Another great article. This one should cause some of us to think about our services. Recently, I have looked at the services I offer to see what’s working and whats not working. I am looking to branch out to offer more in-demand services. Thanks for the article!
Does Your Freelancing Business Meet a Need or Demand?
Posted January 23, 2013 in Getting Started
But all those freelancing perks can distract you from one vital business truth. That truth is this: If you are to succeed as a freelancer, your freelancing business must meet a need. Or at the very least, someone has to want what you have to offer.
Too many times, I read about freelancers who want to work only on a very specific type of project, but have no real clue as to whether that type of specialized work is actually needed (or wanted).
In this post, I’ll explain why it’s important for your freelancing business to meet a need or demand. I’ll also list some ways for you to find out whether there is a need or demand for your specialized services.
Freelancing Is Your Dream Job–Maybe
So, you want to write only about robots. Or draw images of clouds. Or focus on web designs that integrate music. But no company seems to want to hire you to do those types of projects. It’s time to become a freelancer, right?
Wrong–maybe. As freelancers, we talk a lot about having the ability to choose our own projects and it’s true, to an extent. Freelancing could be your dream job. But just because you want to do something, doesn’t automatically mean that you can earn a living as a freelancer doing it.
Not only must someone want what you are offering they must be willing to pay for it. If no one is willing to pay for the products or services that you are offering, your freelancing business won’t last very long. And for many freelancers, this is the missing link to success. They forget to take market demand into consideration when planning their business.
How can you find out whether anyone is willing to pay for the type of work you want to do?
How to Tell Whether There Is a Need or Demand
Determining whether there’s a need or demand for what you want to do might seem like a difficult task, but there are some steps you can take as a freelancer.
First of all, when considering whether to offer a freelance product or service ask yourself the following questions:
- Is anyone else doing it? Use the search engines to find the websites of other freelancers who offer products or services similar to what you are planning to offer. If you find that there are freelancers already offering products or services in your chosen specialty, chances are that someone is hiring them. Be careful though, if there are too many competitors in your field already, it may be oversaturated.
- Is anyone searching for it online? You can use the search engine to find out whether people are looking for products or services that you are thinking about offering. Google Trends is a great tool for this. For example, when I typed the words “content curation” into the tool I saw that there has been a growing interest in content curation, starting in 2010.
If you have a little more money, you could also conduct a survey or hire a focus group to determine whether there is interest in your products and service and even determine how much potential clients would be willing to pay.
Both approaches require that you reach a sample of your intended market with key questions. For most freelancers, a survey would be the least expensive option although a focus group may offer the most detailed information.
There are a number of online survey tools available for little to no cost. Be sure that your survey includes the questions about the following crucial points:
- General information about who is taking the survey
- Their level of interest in the products or services you wish to offer
- How important they think it is that those products are available
- The amount of money they would be willing to pay for the products or services
Once you have created a survey, it’s important to get a sizeable sample of your potential clients. You could use social media to promote your survey, or even take out ads on websites that potential clients are likely to read.
Have you specialized your freelancing business? How did you find out whether there was a need or demand for your services?
Share your experiences in the comments.
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January 23rd, 2013 at 11:29 am
January 23rd, 2013 at 12:33 pm
I think people get caught up in specialization and sometimes it becomes a trap. I’ve heard freelancers say, “I won’t take that, it’s not my specialty,” and then complain about not having enough work.
January 23rd, 2013 at 10:17 pm
I haven’t really specialized in the skills I offer — I’m pretty broad: print and web, writing, design, photography, video, audio. Oh, and proposal writing.
What set me apart is my experience. I have 30+ years of experience, in both print AND web communications. That means I look at everything a client is doing, not just their website. Also, I’ve seen a lot of trends come and go, so I don’t get too excited about the “latest and greatest” until it’s proven successful.
The other thing that sets me apart is the service I give to my clients. I take care of them as if I were doing this for my own business. I know how much it means to them, how hard they work, and what it takes to earn the dollars they’re spending with me. I work very hard to earn their trust.
Early in my freelancing career, I was told by another writer that if I developed a reputation for meeting deadlines on time, I’d have no problem with my business since most writers in our city miss their deadlines. I think that’s pretty sad.
January 24th, 2013 at 9:29 am
Experience is a great way to distinguish yourself from other freelancers. Actually specialization isn’t all bad either–as long as there is a demand for it.
It is sad that most writers in your city miss their deadlines. It sounds like you’ve done a good job at branding yourself as a reliable freelancer.
January 24th, 2013 at 9:35 am
I agree. However, you probably shouldn’t offer a service you don’t have knowledge of. In some cases, you can experiment, but I think you would be wasting the clients time trying to figure it all out. I think its best to be honest upfront, that way you can avoid any issues with the client later on.
January 24th, 2013 at 9:39 am
That’s true, there are some kinds of writing I won’t do for that reason. But you’re in a trap if you know that you can do the work, but you’d rather not because you’re waiting for something more like your dream project.
January 28th, 2013 at 6:15 pm
Hey there! I’ve been following your web site for a while now and finally got the bravery to go ahead and give you a shout out from Houston Tx! Just wanted to say keep up the good job!
January 29th, 2013 at 7:39 am
An amazing article that takes me straight to the drawing board. I have never thought about this from this perceptive and honesty i think i have only been meeting a need which was in this case to make money. Thanks for sharing this and i hope by the next time i will be coming back here my i will have different goals and objectives for my blog and websites.
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