful business cards and delivers a great one every time.”
The best part about positioning? You get to pick it! You get to decide what you want your future clients to think about you. Then this becomes the central idea of all your marketing.
All of it!
Once you start to think of yourself this way, it’s only a matter of time before your clients think of you the same way.
Soon, you’ll have clients knocking down your door just to have their new business card designed by you! (“After all,” they’ll say, “you are the best.”
This won’t happen overnight
I have to offer a fair word of warning. This kind of recognition and success won’t come overnight.
It probably won’t even come within a week or two.
And it won’t come without a lot of hard work and smart marketing on your part.
But it will come–mark my words.
If you stick to it, choose a specialty, and then position yourself as an expert in whatever niche you choose, you’ll see success sooner rather than later.
Aren’t I losing potential clients?
Every time I share this principle with aspiring freelance designers, I get the same question: “Aren’t I missing out on other clients by specializing in a certain niche?”
The answer is yes.
Well, sort of.
The answer is: yes, you’ll be missing out on a few clients here or there. But in the long run, you’ll bring in more clients who ask you to design what you really love. It will take time and it will be hard, but you can do it. And if you do, I promise you’ll see the same kind of success I saw with it.
And finding a specialty doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to stop designing anything outside of your chosen niche.
Let your specialty be an easy entry for clients. When they come to you for logo design, make an amazing logo (because that’s your specialty). When they love the logo, upsell them by offering to use their new logo to design stationery, brochures, a web site or stickers.
Make your specialty the reason they come to you and your design skills the reason they stay with you.
One last piece of advice
If you’re going to take my recommendations seriously (and I suggest you do) then I have one more piece of advice.
If you want to be really successful–and I mean really successful as a freelance designer–go one step further and find a superniche.
See, the niche of web design is full. There’s millions of us out there that design web sites.
Logo design niche? Full.
Print design niche? Full too.
Most of your basic niches are full to the top with designers good and bad.
So if you really want to see this concept flourish, find a superniche. What’s a superniche? It’s a niche that as specific as you can get.
Instead of specializing in “web design” try positioning yourself as “the designer who creates websites in under a week” or “the designer who creates web sites even non-coders can edit” – by being even more specific in your specialty, you’ll see more and more success.
Find your Superniche
If you’re having a hard time finding a good niche that you fit into, take a look at “Finding your design niche: 70 ideas to get your started.”
I wish you the best of luck in your specialty-finding endeavors. Leave a comment on this post and let me know what specialty you’re going to try and tackle! I’d love to hear what you have to say!