I hate to answer this question with “it depends” but I’m going to.
And for making it to episode 108 without saying that, I think is a pretty nice feat, right?
But you know me, I’m not going to leave “it depends” hanging out there.
I’m going share with you 3 scenarios in which I would approach both.
You'll always want to niche down
I’m always going to suggest you niche down. Let’s get that out there straight off the bat.
It’s just a matter of how fast you specialize to that niche and how strongly focused you stick to it.
Regardless of your situation, you should always be working towards that niche. In the end, that’s where you’ll want to be to avoid that feast or famine cycle.
#1 Take on generalist work only 50%
With that out of the way, I’m a realist. I know you’ve got bills to pay. They will never stop coming in and how well positioned you are on being able to pay those bills will guide my answer to this question.
The only time where you’ll here me suggest taking on generalist projects is when you don’t have an income coming in or a nice nest egg of savings that can support you while you structure your specialized business.
Let’s face it, when you niche down, it will take longer to get a few projects under your belt than it will as a generalist. That’s just the way the world works.
You’ll find way more $15 bottle of red table wine than $250 50 year bottles of merlot. I have no idea if that’s the thing, but you get my point.
There are more low revenue generating projects out there for many different businesses than there are premium revenue generating projects.
So if this is your situation, then go get yourself a generalist project or 2. But all the while you should be spending at least half the time targeting the niche you want your business to serve.
#2 Niche Down, but set constraints
Now, if you have a severance from a position you once held, or a savings, or you are even working full-time, go straight for the niche.
You have a cushion to sit on for a little bit. You can be a bit selective. You don’t have a HUGE urgent need to bring money in to pay bills because of that cushion.
Build yourself some constraints, especially when starting out and you don’t have a full-time job. Tell yourself that you are going to give yourself 2-months of dedicating 100% of the effort towards the niche because you’ve got 6-month cushion.
If you can’t get a project or 2 within that timeframe, then dial back the focus to 50% and get yourself some income.
#3 Go All In Niching Down
And finally if you are working full-time now, there’s no excuse to take on a generalist project. You’ve got income coming in. No doubt you want to leave your job for something better, why would you waste your time on building a reputation in something other than what you want to leave your job for and live the kind of life you want?
I hope these scenarios make sense to you. There’s a lot of gray area in between each of them, so please take what I say as a guideline, not gospel, and apply it to your own personal situation and comfort level.
But always keep at least half of the effort focused on the specialty.
Start a Freelance Business
More episodes in this topic:
What are the costs involved in becoming a freelancer?
Is the income from freelancing reliable?
What payment structure should I do?
How do you build a good freelancing profile in the field of web development considering the competition?
What are skills you can learn fast and have high freelancer value?
How to start freelancing?
Should you do free work to build a portfolio?
What is freelance?
How can I start freelancing without experience?
What does it take to be a freelancer?
Why did you start freelancing?
What is the very first step to work as a freelancer?
How do you set the boundary of work you do and work you don't do?
What are your client red flags?
What should you be able to create as a web developer before starting in your freelance career?
When starting out freelance, should I just be a generalist to get my feet wet, or should I go for that niche?
As a developer, should I throw my projects on Github or build a site from scratch to grab attention?
What can I use for social proof when starting as a freelancer?
How can I start freelancing as a web developer?
Should I use my name or create a business name when starting?
Should I call myself a “freelancer” (definitive answer)?
Why should you not be a freelancer?
How do you collect online payments as a freelancer
How much money do I need to make?
Why is hourly billing bad?
Why is hourly billing good?
What are the biggest mistakes a freelancer can make?
How to adapt and change to the WordPress climate?
How to budget as a freelancer?
What is your marketing plan?
What is your sales process?
What do you do to position yourself as an expert to leads?
How do you balance your time for sales and marketing?
How do you get high-quality clients?
Should I offer my services as a web designer/developer or specialize first?
What do you do again?
What is the best freelancing website?
What do you do for a follow-up sequence for leads?
How to attract clients with big budgets?
How not to be annoying in sales?
How do you convince someone to sign a contract?
What to say when a client is late on a payment?
Best of Season 3 - Get out of the comfort zone
Best of Season 3 - Building Relationships
S06 E12 - Undercharging, Targeting the Wrong Audience, and What You Should Do About It with Alex McClafferty
S03 Bonus - Tom McFarlin on Blogging, Balancing Work and Family, and Building a Business that Lasts
S09 E11 - Differentiation, Reputation, and Pivoting From the Top-Down with Peep Laja
S01 E11 - Kai Davis helping freelancers get more clients with outreach