Becoming a specialist in any field can be scary. The immediate worry is that, especially as a freelancer, you'll lose clients if you go too niche or concentrate too much on specific projects. Even as a fulltimer, it can feel really limiting to say you're a Visual Designer who specializes in consumer-facing mobile apps or a Copywriter who writes for social media. And yes, it is a real possibility that specializing might mean you're not the right candidate for some companies, don’t get us wrong. BUT the benefits can outlast the clients you lose or jobs you don't land. Long story short? Going niche can be a great thing for your entire career. Here are a few reasons why…
Going niche strengthens your own brand and drive
Having a focus makes you stand out in a crowded marketplace. It means that when people talk about a certain type of project or job, as long you do it well, you'll be their first choice. The trick is that you’ll really need to spend time figuring out what you want to do. A good first step is to assess the projects you've done in your career that you love and want to do again. Why did you love that project? Was it the industry or the team or the specific work? How can you make this specialty uniquely for you? How can you connect the type of work you want to do and the specific clients you want to work with? Asking yourself these questions can help you define your brand and your niche focus. This is not to say your focus needs to be this same one specialty forever (switching careers and specialties is always an option later) but for this moment, get specific and watch yourself win. Don't forget, you can also charge a bit more as a specialist! Your skills are in demand and the talent pool will be smaller. Don’t be afraid to get paid what you deserve for the specialized work you do.
You’ll work with like-minded companies
Being a jack of all trades tends to confuse a lot of companies, especially the most successful ones. From a staffing agency perspective, your portfolio may easily show that you're a talented designer but if you've worked on everything from video editing for a sports company to branding a small business to UI for a startup, it's hard to tell what projects will make you shine in your next target job. Companies understand the importance of honing their specific brand—and they want to work with professionals who are capable of that same precision. The biggest companies (that most people list as their goal employers) mostly hire very talented people for very specific jobs - not to do a little bit of everything. By following that lead and owning your niche, you will set yourself apart from every other creative they’re interviewing. Plus, it stands to reason that going niche ensures that you’ll be working on the type of work that makes you happiest.
You'll learn the major players and network easily
Once you've decided that your goal is a specific role in a specific industry, really get to know the struggles and the challenges those companies are dealing with. Attend virtual lessons and conventions that interest you when possible. Join niche groups on LinkedIn, Facebook Groups and on other social media platforms for your industry. You’ll feel more confident in your own work and be able to anticipate what’s next easier when you’re in a like-minded community. By knowing and being an active part of an industry, you'll network more naturally, land jobs easier, and be able to preform better once you do. Instead of having to learn all the major competitors and the industry news when you start a new job, you'll come into the role immediately understanding the landscape. From the jump, you'll be able to contribute to existing projects and bring ideas to the table. There’s nothing firmer for your career than knowing yourself and putting yourself first, though. Let the rest follow!
You’ll easily know where you’ve been—and what’s next
Strengthening your specialty has more benefits in the long-run, too. If you’re doing what you love while keeping on top of the latest hard skills and soft skills in your industry, you’ll be able to see what’s ahead for your niche. For example, if you notice that your job as a UX designer is pulling you toward working and whiteboarding in Figma, take classes and stay on top of the software’s improvements and add-ons. Attend industry meetings and conferences (Like Inbound or AIGA or SXSW). Think about those senior leaders or experienced consultants you've worked with. Almost all of them have been in a certain type of role for a specific industry for years or even decades. This level of industry knowledge and experience is what lands them those promotions and allows them to innovate and build projects from the ground up.
If you’re looking for a new position or just need some great career advice, please reach out! Our recruiters can help you determine a good fit with companies we work with on the daily.