This week I started Ran Segall’s course, The Six-Figure Freelance Designer. It’s a 12 week course that focuses on a different topic each week - we hit off Week 1 with Finding a niche.
Every design guru I follow has Finding a Niche at the ‘top of the list’. If you want to be a successful business, you have to specialise.
Specialising in a field or finding a niche to focus on, is how you build your position as an expert. While you decrease your relevance for everyone, you are going to become more valuable to people within your niche. You can charge a premium and ultimately are able to offer your clients more because you understand them and their business more thoroughly.
I have been dreading this exercise because in 10 years of freelancing, I haven’t worked for the same industry twice!
In the last 12 months I’ve worked with a coffee roaster, yoga and wellness coach, a conductor, an author and self-publisher. The one thing all of these projects have in common, is the client themselves.
They are small business owners and entrepreneurs who have little to no experience in branding or design.
Branding and marketing can be incredibly overwhelming even if you’re familiar with the industry. Expecting an author (who’s in his 70’s) to confidently publish his blog online requires a bit of guidance to say the least. (Happy to say, he nailed it. Go Des!)
What this ‘Finding your niche’ exercise has got me to reflect upon is that perhaps, it’s the type of person rather than the industry I need to focus on. I named my company The Design Dept because that's what I strive to be for my clients.
I want to be their Design Department.
I’m hired to come in and help founders set up their businesses. Small business owners don’t have the budgets to hire a big design agency but that doesn’t mean they should be satisfied with a cheap logo from the local officeworks either. They require a solid branding strategy just as much as any fortune 500 company needs one.
There is this beautiful space where The Design Dept gets to join the team. We collaborate. I create the design strategy, help get the work into production and finally leave the client with tools and resources to confidently put together the day to day design for their business.
I’m still told that choosing an industry is what I need to do. Working for the underdog is never going to make me a 6-figure designer - but who is going to help them if I don’t?
I wasn’t having much luck finding an industry to specialise in so I opted for a slightly different approach and thought I’d try out my elevator pitch instead - A more wordy way to explain your niche...
Check out this week's video for Chris Do’s three steps to create a memorable elevator pitch. I've summarised it for you...
Step one: What is the problem you solve?
Start with: You know when… Explain the problem
Step two: How do you solve it?
I do this to solve it…
Step Three: Proof.
End with: And here is some examples
This should be no more than 30 seconds and make sure it’s simple! There is nothing worse than using jargon that the person receiving may or may not understand! Once you’ve nailed it - practice, practice, practice - until it becomes the default response.
So here is my practice pitch...
You know how most small businesses don’t have the capacity to hire a full team to help launch their brand? I started a company called The Design Dept which helps fill those gaps. New businesses can focus on what they are good at whilst being confident their branding and design is being looked after, giving them the best start possible. So far, I have managed to surprise all of my clients by exceeding their expectation of what they are capable of achieving.
It's a work in progress but it's a start. Thankfully, we still have a few more weeks till we’ll be sharing a lift together!
If you have any tips for a killer elevator pitch then let me know!