Which is Better for the Freelancer: Specialization or Diversification?

You’ve probably heard it said time and time again: finding the right specialty is the key to having a successful freelancing business.

If you’ve read any business advice recently, it may seem that everyone from bloggers to textbook authors to marketing specialists is touting the advantages of choosing a specialization to small business owners.

My question for you today is: what do you think about specialization and freelancing Is being specialized as important to freelance success as many people seem to think that it is?

I can see arguments for both specialization AND diversification and I’ll share them with you here.

Five Advantages of Having a Specialty

A specialized freelance business gives you fewer things to worry about. Here are five other advantages to specializing your freelance business:

  1. Your initial learning curve is less steep since you are focusing on learning about a single area.
  2. Your projects are likely to be similar and it will be easier for you to apply what you learned in one project to the next one.
  3. You will develop an expertise in a particular area and you can charge more for your services.
  4. Your advertising costs will be lower since you are targeting a single segment of the market and need to advertise in fewer places.
  5. Your startup costs may also be lower since you can spread the costs for similar projects over many clients.

Key point for specialization — Make sure that there is adequate demand for your services. Some freelancers overspecialize and find that there is no market for their product or services.

Five Advantages of Diversifying Your Freelance Business

In a troubled economy, diversification may help a struggling freelancer stay afloat. Here are five other advantages to diversifying your freelance business:

  1. You will not be tied economically to one specific segment of the market. (If you’re too specialized and the area that you specialize in is struggling, then your business will struggle too.)
  2. You’ll have increased opportunities for sales and revenue because your target market will be larger.
  3. As your customer base increases you may also be able to sell your existing services or products to your new customers.
  4. You’ll have less downtime since you’ll be getting projects from several different market segments.
  5. You will always working on something different and therefore are less likely to become bored.

Key point for diversification - Don’t spread yourself so thin that you can’t do anything well. Quality is still key!

Is Your Freelancing Business Specialized or Diversified?

Personally, I would say “yes, my business is both.

Let me explain what I mean by that

I am somewhat diversified because I do not focus on a single type of writing, but rather do several types of writing and even some editing. For example, although I’ve written literally hundreds of blog posts and web content articles over the past few years a significant part of my income also comes from developing course materials for business professionals.

On the other hand, I am also somewhat specialized because most of what I’ve written or edited, whether it be web content, marketing material, training materials, or other types of writing is based on my overall business knowledge. I guess that you could say that my specialty is writing about various aspects of business.

Is your freelance business specialized or diversified?

Share your experiences and opinions on which option is better for a freelancer.