A large part of generating business as a freelance consultant is setting yourself apart from all the other consultants out there. While you might think of yourself as a “jack of all trades,” the most effective way to differentiate yourself is to market yourself as a niche expert.
We’ll walk you through 6 actionable tips you can use to start positioning yourself as a niche expert today.
Why Should Freelance Consultants Niche Down?
Many new freelance consultants make the mistake of casting too wide a net. They want to cover every angle to best improve the odds of closing deals. After all, if you niche down, won’t that close the doors to tons of potential business? Quite the opposite.
As of 2021, around 42% of the workforce is made up of freelancers. This number is projected to increase to over half by 2027. Being a niche expert is the primary way you’ll set yourself apart from all the other consultants out there.
Further, branding yourself as a niche expert gives potential clients a reason to hire you and pay you the big bucks. Experts are more trustworthy and worth a higher dollar amount.
The one caveat to this is that it’s essential to choose a profitable, growing niche. Biotech, cryptocurrency, and renewable energy are all strong examples of niches. Using your industry and work experience, come up with a niche you know well and that is profitable.
6 Tips For Positioning Yourself as a Niche Expert
Tip 1: Be Specific
First, you need to figure out how to position yourself as a freelance consultant within your niche. Throughout your career, you’ve amassed skills. Consider your job role, the parts of it you enjoy, and the types of companies you like to work with when you’re figuring out your niche.
For instance, say Sally’s spent the last eight years as a Senior Digital Marketing Lead for a large B2C pet care company. While she enjoys digital marketing more generally, her favorite part is coming up with content strategy, from social media to blogs to paid ads.
Compare the following positions:
- Content Strategist for tech companies
- Content Strategist for B2C pet tech companies
While both niches are relevant, the second is far more specific. It brands Sally as both an expert in content strategy and the B2C pet tech space. There are likely far fewer expert B2C pet tech strategists than broader content strategists, so Sally sets herself apart from the competition more easily.
Tip 2: Work Samples
Every freelance consultant needs work samples. These can be deliverables, such as articles written, or impact made, such as statistics on revenue or growth from your career.
In the freelancing world, we refer to this display of work samples as a portfolio. Portfolios are the best way to brand yourself as a niche expert and give potential clients all the reasons they need to reach out to you.
Unfortunately, many freelancers struggle to create a winning portfolio because, well, website building is tough! Luckily, Mylance can help. We’ll build you a professional website in a few minutes that allows you to showcase niche expertise and generate business.
Tip 3: Industry Experience
Alongside your freelance consulting portfolio, you’ll want to include work experience on your website. This speaks directly to your niche expertise and demonstrates how you’ve built it over time.
Industry experience includes work history and any outside-work time (paid or unpaid), such as mentoring or serving on boards.
If your portfolio doesn’t already include the tangible impact you’ve made throughout your career, use industry experience to do so. Include relevant numbers on how you boosted revenue, growth, or anything in between.
Your industry experience should be as thorough as possible while focusing on your chosen niche.
Tip 4: Outstanding References
You may be the most experienced in your chosen niche, but social proof is essential for proving that to prospects who haven’t yet worked with you. 84% of shoppers check online reviews before purchasing -- as a consultant, you’re encouraging shoppers -- or potential clients -- to buy your consulting services!
When building your freelance consulting business, contact colleagues or others you’ve worked with who can write a thoughtful testimonial for you.
These references should highlight the impact you made, your niche expertise, and how easy it is to work with you as a person. It’s normal to go back and forth on references and ask that the person include certain aspects of your performance.
Tip 5: Staying Relevant
Industries change over time. One essential way to establish yourself as a niche expert is to stay apprised of the changes to your chosen area of expertise.
In reality, this looks like:
- Following relevant blogs, podcasts, or other commentaries on the space
- Reading news articles on changes to the space
- Engaging in thoughtful dialogue and sharing your opinions (more on that with tip 6)
If you hop on a call with a prospect who asks you questions about the space or seeks your advice, you want to provide relevant information. Being uninformed of information specific to your niche discredits your authority.
When we mention “spaces” or “industries,” these can be hard skills such as SEO, digital marketing, or product management, but they can also include traditional industries such as cryptocurrency, healthcare, or fintech. Ideally, your niche expertise consists of both, such as “SEO blogging expert for B2B fintech companies.”
Tip 6: Branding as a Thought Leader
One of the most overlooked ways to position yourself as a freelance consulting niche expert is to become a thought leader. While most people believe you need to amass thousands -- or tens of thousands -- of followers before you can generate leads, that isn’t necessarily the case.
Small but dedicated audiences + thoughtful, insightful content = leads, not a gigantic follower count.
Use social media sites such as LinkedIn or Instagram and share your thoughts on your space. These thoughts could take the form of text, images, or video. Stay specific and relevant to your niche, and address any questions.
Check out our article on why freelancers need social media.
Positioning yourself as a freelance consultant with niche expertise sets you apart from the competition and gives prospects elevated confidence in your services. Using these 6 tips, you can begin the process of positioning yourself accordingly.