3. Who am I competing with?
While there might be hundreds or even thousands of people with the same job title as yours, there won’t be many with the exact same experience, skill set and personality. Besides, healthy competition in your niche is nothing to worry about, it only proves that you made a good choice. You should only be concerned if nobody else successfully offers similar services to yours.
Once you get to know your competitors, figuratively and literally, you might even realise that there isn’t as much competition out there as you first thought. Everyone’s story is unique and yours could even give you a competitive advantage – but that’s something you’ll only find out by networking and connecting with others. Join groups, go to events and exchange with others in your field, it’s the best way to stay informed. Over time, some of your competitors might become your friends and you can pass each other job opportunities when the other person isn't available or not the perfect fit.
It’s no surprise that the term personal branding has seeped into everyone’s vocabulary in the past years. Personality plays a huge role in business and self-promotion has become an invaluable tool for freelancers. It's what makes you stand out from competitors – because nobody will hire someone they don’t like on a personal level. Catering to a niche audience can be part of that branding, as your name will be associated with a certain industry and what it stands for. In an ideal world, your network and clients will recommend you to others within the industry because they like both your work and your personality.
It’s a long-term process, albeit a rewarding one
The transition from being a generalist to a specialist won’t happen overnight but it helps to have a goal in mind. Once you’ve managed to work for your first dream client, it’s likely that similar companies will hire you again. With persistence, patience and some luck you’ll land more jobs, bringing you closer to becoming an expert in your niche.
While a niche is something that’s defined, it doesn’t have to be set in stone. Professions like copywriting, graphic and web design are ever-changing and demand a certain level of flexibility from those who want to stay relevant, which is why it makes sense to focus on a niche: it won’t get boring. By knowing what you want to spend more time on and what you’d rather not do in the future, you’ll find it easier to react to – or even anticipate – changes in your niche market.
There’s no guarantee that you’ll get rich by finding your niche but it can be very rewarding. Working on projects that genuinely excite you, and dealing with clients whose personal interests and beliefs align with yours, is what freelance dreams are made of – no matter if you’re a generalist or a specialist. The chances are high though that if you focus on something you’re passionate about, you’ll also do a better job.