“Choose a niche” they said.
Do I have to decide right this minute??
What if I pick the wrong one?
Oh, and then there’s the fact that I can’t really afford to turn anyone away right now…
Sound familiar? You’re not alone!
The fear of choosing wrong, or narrowing the pool of potential paying clients when you could honestly use whatever income comes your way keeps a lot of designers from being intentional with the direction of their biz.
Yep! Besides being a total recipe for burnout, avoiding choosing a niche:
Keeps you from becoming ‘the expert’ at anything
Keeps you from being able to charge premium (expert) prices
Keeps you on the client-finding hamster-wheel because it’s unclear what you do, so you will never be the first to come to mind when there’s an opportunity for a referral
Keeps you stuck in constant hustle-mode, chasing after every new marketing trend out there in the hopes something will stick and your biz will finally take off (and you can finally start living that life of freedom you’ve been dreaming of!)
If any of this sounds like you by the way, I invite you to check out my Square Secrets Business course, and join the ranks of past students who’ve used my biz-building systems to skip the years of expensive (and straight up soul-crushing) trial and error, and build a web design business they actually love the first time.
You know…one that does more than just (barely) pay the bills?
Together inside the course we’ll get your niche-needs all taken care of!
Okie dokes, so it’s pretty obvs by now that not choosing a niche will obviously be a big time hinderance to your web design business success.
And while your goal destination is pretty clear (read: you have one dreamy type of project or client you love to work with/on and you consistently get paid the big bucks to do it!) the path to get there is not always so straightforward!
I mean, it wouldn’t be called ‘niche’ if everyone’s journey was exactly the same, right?
Thankfully, we’ve got our trusty featured designers here once again to share the wisdom and encouragement they wish they’d had when they were first faced with these big decisions in their own businesses.
Let’s see what our ladies have to say in post #5 of the “Web designers speak out” series!
“Picking a niche is one of the scariest things I’ve done in my business, but it’s definitely worth it!
One thing I wish I knew about choosing a niche is that it is always a work in progress.
Over time I’ve adjusted things when I realized the clients I thought I wanted to work with weren’t quite the right fit, and I’ve gotten more specific too.
– Jessica Haines, Jessica Haines Design
“I haven’t actually really niched yet, but it’s something I’m heavily considering right now.
– Lindsey Anderson, Six Leaf Design
Additionally, 90% of my client are women ”
– Erin Neumann, Be Aligned Web Design
“I’m still working on this one, but I feel like your niche is more about YOU and less about choosing the right audience.
– Malena Southworth, Southworth Design Co.
“There are so many ways to do this!
I decided to niche by platform (Squarespace) and business type (small businesses and entrepreneurs).
– Christy Price, Christy Price
“This is probably an unpopular opinion, but when it comes to niching my opinion is: At the beginning, it’s truthfully not alllll that important…
*dodges tomato soaring at head.*
Don’t get me wrong, choosing a niche is SUPER powerful and something I absolutely recommend 100%!
If you’re a website designer, creating a website for a bakery, a biking company, or a barbershop will ALL give you amazing experience, portfolio work, and help you grow your skillset.
You don’t HAVE to niche down immediately – and if you try, you might find it feels impossible to find a lot of people in one highly specific niche who all want to hire you as a newbie.
So work with people you want to work with, and work with people who want to work with you.
– Corinne Pettit, Heart & Hustle Studio
“I tried to niche right away but defining it has taken time.
I started with a foggy idea of my niche and tried to put out what I wanted to attract through my blog, portfolio & website.
At the beginning, I needed to land every job to pay the bills but over time I’ve been able to be more selective as I understand what projects I love doing and which ones I just can’t stand. I use this to narrow my niche over time.
Now, after about 2 years as a full-time designer, I finally have a clear understanding of my niche.
I tried to rush this process but it had to unfold naturally as I learned about myself as a designer and they type of people I loved to work with.”
– Vanessa Bucceri, Vanessa Bucceri Creative
“I thought my niche needed to be a series of characteristics.
Like “Annie” is my ideal client and she’s thirty something and starting her own business and loves doing all the things. I steered myself wrong for a while.
Once I realized that I love to conquer a whole site in just one day my niche followed quickly.
Now it’s people who need a new website and want it done ASAP. They love knowing exactly when to expect it and knowing that the process won’t be drawn out.
I gravitate toward new business owners, and they gravitate to me because I post about my experience starting a biz on IG.
My niche shifted a bit, but there was a huge change once I found my process and what I liked. (I genuinely love new websites and not having the old site “lurking” in the background).
– Becca Wood, Alto Design Co
“This is likely the single most important thing you can ever do for your business.
– Rose Lindo, Bittersweet Design Boutique
I was pretty open to a wide variety of clients when starting out.
So it would’ve been a bit easier if I had started with a more specific niche and grown a following in that.”
– Melissa Stephenson, Five Design Co
“There are so many ways to approach choosing a niche.
The way I found most helpful was looking at the industries or fields of work that I’m interested in, which I realized were creative fields, health & wellness businesses and spiritual/alternative businesses, and working with as many of those as possible.
– Steph Bisson, Colour & Love
Hip, trendy, minimalistic – you know the ones.
But that is the exact OPPOSITE of me as a person and I really resisted it for a while. But that style just wasn’t ME.
It didn’t connect.
I finally decided I needed to lean into who I am and my true style.
Don’t be afraid to be different from the “norm”. I know we hear that all the time, but it’s SO TRUE.”
– Chelsea Pimienta, 23 & 9 Creative
It seemed SO hard to decide who I wanted to help, but I just went with coaches because I love the work they do in the world, and I’m kind of fascinated by the industry.
– Carissa Erickson, Carissa Erickson
My niche is beauty and lifestyle businesses, but many of the clients I work with have varied businesses.
– Jen Davis, Hello June Creative
Don’t feel pressured to pick a niche just because that’s what you are supposed to do.
Experiment a little and make a decision based on your personal experience.”
– Maru Ramirez, Studio Mer
“Choose a niche and stick with it!!
Get REALLY good at it, and strive to be the best in that area.
Your clients will notice you know what you’re talking about and it allows you to work with confidence. That confidence often times gives you motivation to step outside your comfort zone!”
– Hannah Phillips, Dear Brunch Design
What I always say is that your niche finds you, and not the other way around.
This happens based on a number of factors: your age, experience level, personal style, and the vibe of your business.
Once you’ve contracted your first handful of clients you’ll start to notice a pattern of similarity among your clientele.
You can either go with it and continue to show up for them or change your methods if you’d like to change your quality of clientele.”
– Kaitlin Hoppenstedt Ortgega, Studio Kait
Sure, that’s one brilliant way to focus down. But there are other ways like design style, location or even price point.
I was totally stumped with the idea of niching down into an industry. I liked wellbeing but I also liked my wedding industry client!
– Eleanor Stones, Eleanor Stones
“My niche kind of just fell into place.
I love working with female entrepreneurs for this reason and love how hard working and driven they are.”
– Jackie Elefante, Jaks Digital
It took me nearly two years to find my niche and only within the past year have I really aligned my entire brand and social media with my chosen niche.”
– Mackenzi Green, Kenzi Green Design
“I’m 1.5 years into business so I feel like I’m just starting to niche down more.
I’m in the process of re-working my website to focus more on working with “personal brands” so bloggers and service-based business owners that are the face of their brand!”
– Mary Kiser, MK Design Studio
“I wish I chose my niche sooner (Squarespace web design for NGO’s and small businesses).
– Emma Hall, Retro Marketing
“Make it something you love. And narrow in.
– Kali Edwards, June Mango Design