As a service provider, who's built a pretty successful solo practice on being flexible with the kinds of clients you can work with, the idea of ruling out certain clients in favor of others might seem a little backwards to you. Even though you find yourself hustling a lot more than you care to, and your client schedule is as unpredictable as the East Coast's weather; you're at least content in knowing your bills are paid and you can go out for sushi dates when the mood hits (Valentine rolls, warm sake and edamame FTW!).
But let's be real: the erratic work schedule? The one-off, small-budget gigs? The mild panic attacks when a new referral hasn't come in after a few weeks? It's getting old. Not to mention, all that stress is starting to show up on your forehead.
So I want to challenge you to hop off the hamster wheel -- at least for a moment -- and look at why you need to hyper-focus your expertise and be more selective about who you're working with.
It means your work gets a helluva lot easier
You've been positioning yourself as a generalist for the last umpteen years, and it's been bringing you steady income. It's also brought you clients from vastly different fields, industries, and backgrounds, that you either have no freaking clue about or have zero interest in. As such, you've had to spend an unseemly amount of hours just learning about them -- usually before you've even landed the gig; or you've had to drudge through your work, wanting desperately for it to be finished.
Don't get me wrong -- if you enjoy the challenge of tackling a new niche and essentially reinventing the wheel every single time you take on a new client, far be it from me to tell you to do otherwise. But if you're interested in saving yourself some precious non-billable time, here's what I recommend:
It means your marketing can be a helluva lot smarter
When you have a solid focus on who you really want to work with, you're able to hone in on what they want, what they're looking for, and what their next logical steps will be. Essentially, this means knowing what offers, what content, and what messaging will resonate with them. As a marketer (yep, I just called you a marketer, get used to it), this makes your job so much easier, because it only boosts your chances of bringing more of the right people to your door and getting a yes when it's time to make an offer.
It means you can charge a helluva lot more
In addition to talking to the right people, hyper-focusing your expertise means you get exceptionally good at doing something in a way that no one else can (or will). That makes you a specialist, which means you can charge specialist rates. That isn't to say you should jack up your prices to be unreasonably high. But it does make the value of what you offer that much clearer, and therefore that much more desirable.
Now let's put this into context with a story
Danielle is a ridiculously talented portrait photographer, who's worked with women, men, couples, event planners, caterers, corporate marketing teams, you name it. She's built a damn fine hustle with being so versatile and having clients who sing her praises.
At first it was fun -- exhilarating even. But after a few years of this, Danielle is exhausted. Not only is her schedule jam-packed with gigs (most of it happening during the evenings and weekends); but she's also mentally drained because she's not really interested anymore in the kinds of clients she's working with.
After doing some mind-mapping, she realizes that she loves working with women -- particularly ones who are going through a major life change, and either need a boost in self-confidence or want to celebrate themselves. So Danielle decides to hyper-focus her portrait expertise on boudoir photography, instead, which encompasses everything she loves about the work she does. She revamps the packages on her website, updates her portfolio, and changes her social media profiles to reflect her new direction.
Now, she still gets booked for weddings and works with individuals and couples; but it's through the lens of her boudoir specialty. Since revamping her packages to resonate with a more specific niche, she's actually earning more for her services and able to work with fewer clients. And since her portfolio is brimming with beautiful boudoir shots, she's also got the attention of a few lingerie brands that want to hire her for some commercial work.
Danielle's shift in focus may have cost her some clients. But that pales in comparison to what she's gained in time, income and the renewed sense of freedom she has in her work.
Over to You
Have you been thinking about how you can hyper-focus your expertise to become more valuable to your current and future clients? What's kept you from making it happen? Tell me all about it in the comments below.
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