Finding your ‘niche’ – or the positioning of your business – is super important for web designers.
What do you think about when someone mentions positioning? For many of us, positioning sounds like a buzz word that has little meaning. We might consider it a type of marketing black magic we don’t really understand. Or, we might have a good concept of positioning, but no idea how to apply the concept to our own work. I get it… I really do!
As a part of the Designing to Delight community, I interact with designers all the time. My marketing strategy services are focused on helping creatives (designers, developers, writers, artists) build business success and sell their services profitably.
I love what I do… but I have to be honest. Most freelancers I meet struggle with finding their web design niche.
And as a result they…
- Struggle to attract clients or…
- Consistently fail to find clients with the money to hire them or…
- Work for people who don’t appreciate their value or trust their skill.
It makes me sad to see so many gifted designers struggling. Working terribly hard while serving the wrong clients… or just taking any work at all to pay the bills. It makes me sad because it doesn’t have to be this way.
So let me ask you… Have you found your niche, or are you struggling too? Wishing you could finally do the work you love for people who trust you and are willing to invest in your services?
If you’re struggling, this blog post is for you. But keep reading even if you’re feeling good about things… because what you learn will probably help your clients.
Finding your ‘niche’ is simply putting the story of your business in front of people who understand your value and need what you provide.
Positioning is not black magic. It’s not even terribly complex. But it IS an area where many of us struggle. Why? Because we’re just too close to our own businesses to be objective. And we’re too tied up in knots by the imposter syndrome to be bold. And we’re too stuck in our own heads to take action.
But that ends here. Right? Because you’re better than all that.
Ok. I want you to grab a journal and put your thinking cap on. It’s time for a few thought provoking questions and some action. Ready?
Who do you really want to work with?
Notice I didn’t ask you who you think will buy your work. I didn’t ask you who your ideal client is or open up the discussion to client avatars or general ideas. I want to know who you REALLY want to work with… and why you love them.
- What niche market resonates with you? Life coaches or yoga instructors? Manufacturing companies or people who make jewelry? Authors… butchers, bakers, candlestick makers? Think of the types of businesses you love and want to support.
- What types of people do you really want to support? This is the demographics part. Things like gender, age, years in business. Consider also personality types. It’s ok to only want to work with women who know what they want or people who trust you and your vision.
What work do you really want to do?
Notice I didn’t ask you what you think you can sell. (By the way, your imposter syndrome isn’t invited to this conversation.) So often designers position themselves as generalists and I understand why… you have a lot of skills and you want to promote them all so people know how great you are.
But here’s the thing. You can’t be a generalist and position yourself as an expert and frankly, experts are more successful. They charge more, they have waiting lists, and people want to work with them.
So, let me ask you again. What work do you love?
- Website design – the pretty stuff that people see on a finished site?
- Website development – the coding and techy stuff that makes things work?
- Building membership sites or setting up email marketing engines?
- Maintaining sites and keeping things running smoothly?
- Coaching business owners through the twists and turns of digital strategy?
You might be able to do all of these things. But I know you don’t love them all equally. It’s time to limit the options and think about your expertise. Looking for niche ideas? Check out this list.
What’s most important to you?
Yes, your values and your dreams are an important part of your positioning. Why? Because when you know what’s most important to you the decisions you need to make are so much easier.
Let’s face facts. We’re all in business to make money. The bills must be paid, right? It’s just reality. We all care about making money in return for our services. But for some of us, money is more than that. It’s a measure of success.
- It means you can stay home with your kids or care for your elderly parents or send your children to college.
- It tells your family and friends that you’re seriously a player in the market.
- It banishes the imposter syndrome and gives you confidence.
If this is you, embrace it. Know your number and how to value your time. Position yourself according to the number you need to make… the one that makes you feel good about the work you do. It’s ok. I give you permission.
But maybe money isn’t your main thing. Maybe you get excited about seeing a new business owner launch their site with pride. Or possibly you feel successful when your clients praise your work and tell their friends about your business.
Maybe success for you is…
- The peace on a client’s face when they trust you.
- Helping a cause you believe in improve their reach.
- Coming alongside a struggling client with the perfect advice at the right time.
You get to decide how you show up in the marketplace. You get to decide who you work for and how much you charge them. You get to decide what work you do, how you do it, and how you define success.
Putting it all together and putting it out there.
Your answers to my questions are the beginning of your story. You’ve hopefully clarified what you want and who you want to serve. You know who you need to tell your story to in order to get the results you want.
Maybe you really want to do web design and development for women who trust you, believe in your value, and are willing to pay top dollar to work with an expert who understands their life coaching business or their struggles marketing information products for the health and fitness industry.
Or maybe your vision is completely different. The point is, you know who you really need to market to and tell your story to and get in front of so they can buy. Now you just need to put it out there.
How do you do that? Well… you start thinking like they do.
You’re an expert, right? Show your portfolio in a way that is professional, polished, and speaks to their needs. Talk about your skills confidently, without making excuses or filling your copy with words like…
- If you think you’d like to work with me…
- I might be the right fit for you if…
- I’m a lot like other designers out there…
Proudly talk about what you do with authority and confidence. Make it clear what you look for in a client and demonstrate your interest in your niche.
And then market your butt off… because the difference between a low price and a higher one is marketing. Plain and simple.
People pay $500 for a website. People pay $15,000 for a website. The market will bear nearly any price in that range…and possibly a little more. If you are properly positioned (meaning you’re talking to the right audience with a message that speaks to them and what they need) you can charge the highest price you’re comfortable with… and slowly go up from there.
Let me challenge a few of your assumptions. People just starting out in business really can afford to pay you $3500 for a website. How do I know? They invest $3500 in online courses to tell them how to start a business. They spend thousands on courses to tell them how to blog or conquer email marketing or write a business plan. They can pay you. You just need to make them want to pay you… and that’s marketing.
But that’s a topic for another day. The best marketing in the world won’t help you if you’re not properly positioned. So start there my friend… and let’s do this! Want to talk a bit about positioning? Post about it in the Drama Free Design Community and tag me.