Do you struggle with finding the kind of work you’re passionate about?
Right now you might take on client work, and it’s really anything you can get.
I’m sure you’ve heard about “niching down”, but how do you niche down on the right thing?
This is a very common situation to be in. It’s a struggle to first find what type of work you’re passionate about, but to then curate it to be the only work you’re accepting in your freelance business.
It’s scary to only offer one or two services as a freelancer. But it’s what you need to do to in order to grow.
If you want consistent work – work that you truly enjoy – then it’s time to find your creative passion and to go all in on one thing.
Digging deep to find your creative passion
What is it you love to do more than anything else that you could see yourself doing forever? Not what you think would be an easy life, but what you’re truly passionate about?
If you dig deep into your story – when you were younger – what interested you?
For me, I grew up skateboarding. I used to look through the old CCS catalogs at all the skateboard decks and t-shirt designs. I’d circle items, pretending this was an order I was going to call-in and place. (This was before online shopping was a thing.) The designs of these products and the different brands fascinated me. This is why over the past year I’ve been niching down and going back to my roots to design brand logos and t-shirts.
I know I’m not going to get rich from t-shirt designs, but I chose to specialize in it because I’m passionate about it.
I love everything about the process of t-shirt design, from designing them all the way down to the hem tag, and how they make you feel every time you put them on.
Compared to other design work like websites, t-shirts are low pay, high volume. Most designers would stick their nose in the air to work like this, because you can’t pay your mortgage with one project. That’s fine with me. I’ll gladly take this work because it excites me. I’ll just have to work harder to make it a livable income.
Following my passion is paying off, because I took the risk to niche down my services, and most importantly, I stuck with it. Because of this, I currently make a livable income from my design work (and with the help and support of my fiancé of course.)
Whether you’re stuck in a job not doing creative work, stuck doing creative work you don’t want to be doing, or you feel like you’ve hit a ceiling in the work that used to feel fulfilling — It’s time to find your true creative passion.
If you have a certain type of work in mind that you’d love to go all in on – give it a try. Even if you’re unsure of the type of work or if look up to a certain artist that does work you’d love to be doing one day yourself – give it a try.
Start validating ideas. See what sticks and what doesn’t. When you do find something you’re passionate about, go all in!
Sticking with one pursuit
Whether you know what your one thing is or not, it’s good to understand what to do once you’ve found it.
As scary as it’s going to be, it’s time to niche down and go all in.
If you must, pull all the work off your website that doesn’t fit your focused direction. If you’re no longer designing websites, remove them, because they’re no longer relevant to what you do or what your ideal client’s are in need of.
All irrelevant work and content on your website – gone. Now create or rework your brand around your niche.
Call yourself whatever you want, but when you focus and find the right words, you find opportunities.
When I rebranded my freelance business, I went from listing a paragraph of services to simply specifying, “I’m a freelance graphic designer specializing in logo and t-shirt design.” All my blog content, portfolio pieces, and online accounts reflect this. It’s what I want to be known for, so it’s important to curate my content around it.
Since I focused my portfolio and brand around logos and t-shirts only, I started landing more of that type of work – the work I enjoyed doing most!
It only makes sense. If I’m not displaying websites in my portfolio or if I don’t say I’m a web designer, why would a client come to me for websites?
Naturally, focusing your brand around what you want to be known for only attracts those type of projects. Don't be afraid to niche down.
— Brent Galloway (@BrentGalloway) October 3, 2015
Having the courage to turn around
After months, maybe even years of going all in, that passion you once had is now starting to fade. Before you feel like you’re stuck, know this too is a common struggle for creatives.
If you feel like you’re headed in the wrong direction with what you’re doing, you need to shift your focus immediately.
This is part of niching down, and it’s part of why it’s so hard to do.
You’re likely already working at what you love, or you’re in a tight situation that you’re afraid to tamper with (e.g. your day job.)
I started my freelance career by designing websites. That’s where I thought the money was made. But after years of pursuing it, I became less interested – to the point where I was hating the projects I had.
This realization scared me, because I’d come so far. I didn’t want to start over after years of building my brand as a website designer.
However, you can’t let your fear of starting over keep you from doing what you love.
We think when we’ve gone the wrong way for so long, we have to travel the giant distance back to the start. Don’t think of it like a “walk of shame.”
I believe if you take the leap of faith to do what you love, and if you choose to turn around, everything you’ve learned along the way will give you the head start on your true path to success.
The worst thing for you right now is to continue pursuing the wrong thing. Whatever it is you love doing most, don’t be afraid to shift and go all in again.
Stop messing around. Stop pursuing the wrong thing. Stop generalizing yourself.
Do everything you can to become known for what you want to do in life.
So what are you waiting for?
It’s okay to experiment and try different things in order to find your passion. Once you do find your one thing, throw yourself at it 100%. Brand yourself around it, create content around it, curate your social posts around it, and you’ll become known for it with time.
You get to define the box people put you in. Are you taking advantage of this opportunity?
It takes courage to niche down. You may be afraid of losing potential clients that are in need of a skill you have. But just because you know how to do something, doesn’t mean you have to showcase it.
The payoff for being hyper focused is well worth any risk.
If you have any particular questions or fears on finding your passion, niching down your services, or branding your freelance business, leave a comment below and let’s work through this together! I’m here to help as best as I can.