Niche is the term used for a product or services that interest’s a smaller group of people. As a freelancer, it is essential to find your freelancing niche.
Being a freelancer, it took me almost a decade to find my niche in freelancing; I am still open to moving to narrow down the niche or move to other niches altogether.
What is Niche Freelancing?
Niche (pronounced as NICH) is the term used for a product or services that interest’s a smaller group of people.
As a freelancer, it is crucial to find your niche. Niche freelancers have less to no competition. The main reason for positioning the product or services such that it is for a smaller group of people is to reduce the competition.
The selection of niche for the product or services is critical and based on the factor – Less competition with large enough market to market their product or services.
Any product in any industry has an ideal customer in mind. The segment of such customer is a niche for that product.
As an example, BMW cars aren’t for everyone and it for a set of customers. So BMW cars target a niche of high net-worth individuals.
Similarly, Rolex watches aren’t for everybody either.
I am taking a leaf out of them for developers. A PHP developer, focusing only on PHP frameworks or PHP CMSes is a way to narrow down on the freelancing niche.
As a developer, when you create a niche, you keep the competition out of the equation to provide a unique proposition for your product or services.
Why Niche Freelancing?
You may have heard the quote “Jack of all trades, master of none”.
It is vital to find a niche. The reason being, it is not about being a jack of everything, but a master at something.
I always like to go deep rather than go wide and try to create a super niche within the niche.
If you are new to freelancing, don’t be overwhelmed by freelance niche. It took me almost a decade to get to niche expertise.
How to Find the Right Freelance Niche?
I started my freelancing career as a PHP developer. I was trying to find anything and everything in PHP because I thought the more projects I can apply the better chances of me getting them. My first client was a custom PHP project.
Slowly I narrowed it down to a super niche like vBulletin and then moved over to Xenforo and now from Xenforo to only Xenforo development and I don’t work on Xenforo design anymore.
So the question is how you can find your super niche and what are the steps you should be following to get to a super niche.
- Start with a slightly broader niche. Try to show clients you know and have done similar to what they need.
- As you move along, you will have work coming from one section of the niche. Narrow down further on the kind of work you take. Try to be an expert in the area you have started working.
- Niche is not something that you start as a freelancer, but it is what you end up with overtime.
At least that is how it worked for me.
Understand your expertise and passion?
It is about doing whatever you love.
If you are not able to find what you love, start working for someone else for a couple of years to find what you want to be doing. Hop over a few jobs to try a few options. It will expand your worldview, and you will have a lot more options to choose your passion.
When I was in college, I was looking for C++ programming because it is something I loved back then but as a freelancer has not compiled a single C++ program in the last few years. You can read about my job to freelancer’s journey on my about page in detail.
When I worked in various technologies in all my different jobs, it helped me realize it is not about C++. It is about my worldview of knowing very few programming languages back then and among them I liked C++.
No one can know what is his passion unless he tries a few of them.
If you don’t try, you will select a passion from what you have already worked on as your worldview is very limited.
I found myself what I love and more importantly, what I don’t like as well. I can’t make a pixel-perfect design. It doesn’t mean I didn’t do those stuff because if I would not have done it, I may not realize if I like it or not.
Expertise and Passion Change Overtime
At times, we become rigid about our passion but remember you are not married to your passion and so it’s ok to be changing your expertise and passion over time.
You aren’t married to your passion. So it’s ok if your passion changes over time.
I have moved from C++ to PHP to CMSes like vBulletin, WordPress, Xenforo. I also love the marketing aspect of my site, like SEO and Social Media, to study the company’s balance sheets and to invest in the equity market, and the latest is blogging and writing.
Marketing is not something I do for clients and do consult because you cannot just measure and justify the efforts you put in marketing. Could be because I don’t know how to measure marketing efforts.
I loved the technical analysis aspect of trading, but as my portfolio grew over time, I tried investing, and now I love evaluating business and the company’s balance sheets.
Can Companies Work in a Niche?
An Individual freelancer can work in niche technology, CMS, or framework where the expertise of the individual in a niche can help get freelance work fairly easily on freelancing sites.
Can the same be said for companies who hire other people to get the job done?
Companies recruit people to get the job done and the obvious choice of a niche for companies is broad in nature like Web Development or Web Design or WordPress Developer but as an individual, you can always choose a micro-niche.
Niche is the biggest asset of an individual freelancer on a freelancing site like Upwork as it helps them grow and become experts in niches.
The question is can a company be formed when working in niche technologies where the amount of work is low and can they find enough talent to get this work completed?
I believe so. The choice of niches can be small but it still needs to have a growing interest over time.
The hiring can be done for the broad niche but then one can channel the talent into the niche within the broad niche. As an example, a PHP developer can always be trained to work in any PHP framework for sure.
Once the company has the right niche, it can always hire people to be working on such niche technology which may be built on a broader topic where they have ample people for hire.
Start with something that you think you love now. It is perfectly acceptable to move to something else even when you don’t like it. You can always fall in love with what you are doing if things are the way you want it.