June 11, 2019
Reader question from Christian Lüdemann
Sent by Jonathan Stark on June 12th, 2019
List member Christian Lüdemann wrote in to ask (shared with permission):
Hi Jonathan, I just bought your book The Freelancers Roadmap and I have a question about the niche down part. I am currently a freelancer with the tagline: “I help companies create Angular apps efficiently through training, consulting and recruitment” It seems that you often have software developers target specific industries such as “I help dentists getting more customers...”. Do you think my focus is too broad/not enough focus on a specific set of customers? I am currently making 20-30 k a month, so it is not that I am not getting clients, but I might get more success with more narrow specialization. Thanks.
Thanks for your question CL!
This touches on a bunch of topics, so here are my thoughts in no particular order:
- When people ask me how focused is focused enough, I ask them, “How many leads are you getting per month?” If the answer is less than ten or so, I say, “You’re probably not focused enough.” The flip side is that if you’re getting lots of leads every month, then it’s likely that you’re focused enough and don’t need to niche down.
- Niching down on Angular is what I would call a platform specialization. It’s like a horizontal specialization in that you’re presenting yourself as an expert with a particular tool, BUT with a platform specialization your ideal buyer is aware of the tool in question (and probably had some say in picking it). The benefit of a platform specialization is that you get to piggyback on top of all the marketing that the platform owner is doing. The downside of a platform specialization is that your fortune rises and falls with the platform. Eventually, they all fall out of favor.
- Training and recruitment (and in some cases, consulting) are typically purchased on a value basis rather than a time and materials / hourly basis. In other words, they are NOT trading time for money and therefore can be extremely profitable.
- For a generalist (e.g., full stack developer, web designer, professional photographer, copywriter) who isn’t getting enough leads and doesn’t have a clue about marketing, the easiest thing to do is to pick a target market. The target market could be defined is a bunch of different ways. Here are some common ones:
- Vertical (e.g., dentists)
- Demographic (e.g., 40-45 year old males)
- Psychographic (e.g., environmentalists)
- Behavioral (e.g., Whole Food shoppers)
- Geographic (e.g., businesses in Chicago)
Being very specific about who you’re trying to reach can increase referrals, build trust, and differentiate from competitors while allowing you to still be a generalist from a skillset standpoint.
If you’re currently doing well with a platform specialization but are concerned that the gravy train might be slowing down, here’s what I would do: Experiment with a few different XY Positioning Statements. An XYPS is a platform agnostic way of articulating the results that you deliver to a particular target market. It would not necessarily require that you change what you do… you’d just change how you talk about what you do.
I hope that helps!