When people start freelancing, it’s common that they’ll try to expand their market as wide and as far as possible — all in the hope of catching more clients.
I know I’m guilty of that. What started as a web design business, soon turned into offering all sorts of imaginable services small business website owners could possibly ask me for. I became an full service shop thinking that I’ll have more clients just because I can serve their needs from start to infinity. I was convinced that this was the best way to increase my clientele and my income. Only recently, have I understood that this “more mentality”, however logical, isn’t really working for me.
Today, I think that best freelancers are those who narrow their focus to become best at one thing instead of good an everything. This focus gives them the ability to become experts in their niche and increase their income.
Here is where you should narrow your focus:
We all have certain talents we started off with. But when clients ask for more, we give them more. Web designers are now experts in SEO. Everyone has a Twitter account, so why not offer social media marketing.
All I wanted to do when I started was designing websites. This was what I’ve always enjoyed most. It still takes effort to say no to clients who are asking for website marketing, as an example, something that brings in good money but not much satisfaction. Since I enjoy designing, I also love to develop my skills in that area. This focus allows me to improve and grow much more effectively.
Pick your specialty and become an expert in that area.
Your Traffic Source
Just as I suggest offering a narrower range of services, we could all benefit from narrowing our marketing efforts. Most of us make a mistake of focusing on as many traffic / client sources as possible. We spread ourselves thin blogging, Twittering, posting on forums and everywhere else in between.
Yet, the most successful freelances / businesses focus on one area, one traffic source and live comfortably from that. Their focus allows them a better chance of becoming good at that particular area, then becoming an expert and growing a wider audience. Figure out one marketing channel you have a chance of dominating and concentrate on that.
Take a good look at your client base. There’s a good chance that you’ll have a large number of clients that cause no problems and count for the majority of your income. On the other hand, there is probably a few of them who account for a small part of your income, but take up most of your time.
Instead of focusing on getting as many clients as possible, concentrate on getting quality clients. Depending on your business and tolerance level, aside from other factors, you need to think of your clients in term of maximizing profits while minimizing efforts.
I am still learning this one. Just today, I’ve caught myself responding to yet another technical question from a business owner who isn’t even my client yet. After counting, it turned out this was my 10th email to that particular person. And the last one.
How many of us struggle with managing our time well? Distractions are everywhere, from tweets, irrelevant emails, interesting blogs to industry news. We waste our time doing all these things that are not productive and don’t bring us any money.
Focus on the task at hand. Have a weekly / daily task list and stick with it. Start the day with work that you are actually getting paid for and allow some downtime only when you are finished. Use your time effectively and you will find that you conduct more business, thus increase your income.
Narrowing your focus takes some conscious effort. Keeping a focus also helps within the industry, because you can become specialized rather then simply diluting the pool.