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Choosing to specialize in a skill or industry often scares freelancers who fear closing doors. However, specialization can be a way to build a more solid business with higher rates and easier-to-convince clients. Forget the fear of locking yourself in a niche!

Marion Giraudon, an expert in digital strategy registered on Malt since 2015, shares her experience and advice as a digital strategy consultant and mentor for freelancers. Since 2018, she has been helping other freelancers start and grow their businesses, focusing on organization, administration, and the commercial side, often considered one of the greatest challenges. Discover her best tips below 👇

The debate on specialization

The fear of specializing is common amongst freelancers. Many think that focusing on a particular field could deprive them of potential clients. Freelancers often fear that specialization will trap them in a routine or prevent them from diversifying their projects. However, specialization presents real advantages such as the ease of creating an expert image and inspiring client confidence. Specialization does not mean giving up all other opportunities but rather focusing on strengths to stand out. It is possible to specialize by sector (e.g., tourism, health) or by type of service (e.g., SEO writing, web development).

The benefits of specialization

Specialization allows freelancers to understand their clients' specific problems more deeply, facilitating exchanges and increasing conversion chances. For example, by working with hospitality players, one can anticipate and solve problems unique to this sector, which helps gain client trust. Specialization also helps create a strong brand image essential to standing out in a competitive market.

By specializing, you create an expert image. Your prospects will be easier to convert because you know their market, anticipate difficulties, and can present concrete examples of your expertise. You will also save time on market research by focusing your efforts on a specific sector. This focus impacts your personal branding and communication, ensuring a constant presence and facilitating network development through word of mouth.

Thus, by opting to specialize in your sector or activity, you build an expert image that makes it easier to persuade prospects because:

  • You understand their problems.

  • You have already solved similar challenges for similar companies.

  • You possess deep expertise in the tools they use.

  • You are more confident, thus eliminating the impostor syndrome.

The result? Converting your prospects becomes an easier task. Moreover, on Malt, clients can filter by industry, which improves your referencing and positions you more easily in our algorithm. Therefore, it is advisable to have a single detailed profile if the skills are complementary or multiple profiles if the services are very different (e.g., if you do translation but also motion design).

Specialization also makes market research easier and less time-consuming. It allows you to work more serenely with competing companies because this practice is more accepted in a specific sector. It's a bit like in the series "Mad Men," where the advertising agency must choose between keeping a loyal small client or trying to secure a contract with an industry giant.

Sectoral specialization

Specializing in a specific sector allows you to master the particularities and issues of that field. For example, working exclusively with clients in the health sector allows you to develop a sharp expertise that will be greatly appreciated by these clients, thus increasing trust and recommendations.

Functional specialization

Specializing in a specific function, such as digital marketing or project management, allows you to become a recognized expert in that field. This makes it easier to convert prospects because you can show concrete examples of past successes and a deep understanding of tools and methodologies specific to this function.

The drawbacks of specialization

Specialization as a freelancer can offer many advantages, such as higher rates and better client conversion. However, it also has some drawbacks that are important to consider before making this strategic choice.

  • Limited market risk: Limiting yourself to a specific sector can reduce the number of potential clients.

  • Increased dependency: Your business can be strongly impacted by fluctuations and crises in your specialization sector.

  • Routine and boredom: Repeating the same types of projects can become monotonous and reduce professional satisfaction.

  • Barrier to entry: Achieving expert status requires time, effort, and sometimes financial investment in training and marketing.

  • Reduced adaptability: You might miss opportunities outside your specialization and have difficulty diversifying if the market changes.

  • Expertise pressure: As a specialist, client expectations are higher, which can increase pressure and stress.

How to define your specialization

Defining your specialization as a freelancer can seem complex, especially at the beginning of your career. This process often takes time to acquire advanced skills, determine what you are most passionate about in your work, and identify the type of clients you want to prioritize. Before restructuring your offer or launching your micro-business in a specialized field, ask yourself the right questions.

  • List your skills: Note everything you know how to do, your technical and professional skills.

  • Evaluate your preferences: Rate each skill based on your enjoyment of practicing them.

  • Identify interest sectors: Select five specific sectors and evaluate your interest in each.

  • Analyze opportunities: Assess the ease of entry, potential budget, and importance of your services for each sector.

Here are some additional steps to help you define your specialization:

  • Your specialist profile: In which field can you claim to be an expert? What type of service brings you the most pleasure or results? For what client profile?

  • Your specialty: Do you want to specialize in a specific issue, a broader industry, or a particular audience?

  • Your target and positioning: What will be your value proposition? What differentiates your offer from that of another freelancer? How will you reach your target?

Once your specialization is defined, you just need to be patient to be recognized in your market. Be aware that a specialized activity may take a little longer to develop since your offer is aimed at a smaller audience. However, over time you will undoubtedly become the go-to freelancer in your field, attracting a steady stream of prospects and loyal clients. Feel free to get known on social media, especially LinkedIn, to establish your reputation as an expert.

Specialization is a powerful tool for freelancers to stand out and gain client trust. For more information, you can contact Malt support for specific questions about the platform.