Recruiter Skye Moffett recently stopped into a freelancing Facebook group to share her frustration with how consultants position themselves:
“my number one issue is coming across a LinkedIn bio that is incomplete or super vague. Stop. Doing. This. It is literally costing you money with each gig you lose out on.”
Resistance to niche-ing down is often fear-based. We think we’ll get more work if we can do many things. But when you tell me that you do too many things at once, I immediately think – you’re probably good at all of those things, but not great at any of them.
Having a niche doesn’t eliminate opportunities, it creates them. Whatever it is that you do, there are thousands of people also doing it. But if you have a specific niche in your industry:
- You are automatically perceived to be an expert in that area
- People know immediately if you are someone that could solve their particular problems (and if you are, the work will come much easier)
- People will have an automatic tendency to connect you with professional colleagues and prospects who are a great fit to work with you
A therapist recently introduced herself as a specialist in Impostor Syndrome. Suddenly she seemed completely differentiated from all of the other therapists out there. I wouldn’t hesitate to pass the connection on if someone needed it.
If you’re a generalist at heart, I get it, because I am too. Here’s the key – you can always expand your services with current clients once they know and trust your work. But if you want a successful freelance practice, you would be well-served to create a specific niche.
If you want help finding your ideal niche, you can get my guide to a freelance bio that sells here. It’s all about finding and expressing your niche in a way that attracts clients.
Read my most popular post, about Imposter Syndrome in freelancing, here.
One of my most popular posts is about the fear of approaching prospects. I get it, because I lived it. The fear of rejection is real.
What if I reframe this for you?
I belong to numerous freelancing groups, and rates are always a big discussion topic. Naturally. We all need a certain amount of money to live. None of us want to feel like we’re being taken advantage of.
As I see it, there are three routes to take with rates.
I interviewed several freelancers this month for a few side projects. Here’s what struck me.
“My client gets me to do all of the Joe jobs that no one else there wants. It’s way beneath my skillset.”
“My client told me my new rate is offensive.”
“My client is demanding more changes – unpaid.”
These are actual things freelancers have told me about long-time clients.
Do you relate to any of these?
If you do, here’s a bit of tough love. You don’t have a client. You have a boss.
Why do good freelancer/client relationships go bad?
This is the worst side of freelancing. The side where you have all the challenges of being an employee without any of the benefits (vacation time, sick days, health care benefits).
At some point, many long-time clients step over the line and ask for something that positions you more as an employee than as a freelancer.
It’s how you respond that paves the way for your future relationship.
If you’re an IT person, social media manager, designer, etc., you may feel concerned about the competition. There’s a lot of people who do what you do, why would anyone choose you over them?
In our mind, our competitors are always superstars with stellar resumes and tons of industry awards working with huge brands that bring incredible clout.
Just know, that’s often not the reality.
I think the scariest thing about going after new prospects is our internalized need for “permission”.
Many of us never leave behind the feeling of needing “permission” to do anything outside of our normal existence.
One of the topics I see covered most in freelancing groups is managing fear. Specifically, Imposter Syndrome.
Listen, if I had a successful system for overcoming fear, I’d be a trillionaire.
But that’s just it. Everybody is scared. No, like everybody. Except psychopaths.
You’re scared of putting yourself out there to speak with prospects. I get it. I literally couldn’t understand you better.
Here are two things to check in with yourself about:
The end of 2020 is finally in sight. While there are some good things on the horizon, that does not mean that 2021, particularly the first half of the year, is going to be cake. In fact, for most of us, the first several months will likely be a lot more of the same.
So this time, while we are still in relative quarantine but adjusted enough to re-focus on our careers, is the perfect point to assess your business and figure out what you can do to make it stronger.
How to make 2021 a great year as a freelancer
The good news about being a one-person show is that you are nimble, and can make decisions and act on them quickly. This means that you can get a lot accomplished before quarantine ends. Here are a few thought starters.
Relationships are the best and the toughest part of the human experience. What can start out incredibly promising can go many different and sometimes unexpected ways. We’ve all had relationships end messily and wonder what went wrong and where we could have changed course.
Professional relationships are no different. The client we were over the moon to land can over time become the reason we’re loathe waking up in the morning. It’s important to be service-oriented and flexible, but there may be a point in your career when ending a professional relationship can’t be avoided.