With so much online competition for being a web designer or developer, being a generalist won't get you very far.
When there is no distinguishable factor between you and another designer, it only makes sense for clients to go for the cheapest option they can find.
This is exactly what gets freelancers caught up in the race to the bottom to charge as little as possible. But when there is something that sets you above the rest, something specific that makes you more valuable than other freelancers, you're a lot more likely to get work, and that specific something is nicheing.
There are a couple of different ways you can niche as a web designer and become more sought out by clients.
Here's an overview of all the different ways you might niche:
Let's properly do a dive into each of these.
So these days there are a lot of website building platforms that you can choose to build on; Wordpress, Webflow, Shopify, Wix, SquareSpace, Duda, Weebly, Zyro, Simvoly, Rocketspark, Teachable, Webnode, Jimdo, Web.com, Unbounce, Leadpages and Instapage to name just a few.
Though it feels crazy that all of these platforms are being used to build websites, they all are.
A big reason why is that a lot of these offer slightly different features suited to different kinds of uses. For example, Teachable is for building course based websites, and so by learning how Teachable works, you can become a go-to designer for building Teachable websites.
Combining your knowledge of different builders makes you even more valuable, so if you know Webflow, and you know Teachable, you can build Teachable websites and add custom elements and sections that are built in Webflow.
By nicheing to a platform, you can change your freelancer title to be the platform expert, like John Smith, Teachable Expert, and in that way show clients that if they know that they need to use that platform, they can come to you to get help with it.
Specialising to an industry is probably the most common thing people think of when they think of niching.
The reason it makes sense to niche this way is that businesses in a certain industry will often have similar requirements and goals. Restaurants want more customers, so an emphasis on booking reservations and opening times will be important. Where-as SaaS companies want more sign-ups, so everything is directed at getting people to a sign-up page.
To niche to a certain industry is to more intimately know the issues and problems that industry typically faces, and have the knowledge on the best ways to solve that problem.
The more you work with one specific industry, the more you can see what tactics do and don't work for a certain problem or transformation a client is wanting to make.
Over time you also build up a portfolio suited for that industry, so all your previous projects reflect businesses in that industry and you can also start to use language that the industry uses.
Instead of saying "we help you get more customers", you might say get more users for software clients, or get more patients for healthcare clients, or get more students for education clients, either way your shaping your language to use the wording that is used in that industry to show clients that you know what they need.
Similar to nicheing to a platform, you can niche to know how specific apps integrate in with websites. So you could be the go-to person for connecting websites with Zapier, Hubspot, Salesforce, Integromat, Airtable, Memberstack, and so on.
With smaller clients, they likely won't want to reach out to an expert, and would much rather try it themselves and screw up a couple of times, but for bigger organisations, it's not worth it for them for the potential of the system or integration breaking, so they would much rather go to an expert for the tool and have it done right the first time.
Aron who runs Automate All The Things is one of the go-to people for using Airtable, in-fact he has done a full course on it. So if a big company knows they have to use an Airtable connection for their website and they want it done right the first time, they know they can go to the expert on it and get a great result.
Start with a Webflow template and have your new website up in no time.
Though this is less of a niche, focusing on being known in the location you live in can still be a great tactic.
You might already be known to your friends as the "website designer" guy like I am, but you can make this spread past your friends to everyone else in your area by advertising and showing up to meetups to spread your word. A lot of freelancers and studios rely on word of mouth to get new clients, and word of mouth can spread a lot faster when it's in one main location.
Dan Smith Will Teach You Guitar is an ad that can be found plastered all around New York City, and because the same simple ad was used for long enough around New York, it resulted in a lot of coverage and plenty of satire. As a result Dan will likely have a long backlog of students to teach guitar now that he is known super well in that location.
Whether you decide to get your name out there with consistent advertising, or just by showing up to events, nicheing to a location might be the way you focus on getting new clients.
A lot of famous artists are known for a specific look, one that you can't pass without saying "oh that's a Keith Haring!", or a Banksy, or a Monet.
A lot of illustrators, painters or tattoo artists build a following based off of this, because customers say "I want something like that", so when a company needs a mural done, they say, we should go get one from Alice Lee, and the exact same effect works for web work.
If you have a specific design aesthetic that you love, you can focus all your work around it. So you could do websites that look futuristic tech, or minimal and elegant, or with a focus on 3d elements. This way when a client is looking around for someone, they might come across your work and think "this is the exact look I'm wanting!" and that's going to make you a lot more likely to get clients that will give you any creative freedom you want to do your thing.
So that's plenty of ways that you can niche as a web designer, but if you don't know exactly how you should niche, just focus on whatever interests you most, because that way you'll be likely to spend a lot more time learning and working with it, rather than picking something that seems to be popular but that you have no interest in.
Save your clients thousands of dollars down the line by adding these 3 steps into your Webflow projects.
Spending too much time on tweaking your homepage could be taking away from improving other important pages.
I've worked with countless businesses around the world. Maybe you'll be next.