Are you a jack-of-all-trades?
Do you feel overwhelmed by the many hats that you have to wear to make ends meet? Are you constantly jumping from one project to the other? You constantly find yourself doing work and need to learn new unrelated skills to provide your customer’s needs.
The problem is that you don’t know whether you’re coming or going because you’re trying to be everything to everybody. This causes stress and leads to burnout.
Don’t be a jack of all trades… be a freelance superhero. Follow this strategy… life is too short to waste on nonproven methods and dangerous trials.
1. Taking on any and everything
When I started freelancing, I was looking for work anywhere I could find it. The requests were random and I rarely ran the same type of projects (back to back). This gave me a lot of valuable experience in numerous areas and allowed me to experience various job types. What this meant was that I could discover where my real talents are and what I enjoyed doing the most.
In addition to graphic design, I learned how to:
- Edit audio and video
- Build websites
- Print t-shirts
- Take great photographs
- Install an office network
- Repair a computer
- Remove viruses from a computer
Each of these skills is valuable but overtime I became more spread out and my projects were all over the map.
My rates varied for each area of service which complicated estimates.
Nobody, including myself, knew what my area of expertise was as my work was scattered.
So, my marketing messaging was ineffective because I wasn’t focusing on one type of client and problem.
2. The big turnaround…
First, I had to start saying no to jobs that weren’t in my core skillset.
This part was scary, but I turned down work anyway. Every time I said no, I was able to clarify to my customer what my core skills and expertise are.
This new clarity gave me confidence and helped my clients better understand me.
Next, big positive changes happened when I started focusing on my core skills and services.
My rates increased dramatically ($35/hr to $150+/hr) because I was focused on solving a specific problem.
My processes were easier to define because I was doing the same thing over and over.
My marketing messaging became clear and easier to communicate because I am speaking to clients that have the same need.
My schedule filled up with work faster.
3. Now, it’s your turn… Instead of solving everyone’s problems…
Focus on a group that you want to work with.
Identify your core area of expertise.
Decide what makes you an expert. What skill is it that you want people to say“That’s the go-to guy, right there!”
The only way that you can do this is to specialize.
Even superheroes specialize when it comes to their superpowers… And even then they spend hours honing their abilities and their strengths. This is what ensures their success.
But, the same can be said for freelancing.
Whether one is a writer, graphic artist or landscaper, you’ll reap great benefits from focusing your efforts on the aspects of your industry that you love the most.
Why the one that you love the most? Because you’ll be spending hours each day putting all your blood, sweat, and tears into projects. And you might as well love what you do while doing it.
Plus, those are the talents that you’ll learn the fastest and people will see your passion. This means that you’ll be an expert in a shorter period of time.
Perhaps your passion lies with small non-profits and you hate the thought of designing work for corporate enterprises. That’s perfectly fine. By learning all that you can about 3 – 4 industries (rather than 14), you’ll be better prepared to serve the clients you really want to have.
Specialization saves you time on research and equips you to create more engaging proposals from your already in-depth knowledge. It also, makes it easier for prospective clients to find you.
“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.” – Steve Jobs
Understand your customer and the problems they face
Knowing your customers so well that you could actually pass off as best buddies, help you understand their problems. And by knowing this, you can provide unique solutions.
Knowing their ins and outs makes creating your marketing message easier and relatable.
Demonstrate you’re the real deal; the doctor which helps solve their “pain”.
Explain in your messaging how you (the Expert) can effectively solve their business problems. (Unique Selling Proposition)
Proving to them that you know how to solve their problem instills trust in you. When clients trust you, they want to work with you.
Market your personal brand, online and offline
Share this messaging in your email signature, website, social channels, business card, networking events, online communities, etc.
People won’t know that you exist if you don’t market your business. Taking daily steps to let people know that you can solve their graphic design problems is important for you to gain customers.
Online marketing equalizes the playing field against larger competitors. Advertising online is “finance-friendly” and leveraging one-on-one interaction pushes customers to deal with you as opposed to bigger brands.
So, stop being a design jack-of-all-trades and start showing yourself as an expert as a freelancer in graphic design. Get rid of being overwhelmed by specializing and choosing who you want to work with.
A freelance superhero focuses on providing certain skills as this attracts high-paying clients.