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How to Find Your Freelance Specialty

Original article posted by Amber on freelancefolder.com

How to Find Your Freelance Specialty

There have been several debates on whether or not you should specialize your services. It’s almost as heated as a debate as whether or not you should charge hourly or project rates.

However, I firmly believe that specializing my services and clientele was what really allowed my own business to take off and succeed.

Being a Generalist

Before I specialized, I tried to do everything from consulting to design to development, backend programming, SEO and copywriting. I targeted every and any kind of client, not caring if they were a large or small business, agency or single entrepreneur.

I quickly found myself in a predicament. First-off, I was not busy at all. I barely had any work coming in. Also, the work I did have coming in really sucked. The budgets sucked, the project ideas sucked and the type of required of me sucked. I hated design, SEO, copywriting and anything not related to front-end development.

I finally decided on a risky move–I wanted to specialize both my services and the kinds of clients I would work with. I would only offer front-end development and WordPress services only to agencies, freelancers and designers.

This move was risky because it seems logical that by narrowing your field of clients and services, that your narrowing your chance for work. However, it only increased my work!

Why You Should Specialize

So why should you specialize? Basically, no matter how much you learn, it’s impossible to be great at everything. And to be a really successful freelancer, you have to be great at what you do.

Specializing allows you to become an expert in your field. You’re also more likely to be perceived as one by potential clients. Just by offering front-end dev and WordPress work, I became known to my clients as “the” WordPress expert.

Specializing also allows you to focus on honing your skills and is easier to keep up with new developments. This allows you to quickly become better at what you do than the generalist.

How To Specialize Your Services

In order to specialize, you need to decide on two things:

  • What you’re really good at
  • What you really enjoy doing

Normally, the answer to those two questions is the same, but not always. If not, I suggest going with the work you really enjoy doing, as you’ll eventually become better at it the more you practice. After all, you did go into business for yourself in order to do the work you really loved, right?

How to Specialize Your Clients

Specializing your clients is equally, if not more, important as specializing your services. Deciding what type of clients you want to work with will make you happier in the long run and will increase the effectiveness of your marketing. It’s much more effective to get your message to 10 perfect-fitting clients than to get your message to 500 clients who won’t work for you.

So, how do you choose who you want to work with? Ask yourself:

  • What type of services are you now offering?
  • What kinds of clients are the ones who’d need those services?
  • What is your ideal working relationship and which clients from above would fit that idea?

You Just Need Time

Just remember, as with every other kind of marketing effort, it will take some time for clients to notice that you have specialized. Just remember, if specializing doesn’t work for you, you can always go back to offering everything to everyone, but I seriously doubt that will happen.

Your Thoughts

Have you specialized your services or clientele? How did it work out for you?

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My name is Justin St. Germain, and I'm a full time PHP Web Developer / Graphic Designer born and raised in Arizona. I have over 8 years of experience with PHP and MySQL, and over 10 years of graphic design experience. Follow me on Twitter here.

One Response to “How to Find Your Freelance Specialty”

  1. Wow, great article! I agree, you don’t have to over-specialize. But narrowing down the subjects really does help.

    In my case, I like user interface design/front-end/back-end development+cms theming/developing. Since cms are web applications, they fit right into what I do nicely.

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