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How Niching down as a Designer can get you your next High-Paying Client

How Niching down as a Designer can get you your next High-Paying Client

  • Yusuke Imamura

Niching down to establish yourself in a specific area of design can highlight your importance to the high-paying client you seek. One of the most powerful ways to help you stand out is by focusing on a niche. 


What exactly does it mean? Does it mean an area that you focus on exclusively? Does it have to be an industry? Can you have more than one niche? How do you define it, and where do you begin? Does having a niche limit your clientele? What does having a niche mean for your career?




“Find your niche” means finding the very specific activity or position where you can find success or fulfillment and set yourself apart.


A niche helps you control your design (especially your style and message) so that the right type of people will come to you and the wrong type will not. What it entails is having to streamline down to the design work that most appeals to you, the design work that is known and known very well to you.


If your niche is so focused that your buyer knows immediately that it is precisely what they need, you have found your niche.


In addition to recognizing themselves in your messaging and marketing, they also feel instantly connected to the value you offer.


You want to stop this person in their tracks. Relieve their pain and pressure. Help them think, “Oh whew — what a relief. This designer understands just what I need.”


Your niche should be as specific as possible. The niche you sell doesn't have to be an industry. Instead, you have to get down to the small details that make your buyer who they are - a very small group of people.


Establishing yourself as a go-to expert in a specific type of design requires you have a higher skill level that makes it possible to have more work in the long run.



Finding a niche

There is a level of competition among designers and it's relatively massive and intense. Every potential client has at least a few designers they’re talking to or considering, if not more. Making the choice to niche down is a bold step toward grabbing attention and making yourself distinct from the crowd.


If you are suffering from eye-related problems and you see 10 doctors and one of them is an optician, It’s a no-brainer which doctor you need to see. The expert in the field related to the cause of your pain instantly becomes a wise decision rather than a general practitioner. The same applies to your design career.


Does this mean the potential clients you can reach have been reduced? Not necessarily.

Finding your niche keeps the unwanted clients away and makes you prominent to the clients that are in need of your skills to eliminate their pain. This works so well because it’s instantly identifiable, you instantly become the expert of need. Your potential clients are always willing to pay higher for such value.


While it is the best decision for your career as a designer, it’s not a straightforward call to make and this is so because they are a lot of choices to settle on from, you have your interests to be concerned about, and there is the demand to worry about and so on.


How do you go about picking a niche?


This is primarily based on your own expertise and skill set. You should first develop your individual talents and then determine where they can be applied. You may have a knack for designing book covers. Choose a niche within the boundaries of book cover design that you are confident you can succeed in. It is probably not a good idea to go into children's book illustration if your designs are mature. If your designs are humorous, you should definitely stay away from business books. 


Use your design category as well as personal style and tone to dictate which niche you choose. You can't be scared to explore, trial and error will do a lot of good. You can play around on contest sites to enter a bunch of different design contests and see which ones are most receptive to your work. This may help you find a useful pattern.


Starting with the lowliest common denominator is a good place to start, but you'll want to drill down more and more until your buyer has nothing else to turn to. You’ve to keep going at this till their jaws will drop and they'll wonder how you created an entire company tailored to their needs.


Suppose, for example, your 'niche' is small to medium-sized businesses with sales of 500k to 2m, with an eagerness to grow, and a willingness to invest in good business advice and technology. That’s still far too broad.


Keep drilling down.


Niche down software

Do people or businesses in this category have any particular traits? What tech do they use? What is the company's history? What is the location of the company? What issues and problems do they face?


Go as deep as you can possibly go. It helps to begin with an industry, and then add traits and characteristics and qualities until it almost seems ridiculously specific.


For instance “E-commerce business owners living in the US making 1k-5k dollars annually and run Facebook ads with bad designs and want to increase their conversion by 50%”. 


While this may seem laughable, you’ll get all the business owners that fit this description.


In general, the advice given is to find a niche that you are passionate about. But passion will get you just so far. What’s more important are:



Your background.

This will demonstrate to the client that you are aware of and experienced with their market. What client or sample information can you provide?

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Your networks.

The time it takes to strike up a conversation with a stranger will be reduced as a result. Whom do you already know?



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Your access.

This will make it so much easier to reach your prospects, saving you time and effort. Is there a ready resource available?


Experience, connections, and access are almost always more valuable than passion when you're trying to get the attention of your ideal clients. It is a minimum requirement to get one out of three. 2 out of three is better. And, of course, 3 out of 3 is ideal. But if you only have one, access is the most important.




It's okay to serve more than one niche...but I would not recommend more than two. The key to serving a niche well is to get into their head. How do they think? Can you tell me what their problems are? Do you have any answers to the questions they are asking?


The continual switching of your mental focus between several groups of people or companies is quite distracting. You can identify with this personally. Focusing on one kind of design for a certain market brings unparalleled clarity. Remember a time when you turn off your email notifications and silence your phone and put all your attention into a project you want to complete? The task that would have taken you several hours while being continually distracted ends up getting done in a few minutes. Focus gives you the greatest results.


This doesn't mean you can't try a variety of niches before deciding which one you want to focus all of your marketing efforts on.

For instance, there are numerous distinct segments or niches within the market for women's shoes. Shoes for plus-sized ladies, shoes for nurses, and shoes for vegan women would all fall under the category of niche markets. Almost every market can be further segmented or refined based on the unique requirements and preferences of its participants.


What if you have two areas you are near perfect in? 

I believe it makes perfect sense to have two niche websites for each of your two strong areas of expertise, let's say illustration and web design. In addition, if you're enthusiastic about a particular business, it's totally possible to start a second website in that sector and establish yourself as a recognized authority that clients can turn to.

The only disadvantage I can see is the effort that will take to market and gain visibility on both websites. But even that, it’s done easier when you have a niche.


Apart from that, working in a specialty has a lot of advantages, and you don't want to miss out on taking advantage of them.

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