Working in a design niche can be very rewarding as well as very profitable. Many graphic designers make a very good living by only servicing a very small demographic of clients.
In this week's episode of the Resourceful Designer podcast ,I discuss various niches, the benefits of working in one, and how not to limit yourself to just one market. I go into much more depth in the podcast but if you want to know some of what I talked about read on.
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a niche is A distinct segment of a market. A place, employment, status, or activity for which a person or thing is best fitted.
So what does that mean for us as graphic designers? A niche in the graphic design industry can be defined in three different ways.
A design niche is when you specialize in a particular section of the design industry. Like a designer who only designs logos, or one who specialises in direct mail campaigns, or one who only designs trade show booths. All of these specialize in their respective design niches.
A client niche is when you specialize in a certain demographic pertaining to the sector you serve. Examples are designers who only design for restaurants or those who specialize in designing for medical clinics, or musicians, or sports teams. The demographic you serve makes up the niche.
A location niche is the most common and many designers fall into this category without even thinking of it. A location niche is when you promote your services in a defined geographic location. A designer who promotes websites for Chicago-based businesses is in a location niche.
You become the expert: The main benefit of working in a graphic design niche is how you are perceived. If you service a particular niche, you are automatically viewed as being an expert in that niche.
Knowledge gained: By servicing a niche you gain valuable knowledge about the topic it covers. This knowledge can greatly help you and your clients when working on design projects.
Better referrals: Clients often talk to colleagues in their niche and referrals passed between them carry a lot more weight than normal.
You could charge more: As an expert in your niche, you can charge premium prices for the value you bring to your clients.
Imagine a dentist who wants a website for the new dental clinic she is opening. She looks for a web designer by asking her friends, family and peers for referrals. A friend recommends a great designer who created his music store website, while at the same time a fellow dentist recommends a designer who specializes in creating websites for dentists. Which one do you think would pique her curiosity more?
Now let's say the dentist decides to interview the two designers. The first designer listens to what the dentist needs and makes a few suggestions based on his knowledge and experience designing websites. The second designer listens to what the dentist needs but then uses her knowledge and experience dealing with the dental industry to suggest things the dentist hadn't even considered. Which one do you think would impress the dentist more?
When reviewing the two submitted quotes, the dentist takes into consideration her impression of the two designers and the value each can bring to her new dental clinic. Even if the second designer's quote is more expensive, there's a very good chance the dentist will still pick her because of her expertise in her niche.
So you see how choosing to work in a niche can be beneficial?
Let me tell you a secret... are you ready for it? Keep this to yourself mind you. You can work in more than one niche.
WOW, Mindblowing isn't it?
There is nothing stopping you from specializing in more than one niche. Perhaps you specialize in creating websites for dentists. Maybe you can use that knowledge to also specialize in websites for chiropractors, or hearing clinics. Much of the knowledge is interchangeable considering they are all medical clinics of some sort.
You could also specialize in completely different niches. Like designing for dog breeders as well as designing for motorcycle racers. There's nothing stopping you from having more than one speciality.
Sometimes, the farther you niche down the more of an expert you appear to be and the more you can charge for your service.
Perhaps your niche is designing T-shirts for sports teams. You could break that down into several smaller niches by marketing yourself as a designer who designs T-shirts for hockey teams, a designer who designs T-shirts for football teams, basketball teams, soccer teams.
Each one of these niches could have its own landing page on your website. Or better yet, have their own website.
Think about it. If someone with a football team wants a T-shirt and does an online search for suppliers. Chances are your football T-Shirt website will be much more appealing to them than a general sports T-shirt website.
So there you have it.
Choosing to work in a specific niche can be a great choice for a graphic designer. Just make sure you are passionate enough about the niche to make the most of it. If so, you could make a killing by servicing a small portion of the market.
After all, as the old saying goes, the riches are in the niches.
Let me know your thoughts? Please leave a comment for this episode.
This week's question came from Don;
Do you work with dual monitors? At what point does multiple screens become nonsense.
To hear what I told Don, you'll need to listen to the episode.
I would love to answer yours in a future episode of the podcast. Submit your question by visiting the feedback page.
CreativeLive is a great resource for expanding your design knowledge. They offer a wide selection courses and classes at reasonable prices related to graphic design. CreativeLive also offers FREE Live and On Air classes on a regular basis. Simply register for the class you want and watch it for free when it's offered.
At the time I'm writing this they have upcoming free classes on Designing a Proposal, Hand Lettering, Graphic Design Fundamentals, Building Infographics, as well as courses for many of the Adobe Creative Cloud programs.
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Running a graphic design or web design business all by yourself isn't easy. If there are any struggles you face running your design business please reach out to me. I'll do my best to help you by addressing your issues in a future blog post or podcast episode here at Resourceful Designer. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org