How do you specialise?

It's the done thing, apparently

You've seen all the "experts" tell you that "the riches are in the niches" (if you pronounce it that way).

But the idea of positioning yourself like that is terrifying.

Turning away clients? Saying no?

It's hard enough getting clients as it is.

However, without even realising it, you're already doing it.

Every time you write a custom proposal, you're doing the same task.

You're positioning yourself as the expert.

In a niche of one.

Your proposal is a sales document, telling your prospective client that you know what they want, you understand why they want it and you have a plan to deliver it for them.

Because the proposal is a one-off, it doesn't feel like you're excluding others.

But because the proposal is a one-off, it also takes you a load of time to write.

All niching does is save you time by generalising your proposal writing.

Instead of a new sales document, custom-written for every client, you're saying "I've already got one for this group of clients".

Write once, use many.

If you want to attract several groups of clients, you just research them, find out what they're looking for and write a proposal for each group in turn.

You don't have to exclude anyone you don't want to.

You're just saving yourself time.

Perfectly positioned.

Charge more

if you want a happier life

If I could only give you one piece of advice, it would be this.

Charge more.

Some clients will complain.

It will feel uncomfortable.

It might make your "hourly rate" seem astronomical.

But charging hourly is harmful for both you and your client.

Bad for your client as they does not know how much they are going to pay. And once the project has started you have them at your mercy.

Bad for you because you have no incentives to get better at your craft, learn new tools and techniques. It's better for you to work slowly.

Ultimately, it comes down to this.

Clients don't care about your hourly rate.

They only care about the results you deliver. And when you deliver them. And how much grief they have to put up with in order to get them.

Who do you think the client would prefer?

The person who charges $1000/hour and works for 10 hours to deliver a $1,000,000 result?

Or the person who charges $10/hour and works for 1000 hours to deliver that same result?

Do you think the client would even believe that someone who charges so little could deliver a $1,000,000 result? Or that someone who charges so little won't need a whole load of hand-holding, cajoling and management?

So charge more.

- Do your research.

- Know your clients, understand what they are looking for and what it's worth to them.

- Learn what stops them from buying and what makes them feel safe.

- Focus in a method of delivering what they are looking for as quickly as possible. No frills, no extras, just the results.

Look at your prices.

And charge more.

How can I keep my client from requesting one update after another?

Shoot them?

We've all been there.

We think we've done the work, but the client comes back with a change request. Fair enough. So you make the change and they come back with another. And another. And another.

Where do you draw the line?

How can you politely say enough is enough?

Ultimately, this is something you can only answer at the beginning of the project.

Firstly, you have to set expectations, set your boundaries. Make it clear how the project will be run, how change requests are dealt with. How your experience and expertise are going to guide the client to success.

Secondly, you need to understand the objectives of the project. The true objectives of the project - not the vanity objectives, but the business reasons.

Because, if the changes the client want are aligned with those objectives then it's vital to the project success that you deliver them. But if the request won't move you further to the objectives, or if you believe the client doesn't really know how to get to those objectives, then you can step in and say "as an expert in this field, this will not help you".

The key word being "expert".

Be the expert and show the client where the boundaries are drawn.

Advice for new web developers

Seven tips in all

I was recently asked for my one piece of advice, if you're just starting out as a web developer.

That was easy.

"Code is easier to write than it is to read. So do your future self a favour and put in some extra effort to make that code readable."

Ash collected six other pieces of advice and you can read them here:

7 tips for new web developers

What do you do when your client treats you like crap?

It's not OK

Is the client always right?

What if they constantly change their mind? If every other request is "make the logo bigger?". If they wait two weeks to reply to your emails and then expect you to have the work done in ten minutes? If they pay late? If they don't pay at all? If they're a bully? Or just a massive dick?

The fact is you chose to work for yourself.

And that means you get to choose the terms of engagement.

You can set the rules.

“You get two revisions”.

“The headline is more important than the logo so we prioritise that”.

“As stated in the welcome pack, as you did not respond within five working days, I've had to move the deadline back by two weeks”.

“Our payment terms are quite clear”.

“Violation of those terms will result in legal action”.

“I think you would be better off taking your business elsewhere”.


Remember, you're the expert. You get to choose.

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