3 Ways To Zero In On What You Do Best

Zero In On Your Target Offerings

Recently, I read a great article from the folks at Freelance Folder (a fantastic resource to bookmark if you haven’t yet). The post was called “25 Easy Ways To Fine Tune Your Freelance Business” and it contained useful tips about how to keep your business fresh and avoid becoming bogged down with bad projects or the boring “business” side of things.

Most people who read the article seemed to hone in on tip number 4: Decide on a niche.

“I started making a lot more money and got a ton of clients after I decided to put myself into two niches: working with freelancers and agencies only and only doing HTML, CSS and WordPress work,” says the author. “Find out what part of the process you really enjoy and only do that kind of work.”

It was this last statement that really seemed to resonate with readers, so I wanted to explore some ways to segment your talents and zero in on what you truly enjoy.

1. Pay Attention To What You’re Doing: This is sound advice in almost every aspect of life, but you might not realize how easy it is to stop paying attention once you’re a seasoned freelancer. If you’re not in the habit of making an editorial calendar, to-do list, or tracking your hours, give it a try. Pay attention not only to the things that MUST get done today, but to the differences between list items. Do you avoid certain items because they’re more or less creative/structured/logical than others on the list? Do you dread writing content for one type of business, but hate it for another? Do you find joy in creating the architecture of a website or fine-tuning it for usability purposes rather than designing the logo or figuring out the best color scheme? These are clues about what make you happy and successful. Note them.

2. Revise Your Elevator Pitch: I’m not sure there are any freelancers that really think their elevator pitch is winning them clients. Reassessing the short version of how you describe yourself and your professional offerings is a great way to start manifesting the type of business you really want. If you call yourself a marketer, but what you really enjoy is creating and growing online communities via social media, it’s time to revamp your pitch. If you say that you offer market research services but what you long to do all day is write grants for non-profits, it’s time to think about changing how you talk about yourself.

3. Do Some Weeding: It’s all fine and good to notice the parts of the process that you truly enjoy, and mention them in your tag line, but if you continue working projects that miss the mark, it will only heighten your frustration. Once you’ve zeroed in on the elements that make you and your clients the happiest, it’s time to start weeding out the projects that don’t belong. Most client work has a rhythm, so the next time an undesirable project is winding down, it’s time to find a way to fire that client. It doesn’t have to be dramatic or negative. In fact, if you’ve got a good rapport with the client, try to leave it open ended. If they like you, they’ll be willing to give you some time to explore other avenues of your industry. If they start to panic, try to refer them to another freelancer that can handle the job.

It’s hard to let go of work, especially since many of us fight so hard to find it in the first place. But as you zero in on what’s best for you and your business, you’ll find that the right projects appear when you need them. Fine-tuning your business is a never-ending process. Worry about being great at what you do, and the money will follow.

Image Credit: Flickr – ogimogi

Who Is Coworking Now, And Who Will Be In The Future?

At the Coworking Unconference, there was a lot of talk about how different spaces offer different types of communities, and how as a result, different types of independent workers are attracted to them.

Many agreed that as coworking becomes more prolific and mainstream, spaces will begin to “niche out” as a way to differentiate themselves from other spaces, and as a way to better serve the needs of the growing mobile workforce.

Although my initial thought was that Cohere would be a “safe place to be weird” for technically creative types, we’ve grown to include writers, non-profit professionals, marketers, and both climate and meat scientists! I loved this about our community, because it allows us to be more valuable to each other.

I loved it so much that at the beginning of the year I published a Wish List of other unique professionals I’d love to see join in 2011 (keep an eye out for them in the coffee shops!)

At the end of the Unconference, moderator Alex Hillman of Philly’s Indy Hall posed a great question to the panel about:

a) which types of professionals space owners have been most surprised to see show up in their communities, and

b) the types of people that space owners would love to introduce to the benefits of coworking, but that aren’t showing up quite yet.

See their answers below!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qOP0ao3BIeQ

Image Credit: Trip Advisor – Trip Wow

How To Use Your Niche Statement To Propel Your Business

What To Do With Your Niche Statement

Figuring out your niche is an essential task for freelancers, especially if you want to attract a steady stream of paying clients. Researching your niche, determining your unique offerings, and then actually writing a succinct sentence that encapsulates your findings without confusing or boring people is no small feat.

(If you need help getting started, check out Monday’s post about why nicheing-out matters).

One reason some people feel less-than-motivated to create a niche statement is that they don’t really know how to use it once they’ve got it (especially true for people who find clients online), so here are some productive ways to use your niche statement once you’ve got it nailed down.

Networks and Directories

Finding a niche means getting right to the heart of what it is you do, and why you do it the best. The best place to put the niche statement is right where clients and customers will be looking for it–on a niche networking site or directory. No matter what you do, chances are there is a social media network designed to group you together with like-minded professionals and make your collective talents easy for the public to find.

Here’s just a sampling of what’s out there:

The Web Design Network
Real Design Network
The Designer’s Network
Fastpitch Networking
Freelance Writer’s Directory
Freelance Writers/Designers Directory
Direct Freelance
Web Designers Directory
Health Professionals Directory
Non-Profit Consultant Directory

Check out LOTS more here!

Your Company Facebook Page

If you’re at the stage where you’re ready to separate your personal profile from your professional page, then your nice statement needs to appear prominently on the info tab. People don’t want to read your entire history and mission statement on Facebook. The niche statement gives them just enough so that they’ll “Like” you and click through to your actual site to learn more.

LinkedIn, BranchOut, Elance.com, Guru.com, etc…

(FYI: BranchOut is a Facebook app that’s very similar to LinkedIn). Putting your new niche statement on your profile acts like a tiny 24-hour billboard, and ensures that your messaging is consistent no matter how people find you. If you’ve already got a pretty solid profile on a couple of professional networking sites, think about delving deeper and using your niche statement as a way of introducing yourself to niche groups or even individuals that you don’t know personally, but would like to have as a professional contact.

Bios Galore

No matter what kind of site you’re subscribing to or listing yourself on, everyone wants a bio these days. Use your niche statement on your own website, your Twitter page, Cohere bio, and anywhere else you’re given two lines to talk about yourself and what you do.

In what other places/situations can you see your nice statement coming in handy? (Printed materials don’t count ;)

Image Credit: MoneyTalksOnline.com

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