Have you ever thought about niching your design business? When done right, it's a great way to stand out from other graphic designers and win more clients.
The problem is, it's pretty scary! Saying no to most people in order to say yes to a few is daunting, to say the least.
But it can be life-changing for your business.
In this masterclass, I talk with special guest, Devan Danielle, about how to choose a niche for your design business. Watch the video below or continue reading to learn WHY you need a niche, how to find it, and how niching has done wonders for both of our businesses.
- Why should you choose a niche? (5:12)
- Switching from a 'freelance' mindset to a 'business owner' mindset (9:50)
- Using your niche to help you stand out from your competition (12:16)
- How to find your niche when you're just starting out (16:15)
- Is it possible to niche too much? (19:32)
- How to transition into your new niche (22:25)
- How to make money while you transition into your new niche (27:06)
- What to do if your niche has no money (29:14)
- How to specialize in a different visual style to what you've been offering (32:20)
- How to find out if the niche you're interested in is profitable (35:17)
- How to find clients from your new niche (39:39)
- How to niche without losing business (43:01)
- OWN your niche (52:55)
Quotes From Devan
"Once you figure out your niche, OWN it. Don't dance around it."
"When you find your niche, your content and services will be easier to create because you're creating with a specific niche in mind."
"Niching will help you get really clear on what you do and who you help so you can attract more dream clients."
"When you niche, you move from a freelance mindset to a business owner mindset. And when you're a business owner, YOU tell the client what you help them with."
Quotes From Nesha
"If you want to charge more and work with premium clients but your current target market can't afford what you want to charge, you need to change your target market."
"Your niche is not a forever thing. If you try working with a certain niche and realize you don't like it, it's okay to shift your niche."
"When you niche, remember to delete irrelevant blog posts. All your blog posts should now focus on your new niche."
What is this masterclass about?
This month's masterclass is called 'How To Niche Your Design Business.' My cohost, Devan Danielle, is a personal branding coach. She’s a total pro at helping you figure out WHO you should be targeting and HOW to stand out from your competitors.
Now, on to the written summary!
Why should you choose a niche?
You should be able to tell people what you do and who you do it for in ONE simple sentence.
Niching will help you get clear on what you do and who you help so you can attract more dream clients and do more of the things you love to do. Instead of doing 'all the things' for everyone, niching allows you to focus on what you're good at and do more of it.
Niching is the fastest way to win clients because clients almost always prefer to hire a specialist over a generalist.
Example time! If a client wanted to hire someone to redesign their Squarespace website, would they choose the designer that designs for Squarespace, Wordpress, Wix and everything else? Or would they choose the designer whose portfolio is only filled with awesome Squarespace websites? Of course, they'd choose the latter.
Switching from a 'freelancer' mindset to a 'business owner' mindset
We all start out as freelancers and freelancers do the work our clients ask us to do. But when you change your mindset from 'freelancer' to 'business owner', you go from doing what YOU'RE told to do to telling the client what you do. As a business owner, YOU can set the price and YOU can tell your audience what you're going to help them with.
How to find your niche when you're just starting out
Think about past clients you loved working with. What was it about them that you loved? Were they in a specific niche? Were they male or female? What services did you need?
Reflecting on what you love doing the most and who you love working with will help you choose a niche.
Is it possible to niche too much?
The biggest fear people have around niching is niching too much and not being able to find clients in that niche. But here's the thing: it's virtually impossible to niche too much! Even if you choose to only work with a small niche such as yoga studios, how many yoga studios are there around the world? There are THOUSANDS! There's no way you'll get through all of them and run out of clients.
Feel the fear and do it anyway. It's almost impossible to niche too much. And even if you choose a niche and it doesn't work out for you, you don't have to stick to that niche. There is nothing wrong with changing your niche if you've tried it for a while and it doesn't work.
The best way to analyze if the niche you're interested in will be profitable and successful is to look for others who have chosen it as their niche. If there are one or two others who have had great success with it, you know you can too.
How to transition into your new niche
The first thing you need to do is rework your brand messaging. Figure out your who, where, what and why.
Who are you now targeting? Where are they? What do they do, and what do you do? Why are you targeting these people and offering this service?
Once you're clear on your new brand message, alter your website copy and change all your social media bios.
Send an email out to your newsletter list announcing your new change so they're kept in the loop. If they don't realize you've changed your niche, they won't know how you can now help them. If you don't tell your current community about your change, you'll miss out on potential clients.
Finally, go through your blog posts and unpublish any that aren't related to your new niche. Your blog should be centered around your niche and the topics they are interested in. People should be able to tell what you do and who you do it for simply by reading your blog posts!
What to do if your niche has no money
Find a new target market. For you to run a profitable business, you need a profitable target market. If your current niche can't pay you very much for your services, find a similar market that can.
If you're passionate about handling a specific service or working with a specific niche of people but they can't afford to pay you, take on these types of projects occasionally as pro bono projects! This will allow you to run a profitable business while still doing what you love or helping people you truly want to help.
How to specialize in a different visual style to what you've been offering
Start designing in that style and filling your portfolio with work in that style. To find clients you can design for in this style may be hard initially because your portfolio won't yet be filled with work that resonates with them. So, reach out to three people and ask them if you could design something in your new design style for them! You could do this at a very discounted rate in exchange for the work you can put in your portfolio and a raving testimonial.
Alternatively, you could continue to work with your usual clients but don't put their work in your portfolio. Instead, spend some time on evenings and weekends making up projects in your new design style! You can add it to your portfolio as long as you state the work wasn't done for a real client.
Finally, make sure your own website is designed in the style you want to attract.
How to niche without losing business
Some designers want to niche in on a specific service, like brand design, but fear that they'll lose business to designers who offer the full package.
Here's a simple fix: partner with another designer. If you focus on brand design, find a designer who focuses on web design and collaborate with each other! This will allow you to focus on doing what you love and what you're best at, while also not losing business.
Your Execution Plan
Homework 01 - Find you niche
Think about past clients you loved working with and answer these questions:
- What was it about them that you loved?
- Were they in a specific niche?
- Were they male or female?
- What services did you complete for them?
- Was it the work you enjoyed, or the person you worked with? (This will help you determine if you should niche in on WHO you work with or WHAT you offer.)
Homework 02 - Rewrite your brand statement
After you figure out what your niche is, it's time to rewrite your brand statement. A brand statement is a few sentences that explain what you do, who you do it for, how you help them and why you help them.
Use this script to write your new brand statement:
My name is _______ and I help _______ with _______. I believe your _______ should _______ and I can help you achieve that through _______.
Example: My name is Nesha and I help freelance brand & web designers grow and streamline their businesses. I believe your business should be profitable, not just creative. I help you achieve that through training in my courses, ebooks and member's club.
Homework 03 - Identify where to find clients from this niche
Once you choose a niche, you just have to figure out how to find them! The best place to find them is on social media sites like Facebook. Use the Facebook search bar to look for groups of potential clients by searching keywords related to them.
For example, if you're looking for groups of photographers, you'd search for 'photographers' or 'wedding photography' to find related groups.
Join these groups and network genuinely. Finding clients in Facebook groups is all about having conversations and offering lots of free value, not promoting yourself all the time and always talking about your services. (You can learn more about Facebook marketing in my ebook, Social Splash.)