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The Secrets of Finding Your Ideal Clients and Niche

theoriginalbpc profile image Sarah Bartley ・6 min read

Originally published April 4, 2018 on The Original BritishPandaChick. I made tweaks to the original post so it would work for Code Newbie.

Today’s post is looking at the second lesson of Skillcrush 300. Skillcrush 300 is all about figuring out your niche and ideal client. During this post, I’ll share some of Skillcrush’s tips to figuring out what niche is right for you and what your ideal client looks like. Once you have a picture of your ideal client in your head, I will review some of the tips for deciding what your services will be and writing a positioning statement so you can start finding clients.

What are niche and ideal clients?

Skillcrush defines a niche as a small, focused area of specialization. Freelancers define their niche first then select a small group of people within this niche to work with. These are your ideal clients. Ideal clients are people who want both your expertise and experiences.

Why freelancers establish a niche?

Before you can start reaching out to clients, it is important to take a few minutes to figure out what niche and clients you want to focus on. It might seem strange to focus on one group than targeting everyone in the world, but this something every freelancer does. Freelancers who figure out what niche they want to target and what their ideal client is more likely to land clients vs someone who tries to advertise their services to everyone.

Think of freelancing as a giant dartboard. When you throw darts at a dartboard, you don't target the entire board hoping it hits one spot. Chances are you target a specific area such as the center of the board or a numbered area to score points. By having a specific area in mind you want to hit, you are more likely to hit that spot.

Having a specific niche isn't just a way of ensuring you make money.

A clear niche allows you to think about your clients' needs and tailor your services to help them. Clients within your niche will value and understand the expertise you bring. Skillcrush reminds students that clients often feel that their challenges are unique and difficult so a specialist is appealing to them. It reassures them that someone understands them and what they do.

Your niche isn't just good for your clients. It is also helpful for freelancers since it lets them work with clients you want to work with, less competition, and less stress. Freelancers can also generate more word of mouth growth which means making money consistently.

Most importantly it helps build a freelancer's confidence. The challenges a niche faces will be similar, giving you lots of opportunities to figure out the right approach you want to use. In order to help you figure out your ideal niche, Skillcrush outlines a few questions to help students figure out the right niche for you. The questions are meant to help you define your niche once.

Take a look at this Venn diagram. The purpose of the Venn diagram is to show students where the circles overlap. That overlap is where your niche and ideal clients are.

Venn Diagram showing where the sweet spot in the middle of the overlapping 3 circles for People You Know, People You Want to Work With, and People that Can Pay You

Now onto the questions!

Below are the questions Skillcrush has students answer in order to help them figure out the right niche. Although these answers to these questions might change over time, the goal of these questions is to serve as a starting point and help you consider what your clients are as well as how you can help them.

  • What industries are you most interested in?
  • What size companies do you want to work for?
  • What sector are you most interested in?
  • Who do you know that could benefit from your expertise?
  • Who are some people/companies that would be a dream come true to work with?
  • Who are some people/companies that can afford to pay you the big bucks?

Figure Out Your Services

Once you have figured out your niche, it is time to figure out what to offer your clients. This will become the services. You will have a specific focus for your services, but you can offer other specialties that fit within that specific focus. Many freelancers will offer other tasks that don't quite fit their specific focus, but they are qualified to do.

For example, a freelance web developer would have web development as their key focus. Within this focus, a person can offer to build pages, sites, and more for clients. These services all fit under the web development mindset but are more specific services clients can choose from. I've seen some freelancers offer copywriting, social media, and branding among their services.

Skillcrush helps students decide on what services they want to offer by providing a list of questions to help them figure out what services they should offer. Freelancers do not try to do it all since it isn't fair to both parties. The worse that can happen is you burn out doing too much or do work you don't want to do. Below are the questions Skillcrush recommends for their students.

  • What pain points do they want to be solved most often?
  • What needs do they have that they've been unable to do themselves?
  • What's the real value you're bringing to the table? (This might be more than the website. This can look like customers, customers who are a better fit, e-mail subscribers, etc.)
  • What other skills do you have that could be valuable to the client? This could be a template that matches a logo.

Create a Positioning Statement

Once you have your services, it is time to write the positioning statement. A positioning statement simply introduces your brand and services to your niche audience. This statement helps you be clear on who you are targeting and help them be successful as possible.

Skillcrush sees the positioning statement as a compass since it guides you to the right clients. It is a point of reference freelancers often refer to as they make copies of their sites and social media accounts. Think of it as a summary or movie trailer to why clients should choose you for your project.

A positioning statement looks different for every freelancer.

Different niches and clients require different services. Freelancers also have different schedules which can also affect the services they offer to their clients. Regardless of what freelancer you look at, every statement has three things. These items would be ideal clients, needs, and how they meet their needs.

For example, there's a freelance front-end web developer named Jubilee Austen who wants to work within the education industry with entrepreneurs. She wants to make websites for online tutors. Her positioning statement might look like the following.

"I want to help tutors get more students by creating easy to navigate websites that showcase their services, testimonials, and promotions."

If you look closely at this statement, the word tutors lets a prospective client know who she is targeting. Mentioning "get more students" lets the client know she understands what their needs are. Finally, the "creating easy to navigate websites" portion of the statement lets her target clients know how she can help them meet these needs.

Conclusion

Congratulations! Now you have a niche in mind and began to form a mental picture of what your ideal client might look like. You can now start figuring out what services you want to offer and creating a positioning statement to help you start targeting them.

As I review the rest of Skillcrush 300, you'll be referring back to all this information often and possibly modifying one or both of these as you gain more experience. Tomorrow, the next lesson of Skillcrush 300 is all about pricing. I'll be reviewing some of the most important parts of this lesson including figuring out the right way to price your services and setting up a service page.

Discussion (1)

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Andrew Baisden

Lots of good info here thanks for sharing them.