Niching is specialising.
It's going from being a developer, to being a website developer, to being a Webflow developer, to being a Webflow developer for restaurants, to being a Webflow developer for restaurant owners in San Francisco called Bob.
Niching is something that can often be feared, as it might seem like by specialising in a specific industry or for a specific problem, that you're reducing the amount of clients that you could work with.
What you'll find is that this isn't the case, as in reality niching could be one of the main factors that makes you a more successful web developer.
There are 3 reasons why niching will help you become a better and more profitable web designer, so let's start with the biggest misconception first:
You might think by nicheing you are reducing the amount of potential clients that you could work with, but in most cases it's actually the opposite.
When you niche, though you end up targeting a smaller slice of clients, usually ones in a specific industry or with a specific problem they're facing, you're making it a lot more likely that clients will work with you because they see you as someone who is specialised for them.
If you wanted pizza, would you go to a restaurant that serves 3 different cuisines, or one that just does pizza? or if you lived in a windy city, like I do in Wellington, would you buy a generic umbrella, or one that is made specifically to not break in windy weather?
So by niching you're showing the right clients that find you that you're going to be the trusted option to go with.
and Overtime this gets easier and easier as your portfolio of previous work reflects the same kind of client, so when a new client finds you and looks at all your previous work, they can see that you've worked on the same kind of project that they have plenty of times before.
Surprisingly enough though, if your work is good enough then even if you niche, you will still get clients reaching out outside of the niche just because they want to work with you, such as if you have a specific design style that they their website to have, so by niching your not completely cutting away all other client work.
As a Webflow developer who niches in SaaS websites, most of my leads are websites for software products or apps, but not all. I'll also get clients from other industries wanting to work with me even though I'm not specialised for them just because of my design style.
There are a lot of fish in the sea, and there are a lot of web developers in the market. So finding a way to stand out amongst the competition is crucial for getting more clients, or if you're a fish, for not getting eaten.
When there is no discernible difference between you and another developer, clients are going to go for the cheaper option, but as soon as you fit a specific need for your client, you're more likely to be chosen to work with, and it's much easier to charge more.
Niching makes it easier for customers to build trust in a business because they know that they are focused on their specific problem or need. So when clients are given the option to work with a generic web developer or one suited to their specific situation, they will often pick the one that is more specialised to them.
This is because it's much less risky for a client to go with a developer who knows their situation compared to a developer who is just looking for any kind of work that comes their way.
As you keep building out websites for a specific niche of client, you'll keep using the same tools, techniques, and processes to get their site live.
The first time you build an e-commerce clothing website will take the longest, then the second time you build one it will be faster, then the third time it will be even faster. This is because you can reuse things that you've learnt and built in the past for future projects.
But if you're working on any project that comes your way, you'll be learning tactics and tools for all different kinds of websites where you might never use that same information again. Maybe you'll learn how to add in sign-in and sign-up functionality for one of your clients, and then never do it again for another project.
If you compare someone who is always having to learn new tools with someone who keeps using the same tools, you're going to find that the person who stays consistent with their tools is able to work on projects faster and have a much easier time managing their projects.
It also makes it much easier to give advice to your clients and serve them better, because you'll build up a knowledge for what works and doesn't work for that industry, so you can more easily recommend certain pages or extensions for your clients websites.
For example, when a client wants to add functionality that you know won't help them, you'll be able to say, "I've done this kind of project before, and implementing this functionality actually didn't work that well, and what I've found is if we do it this way it's going to be more successful".
That's some of the biggest reasons why it makes sense to niche as a web developer. But the question still remains that if nicheing is so good, why do some studios and agencies not niche?
The reason this is is actually pretty straight forward. As an individual or as a small team, it doesn't make sense to be a jack of all trades because clients know that if you're doing it all, you're probably not doing it all very well, and this is again why it makes sense to niche, so you can focus in on a specific type of work and make each project amazing.
But studios have a broader range of skills that they have across all their staff, so they don't need to worry as much about working on the same kind of project. You might have someone in the team who's great at animation on websites, someone who’s great at doing illustrations, a couple of people who do the design side, and a couple of people who do the development. Individually you might still say that each employee is niched with a specific skill, but added all together they have all the skills to be able to take on a much broader range of projects.
All of this is to say that even though some studios don't niche, as an individual it still makes sense to, as you don't have the bandwidth to take on everything that a studio does that is the same quality they can do. Plus the studios that do end up nicheing are making it even easier for themselves to scale their processes and their team, so even studios and agencies have no excuse to not niche.
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