Oh, how I enjoy putting the cat amongst the pigeons 😆 🐱 🐦 and this blog post is no different!
So much of what we’re taught is just default advice mistaken for conventional wisdom. Often, we simply work on auto pilot. But I want to view things from new perspectives and provide valuable food for thought.
Which brings me to Niching. Again.
In a previous email, I talked about niching for artists. How it’s not a person, problem or market sector that is your niche. It’s your style, your aesthetic, your creative interpretation, exploration and message that will attract your people to you. And it will be a whole, wide, messy group of people buying for a whole raft of reasons. Nothing so neat as a single person, problem or market.
Today, I’m tackling niching for designers: graphic, branding, web, interiors.
Conventional wisdom states:
- You should become the Go To person for a specific niche; to hone your craft towards a single industry. eg you only work with financial services clients, or you specialise in spiritual healing businesses only.
- People would rather pay an expert in a specific field, someone who has years of experience designing for one industry. There is nothing they don’t know about that space, having a portfolio of clients almost exclusively in that niche.
Safe hands, you might say.
Boring, generic & predictable hands, I say.
Now, I’m not suggesting you need to be a Jack Of All Trades, flitting between diverse clients, disciplines or aesthetics just for the sake of it, without focus or direction. You need to be strategic. You need to know where your strengths & passions lie.
But I am suggesting that you look at your current situation from a 360 perspective. How can you stand apart from the crowd by taking your skill set, your experience, your design style and applying it to a wider variety of industries and clients where it’s new, unexpected and fresh?
If your current niche is only health coaches, maybe all your work will start to look the same, each project undiscernible from the next. You resort to the same design vernacular, the same stylistic devices, the same visual outcomes.
For you, it’s great. Design work is predictable, streamlined, and your portfolio has a clear vibe.
However, from a client’s perspective, unless you run an agency with a rolodex of designers with diverse styles, that’s a problem.
Often, the very reason a client needs design work is to become distinct in their market place. To elevate themselves above the competition. To bring something unique to the table. And if you’re a solo designer, churning out similar work for similar clients, they simply swim around together in a murky pool of sameness.
So, how to niche as a designer? Some ideas….
- As with artists, maybe your niche is your style and aesthetic. Apply those to a diverse range of clients & industries to bring the unexpected and exciting into otherwise predictable design spaces.
- Focus on local business only – we tend to seek clients everywhere except under our very noses. Maybe your niche is the local community or region.
- Maybe your deliverables are your niche…ditch the plethora of design services you currently offer, and focus on a key offering, eg storyboard design, lettering design, brochure design.
I hope that has given you something to ruminate on. Some useful food for thought and an exercise in thinking differently.
And it’s OK if you ultimately decide to go back to working for a specific industry, to be the Go To person for one type of client, but at least it won’t be an auto-pilot or default-setting decision.
Need more food for thought in your creative business? The doors are always open at The Creative Business Hub. Prices will rise in 2022, so get in now and enjoy lifetime access.