Have you heard that choosing a niche is the golden rule of freelancing? I hear that a lot. But I don’t subscribe to that philosophy at all. I want to bust that myth, and break down exactly why choosing a freelance niche can actually damage your career when you’re getting started.
Niches impose unnecessary limits
When you’re starting out in your freelancing career, it’s impossible to know what sector you’ll enjoy working in the most. Even if you have experience with a particular niche, maybe you’ll like another one just as much—or better.
This is not the time to be closing yourself off to opportunities.
But my objection here goes beyond limiting your enjoyment of your work… Choosing a niche could limit your career in general.
Let’s choose working as a photography for the healthcare industry as an example. Here are possibilities that would you put you out of work real fast:
- The market is small or nonexistent in your city
- There’s a market now, but it dries up in the future
- The market is (or becomes) too small to support you
- There are too many other, more experienced professionals to compete against
Did you notice that you have zero control over any of these possibilities?
A niche makes it harder to adapt
If one of these events occurs and dries up your clientele, you’ll end up with another problem: your portfolio site will be too exclusive to pivot. You won’t be able to grow to serve another industry. Other businesses you pitch will visit your site and assume you don’t want to work in their industry.
Does that sound worrisome?
You need variety within your portfolio as proof that you can provide what your prospective client needs, regardless of their sector. You want to demonstrate how versatile you are, so that they can easily imagine the benefit of working with you.
Take time to find out what you enjoy
Personally, I never chose a niche, and I have been pleased with my career. Maybe you’ll find out that, like me, you love working with clients from across industries!
Or, perhaps you’ll decide to specialize in the future. Niching down once you have a few years of experience can be a logical choice.
In the early days of your career, though, you don’t have enough experience, so choosing a freelance niche unnecessarily limits your opportunities. You haven’t explored enough different industries or your own preferences to warrant closing yourself off to work.
Take a few years to build your experience (and network!) by taking on a variety of projects. This path will give you the flexibility to grow your business that choosing a niche just can’t provide.
Your turn! What other dubious (or downright bad) advice have you gotten about building your freelance career? Let us know in the comments below!