TRACK YOUR TIME
Setting boundaries around the type of work you do are at the core of what niching down is.
It very much is a mindset that you need to get yourself into.
The best way to force yourself into the mindset is tracking your time with everything.
Even when you think you are just doing that “one thing” for a client that takes 10 mins, I’d be willing to bet that task took 15 or 20. Which directly eats into the overall profits of the business because that’s not what the client hired you to do.
Specializing your business means to not just focusing on a particular client, but it also means to focus on the type of work you do.
I ran a Twitter poll a few months ago and asked “Who would you rather be? Larry Bird or Danny Ainge?”
It was a landslide victory for Larry Bird at 92%.
I ran this on Instagram as well and Larry won with 100%.
Respect to Danny Ainge, who honed his craft in 2 sports and reach both the NBA and MLB. He played pretty well in both places but was never the best.
But Larry Bird, on the other hand, concentrated all his effort on basketball and became the Hall of Fame legend.
It’s hard for most to set these boundaries. To be profitable and be able to optimize the business processes and be better at pricing, you have to reduce the number of variables in the work.
You do that by setting these boundaries, which really is reducing the scope of work that you do.
Why You Have No Money As A Freelancer
Anytime I hear a client wants me to go off and use a different technology that they went ahead and signed up for or that they want me to do design or social media work, I picture in my head a stack of money on fire.
As a business owner, I’m sure that you’ve heard the expression “Just because you can do it, doesn’t mean that you should.”
Owners hear especially when they start delegating tasks to other folks.
But it applies very much to this as well.
Sure I can develop in Rails, Java, and work in Infusionsoft and MailChimp. I have in the past, but I decided to stop taking on those projects.
I’ve found that for the clients I serve, and the solutions they need, WordPress, Drip and ConvertKit has worked better.
Over time I’ve learned the ins and outs of these platforms and been able to solve problems for clients in ways that even the companies didn’t even know could be done.
Had I not focused on these platforms, chances are good that I wouldn’t have gotten this deep with them.
Let me give you an example when I was a generalist developer I would spend 3-6 months working on Rails projects, then bounce from those to a custom PHP project for the next 6 months. Then back to a Rails project.
By the time the PHP project was done, often there were new versions of Rails, so I’d have to learn those. Rails was a fast pace technology so there were tons of new gems and bits of software and tools to catch up on.
I would constantly be chasing my tail in this cat and mouse technology race just to keep up. I wouldn’t give myself a chance to dive deep into the inner workings of the technology.
But most importantly to the business, I wasn’t becoming an expert and learning ways of how best to optimize the project builds, the deployments, the project support, and most of all the business itself.
With the constant re-learning of new things, rarely ever did 2 projects go the same way.
Project estimates were not as confident and I was almost forced to charge hourly rates.
Value-based pricing always seemed like a far-fetched pipe dream that I’d never reach.
Setting the boundaries is easy, but keeping them and not falling back into old habits is hard.
If you keep falling back, the business won’t move forward, you won’t move forward and your profits will just go up in flames.
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