In freelance you don’t find your niche your niche finds you.
In the last month I’ve talked to 25 new freelancers who have been at this for several months and not yet cleared $1K.
And they all have this one thing in common.
They’re obsessed with finding their niche.
Their mentor or marketing books are telling them that they must know their niche, down to the number of hairs on their head before they can begin selling.
And you know what the result is?
Zero clients. And a whole lot of “I’ll start when…” paralyzation.
Now the crazy thing is the niche advice is generally speaking really good, safe advice. General business advice usually is. But freelancing isn’t general business by any means. If the United States is general business – freelancing is Texas. Don’t get me wrong, when it comes to coaches, consultants and eCommerce you must know who your peeps are right out of the gate. But for freelancers that solid “general” advice can actually hurt your new business.
Think of niche-narrowing for freelancers as a powerful supplement that everyone can take unless you’re prone to depression. Everyone else loves this supplement and they keep telling you to take it, except you’re prone to depression so when you take it your world doesn’t improve like your friends say – it actually gets worse.
THAT is what telling a new freelancer to focus on a niche does to their already barely-there business.
Freelance copywriters, designer, socialers, we’re in a fantastically unique position that we often squander away to make sure we’re doing the “right” thing. Our skills span all verticals. I always say that I can write awesome copy for a steakhouse or a whorehouse because I know what makes great copy tick.
When you’re first starting your business and you don’t have any clients, being versatile and concentrating on your craft (because in order to charge $$ you need to be damn good) will bring in all kinds of work. It will keep things interesting. It will keep money flowing in because you’re actually seeing opportunity and not saying no to money on the table, just because it doesn’t fit the little Hello My Name Is Tag that you’ve pre-assigned it.
You need clients.
You want clients.
You are saying no to a gazillion potential dollars, because they have blue eyes and not green. Because you want to only write in healthcare or finance or for solopreneurs.
This is not about lining all your ducks in a row before you begin. Besides things lined up perfectly in a row usually indicates someone’s getting executed – and this someone would be your infant business that you’re demanding to find it’s niche now.
In freelance niches are important – but they find YOU.
It looks something like this.
You’re open to what excites you. You pitch to where you know you’d be a great fit. You take opportunities that come your way. You have goals, but you stay open minded about where your money comes from.
You do some work in a variety of industries.
People in those industries start referring you, you become an “expert” and your niche(s) begin to form.
When you start pitching yourself as an “expert” in areas you must have something to back it up. You can’t be brand spankin’ new saying you’re an expert copywriter in healthcare – with zero experience to show for it. You’re shooting yourself twice in the same foot – no experience in where you call yourself an “expert” and you’ve severely narrowed your playing field by only looking for those opportunities.
Instead you pitch as someone who’s passionate, curious, interested and let your niche unfold.
People say to me a lot “so you think determining one’s niche is unimportant”?
For a newbie I think it’s practically useless.
For a seasoned vet, I think they’re the lifeline to a word of mouth business. However, I think of niches differently than most people. I have about 12. I pitch myself as a fashion expert when I’m talking fashion, a tech expert when I’m talking tech, a beauty buff when I’m talking to beauty clients. And the best part about this is that it’s truly the best of both worlds. I AM an expert in those areas because I started off by being open to any industry that had a budget and that I found interesting. That was my criteria. I made my craft the BEST I could possibly make it. I became a specialist by being a generalist. Not to mention the variety of my business kept me from playing in traffic 8 years ago from severe boredom that happens when you write the same thing every damn day.
A word of mouth, six-figure copywriting business that’s about to celebrate its tenth birthday.
Stop being rigid with all the rules before you jump in. Just jump.
Your niche WILL find you.
Ready to kick your freelance career off to an awesome start? Come hang out at The Six-Figure Freelancer for freelance-specific advice, tips, classes and coaching so you can stop struggling and start charging REAL rates.