There’s a lot of talk about specialization in the web design industry. The idea is to focus on a specific type of clientele, tool, or project.
That means different things to different people. For some, it may entail building websites only with a content management system (CMS) like WordPress. Others may tailor their services to attract clients within a specific industry, such as medical or non-profit organizations.
One of the benefits of this singular focus is that a designer can gain an understanding of industry-specific needs and challenges. From there, it’s theoretically possible to offer a more customized (and profitable) experience than someone who works as a jack-of-all-trades. That expertise becomes attractive to clients and, before you know it, you become a go-to source for solutions.
Running this type of web design business is not without pitfalls, however. Success isn’t guaranteed. And, if you’re focusing on a specific industry, establishing credibility can be difficult.
Let’s take a look at the risks, benefits, and challenges of having a singular focus. Along the way, we’ll hear from a web designer who’s taken the plunge.
An Opportunity to Follow Your Passion
While money is always a consideration in business, it’s not necessarily the best reason to pursue a niche. A passion for the type of work you do and the people you work with is a better place to start. It’s more likely to lead you in the right direction and fuel growth.
For web designer Tara Claeys, her passion led to a realization. As she puts it, “I realized my favorite projects and clients were all education/school and non-profit organizations. I decided to go all-in and announce that I would only be working with this type of client from that point forward…”
And the goals for her new venture were simple: “I hoped this would make it easier to say ‘no’ to projects that I didn’t want to do… and over time would establish that I was a ‘go to’ for my niche”.
When you follow your passion, you’re more likely to put in the necessary groundwork – and do so happily. That could result in more in-depth knowledge and experience. It’s something you’ll want to share with every client.
That approach can put you on the fast track to both personal fulfillment and financial success.
An Uphill Climb to Visibility
Deciding to jump into a niche with both feet is a calculated risk. It can take time to build your brand. Meanwhile, lucrative projects outside of your new specialty may feel like missed opportunities.
If you don’t hit the ground running, the possibility of financial strain is real. Thus, it’s tempting to take on those other projects. It’s an understandable decision, but one with a slippery slope. The danger is in becoming too busy to go for the projects you want.
One of the big challenges is in establishing a footprint. This is especially difficult in sectors where there is a lot of competition. It may take several projects and some word-of-mouth to make a name for yourself.
This was something Claeys experienced. She notes that her greatest difficulty was “getting my name out in the industry as an expert/becoming known and trusted.”
Even if you have vast experience in building a specific type of website, there’s a lot of time and effort required to be seen as an authority. Building a portfolio of successful projects is important, but only part of the process.
The other half of the equation is in sharing what you know. Things like writing blog posts, speaking at industry events, and networking can help. It can be a lot of extra work but will introduce you to people within the areas you want to target.
That’s opposed to another popular tactic – cold-calling potential clients. For Claeys, “That was a waste of time and energy.” Indeed, it may be more effective to establish an identity and encourage people to come to you.
When Your Business Reflects Who You Are
You’ve put in the hard work and things have taken off. Now what? Claeys tells us that the rewards have been numerous.
“…I have loved every project I have taken on and have developed and enhanced a process to serve school and non-profit clients. It is easier to close sales because I am passionate and an ‘expert'”. In addition, this niche focus allows her to more easily identify potential clients.
And perhaps those are the best reasons to become a specialist. The chance to utilize your talents on projects you love sounds very compelling.
Still, it may not be for everyone – and that’s OK. Taking a broader approach to your career and business can be profitable and satisfying. A variety of projects can also be a great way to learn, after all.
But for those with a passion, specialization has some fantastic benefits. Tara Claeys is an example of how to make it a reality.
Thanks to Tara Claeys for sharing her experiences with us!