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9 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Specialize Your Freelancing Business… Yet

by Laura Spencer

on February 1, 2013

in Freelancing Basics

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You’ve probably already heard a lot about freelancing specialists. You’ve heard how they can charge more for their services. You’ve heard how they pick and choose only the clients in their specialty.

It all sounds pretty good, so naturally you want to specialize your freelancing business too. But wait. Are you really ready to become a freelancing specialist?

It is true that some freelancing specialists earn more than their generalist colleagues do. But many freelancers jump into specialization before they’re really ready.

In this post, I’ll list nine reasons why you may wish to remain a freelancing generalist. If you liked this post, you may also like When Should You Specialize Your Freelancing Business? and Which is Better for the Freelancer: Specialization or Diversification?.

You’re Not Ready to Specialize If…

While many experts will tell you that specialization is always the way to go, premature specialization can be a recipe for disaster. An over-specialized freelancer may actually earn less than his or her colleagues.

Here are nine instances when you should wait before you specialize:

  1. You’re new to freelancing and your field. If you’re new to freelancing and your field, you can benefit by trying a variety of projects before narrowing your focus down to a few specialties. Think of the variety of projects as trial runs for finding a specialty. Which projects did you like? Which ones were you good at?
  2. You’re just barely getting enough work to get by. To truly be a specialist, you’ll want most of your projects to fit into your specialized area so that you can build upon the experience you are trying to develop. However, if you’re just barely getting by you probably have to accept any reasonable work that comes your way.
  3. You know nothing about the area in which you wish to specialize. This one should be obvious, but it isn’t. For some freelancers the pressure to specialize (and earn more money) is so great that they jump into a specialty without really knowing anything about it. Do your homework first, and then specialize.
  4. You get bored when you do similar tasks over and over again. A side effect of specialization can be repetition–especially in fields like web design or programming. Some freelancers are at their best when they face a variety of tasks. If that’s you, then you might not be cut out for specialization.
  5. You don’t know whether there’s a market for your desired specialty. A key principle of business is that there must be a demand for a product or service. Before you decide to specialize your freelancing business, do some research to find out what the demand for that specialty is like.
  6. Everyone seems to be flocking to the area in which you wish to specialize. This could be a good sign, indicating that there is plenty of demand for the specialty. It could also mean that the market is over saturated with specialists in this area. To find out, ask some of the specialists whether they think there is enough opportunity.
  7. Your current clients ask you to work in several areas. If you rely on your current clients for a steady income and they need you to work on several areas, you may have to build up a larger client base before you can specialize. When you do specialize, be sure to outsource the work you no longer do or refer the work to other freelancers to keep your clients happy.
  8. You’re unhappy as a freelancer. If you’re unhappy as a freelancer, specializing probably won’t fix things. The first thing you need to do is figure out whether it’s freelancing you dislike or just the types of projects you are working on. If it’s freelancing, then you may wish to find a more traditional position. If it’s the type of projects, specialization may help.
  9. You’re a “big picture” person. Let’s face it, not everyone is cut out to be a specialist. If you tend to look at projects holistically and try to meet as many aspects of your client’s needs as possible, specialization probably isn’t for you. That’s okay, though. The world needs “big picture” people too.

Your Turn

Are you a freelancing specialist or a freelancing generalist? Which do you think is better for freelancers?

Share your thoughts in the comments.

Image by Flavio~

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About Laura Spencer

Laura Spencer is a freelance writer from North Central Texas with over 20 years of professional business writing experience. If you liked this post, then you may also enjoy LauraĆ¢??s blog about her freelance writing experiences, WritingThoughts. Laura is also on Google+.