Generalist vs. Specialist: Why Freelancers Must Narrow Their Focus And Choose A Niche

Learn how a niche can accelerate the growth of your freelance business and discover how a clear niche makes marketing, lead generation, and sales easier.

Freelancers need niche and target market

Imagine you’re a doctor finally pursuing the dream of starting your own medical practice and you need a website. You research web designers online and find two local website design agencies that look promising. One is a generalist who sells “results-driven websites” and the other is a designer who specializes in “websites for health and wellness professionals.”

Which option is more likely to win your business?

  • The generalist who isn’t the obvious best choice for anyone and has to hustle constantly to make new sales…
  • Or the specialist who is the obvious best choice for an entire market and has new clients seeking them out?

I’m guessing your answer is the specialist, which poses less risk and sounds more appealing because their message is tailored to you, a health and wellness professional. Working with someone who specializes in your industry or type of business, who gets you, and understands your unique needs feels like a safer and smarter decision.

Generalists Vs. Specialists

It is difficult for a generalist marketing to anyone and everyone to create effective marketing campaigns, capture the attention of prospective clients, and craft content that resonates with prospective buyers on an emotional level. Marketing to everyone makes your audience do all the work to figure out if you’re the right choice.

Because generalists have to work harder at attracting new clients, they have to spend more time, effort, and money on lead generation and client attraction.

On the other hand, a specialist marketing to a specific niche or target audience can create targeted marketing campaigns that deeply resonate with their audience, capture their attention, and persuade them to take the next step. When marketing to a niche, the marketer or business owner is doing all of the work to communicate exactly who is a perfect fit for the offer.

Because specialists have more clarity about who they serve, what they do, and the results they create, lead generation and client attraction is easier and faster, which means it takes less time, effort, and money.

When you stop trying to broadly market to everyone, and instead, narrow your focus and choose a niche, it also becomes easier for others to send you referrals and new business because they know exactly what type of clients you want and what type of businesses you can best help.

The Myth About Choosing A Niche

The idea of narrowing your focus and choosing a niche for your freelance business can be scary, especially if you’re already struggling to win clients and land new business. It can also feel incredibly limiting, which doesn’t really make sense if you don’t have enough clients. Luckily, that fear comes from thinking about niching the wrong way.

Choosing a niche doesn’t limit who you can and can’t work with, it doesn’t alienate potential clients or turn interested people away, and it certainly doesn’t take away potential opportunities. What a niche does is position you as the best choice.

Think of the client attraction process as a game of darts.

In the game of darts, the bullseye (center circle) is worth the most points and each area around the bullseye is some other lower amount of points. While a player always aims for the bullseye to earn the highest score, points are still earned when a dart hits the other spaces.

In client attraction, marketing to your niche is just like playing darts.

Marketing to a niche is like always aiming for the bullseye — and targeting that perfect client or project. When you put your message out there, however, it may also resonate with those who aren’t in your niche and you can still work with them if you want to.

The Reality Of Choosing A Niche

Defining a niche isn’t meant to limit your options — it’s simply meant to focus your message and marketing so you can:

  • Deliver the right message
  • To the right person
  • At the right time

When you lead with a niche offer, it makes it easy for prospects to say “I need that” and hire you, but that doesn’t mean you can’t offer other services as well.

For example, at my agency Bourn Creative, our focus and marketing efforts are centered around selling custom WordPress website builds and development retainers for large-scale existing WordPress websites. But we’re a full-service agency at heart. So while we lead with the WordPress work to get clients in the door, we are able to support our clients even further by providing a complete menu of design services.

Choosing a niche for your freelance business also isn’t something you have to stick with forever:

  • Your niche is a focused tool to help you connect with prospects and get new clients in the door. It doesn’t mean you have to turn people away who don’t align with your niche.
  • Your niche is flexible. As you grow and evolve as a business owner, your niche may also grow and evolve with you. Or if you find that a niche isn’t working out, change it!
  • Your niche can expand. Once you have established your brand in one niche and built a strong reputation, you can expand your brand to serve a complementary niche.

Running a freelance business can be tough — it’s a lot of trial and error because there is no cookie-cutter solution that works for everyone. But with a crystal clear niche, you can begin attracting quality clients who value what you do, are happy to pay you what you’re worth, and can’t wait to get started.