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Niches as a freelancer and how to find yours

Chris Hufnagel Avatar

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Should you niche as a freelancer, or should you not? That is the question! In my experience, freelancers that niche can survive and prosper while creating a more sustainable business than someone that does not niche.

Define Niche “A small section of the market for a particular kind of product or service”

Pick a niche where you like the people that you will be serving. You will spend a lot of time with this audience, so be sure that you enjoy their company.

Freelancing becomes simpler when you select a niche.

But most freelancers don’t approach it in the right way. When it comes to niche selection, most freelancers make one of these mistakes:

  1. Not doing it.
  2. Going too broad or too specific.
  3. Selecting based on financial gains
  4. Lack of domain knowledge.

As more people escape the 9-5 and become freelancers, niching is a way to stand out.

So let’s dive in and help you find that niche.

Why Niching is important

By niching, you are saying “no” to many potential customers. But that is ok. You can not be something for everyone.

When you are clear on who you serve and how you help them, the right clients find you and your own branding gets easier.

Even though you have a niche, it does not mean you can not serve other audiences.

Not every client that you have will be from your niche. That is ok. You can still serve other audiences even if they are outside your niche. In order to retain integrity to your niche marketing and so you can build out case studies, it would be ideal to have 50% or more of your projects be from within your niche.

What makes a good niche?

As you set out on your quest to find your niche, you probably want to know what you are looking for. What are the characteristics of a good niche?

Here are the factors that you need to keep in mind:

  1. Audience size – Do some research to see how many people are in this niche. Look on social media; are lots of people talking about it? Does a subreddit exist? Can you find multiple Facebook groups with 1,000+ members?
  2. Has a technical problem – As digital creators, we make our money by solving someone’s problem with pixels and code. If this niche does not rely heavily on technology or would need too much education to get them to adopt, it is not a good niche.
  3. Is profitable – Does money flow through this niche? Is the target audience growing? Shrinking? Does the niche make money?
  4. Do you like these people – While money is important, do not choose your niche solely based on money. I have seen too many developers build tools for realtors because a lot of money flows through that niche, but they do not like working with realtors. I like to use the whiskey test – Would I like to grab a drink with a random person from this target audience and hear about their business? If the answer is no, then jump out!
  5. Bonus: Domain knowledge – When you select a niche, you will provide technical services. However, it is even better if you know the industry. As an example, I did some work in the restaurant industry. They brought me in to solve technical problems, but I also knew the industry from my years as a waiter and restaurant manager. I knew the industry lingo and the problems they faced.

Ways to niche

There are many ways that you can approach a niche. It should not only be focused on industry. You can find the “really good” niches by combining a few parameters.

The sweet spot is when you can connect all three. Be the solution for a specific industry that uses a particular technology while in a specific phase of business.

For example:

If someone fits that description and needs a new online ordering platform, they will probably choose the provider that targets them specifically.

Find your people!

This is my approach and thought process around niching as a freelancer. It is what worked for me. Knowing who I helped, I could quickly filter if a client was a good fit for me.

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