I’ve worked a lot of different jobs in my life. I originally worked as a banker, but I’ve also been a dog breeder, makeup artist, product/fashion stylist, and social entrepreneur. I’m the founder of Manila Workshops and Taxumo. And of course, I’m a blogger too! Apart from this blog, I am a lifestyle blogger at ManilaReviews.com and a health and fitness blogger at ManilaFitness.com.
So no one knows better than I do how life and a wide variety of interests can pull you in so many different directions. But while diversification can keep your life fun and exciting, it can also make it easier for you to get frazzled and spread yourself too thin. When that happens, especially when you’re freelancing, it can push you that much closer to burnout.
This makes it all the more important to find your niche as a freelancer. It’s not just to improve your own life, either—it will help you find and serve quality clients who are willing to pay more for your unique set of skills.
Still, finding the market and skill set to specialize in can be tough. In my case, it took me years of doing different things before I settled into the roles I have now, but I don’t regret any of them—in fact, I highly recommend doing the same. It’s good to explore the many avenues that are open to you because it helps you find the best fit. Think about how it works when you go to college, where you take mostly general subjects in your freshman and sophomore years, which gives you the option to change your course before you go into the subjects related to your major, which you take more and more of in your junior years, so that you have the right knowledge and skills for your chosen career path by the time you graduate.
Most freelancers find that finding their niche markets require quite a bit of trial and error. Still, there are ways to make sure there are fewer “errors” than there are trials. Here are a few things I’d suggest:
Do some exploratory research. Talk to other people. Join meetups not just for freelancers doing the same thing you’re doing, but other kinds of freelancers and professionals as well (if this is something you’d like to do, I can recommend joining the Freelance Blend group by Marvin de Leon and also the PayPal Philippines Freelancer Community. Immerse yourself in an industry you find interesting. Read books, watch videos, subscribe to podcasts—there are so many things you can do!
Do a SWOT analysis. You might have learned about these in school or at work. Outline your strengths and your weaknesses, and identify opportunities and threats for your freelancing business. You’ll want to play to your strengths and maximize your opportunities, but also find ways to improve on your weaknesses and protect your business from threats.
Do a little soul searching. Not to sound cheesy, but the better you know yourself and what you want to do, the easier it will be to find a place in the freelancer market that fits you. Ask yourself a few probing questions. What do you want to achieve as a career goal? What do you love doing most—and love learning? Or conversely, what do you hate doing? Where is your network? Who are the people who support you? And on a more social note, where can you do the most good?
At the end of the day, and even when you have found your niche and made a name for yourself, you’ll likely still find that you’ll still need to know a little about a lot of things, as your clients’ needs may vary. Now, this doesn’t mean you need to spend lots of time and money getting professional-level competencies at skill sets that aren’t your primary business focus, but you need to know enough to be conversant and to make sure what needs to get done is done—more on this in my next post! And at the basic level, you’ll need to develop good communication and productivity skills, as well as the know-how to use tools like Taxumo and PayPal to make sure all your earnings are properly reported and received.
But don’t forget that you should have one or two things you should know a lot about, in order to be an expert in your field or career track. Once you know where your priorities lie, you can focus on working smarter instead of harder. And that just means more time for travel and, more importantly, for friends and family!