Aug 15 / Matt Saunders

How to Find Your Niche in Graphic Design

Scratching your head about niching down? I've got your back - find your graphic design niche by following this simple, proven 3 step process.
When starting out in graphic design it's common to do the type of work that you're passionate about.

As a kid I used to sketch illustrations of weird and wonderful characters from my own imagination. I'd draw out scenes from my favourite TV shows such as Star Trek and The X-Files.

But as I grew, my attention turned toward games design, 3D graphics and eventually into UI design for websites.

Getting in touch with what internally motivates you is really important. So when it comes to niching down as a graphic designer, you'll need to connect your passion to something else that you care about so that your offering becomes more targeted and specialised.

Otherwise, you'll end up being a generalist like everyone else. And it's hard to stand out, attract ideal clients and command amazing rates when you're a generalist.

The commodification of graphic design

Businessman in suit
In a capitalist society design services are predominantly used to sell products. There is nothing wrong with that in itself - commercial design is supposed to communicate ideas, cultivate desire and prompt action.

But if you're only passion is for the craft of graphic design you might be in for a bumpy ride when it comes to choosing which projects to work on. There's a simple reason for this: if you don't define what you're going to use your skills for, your clients will.

Let's examine why that can be problematic.

Find your graphic design niche to protect your skills

It's wonderful to be passionate about creating stuff. Being able to visualise an idea then bring it to life is a unique and amazing human talent. But when our skills are commoditised by the market - by other people's goals - we often find that we're not doing the work on our own terms - we're doing it for someone else. And that can be detrimental to our passion for the work, because if you don't really care about what your work is going to be used for, you might not give it your all.

If this sounds familiar, you need a graphic design niche.

How to do work that you care about

Hands open covered in paint
Most designers love creative work and get a lot personally from the process of bringing their ideas to life.

But problems can arise when you throw other people into the mix. Clashes of opinion, shifting scope and tight deadlines can really damage a project.

But what if we could neutralise the source of these common problems?

The key is to use your skills on projects that mean something to you personally. To attract only clients with whom you resonate, working on projects that you're intrinsically motivated by.

In an ideal world, you wouldn't just be hired to create a logo or design a website. You would proactively seek clients and projects that make an impact on things that you care about.

The idea is to connect your passion for graphic design to something else that stirs your interests. You could be a branding specialist for golf products, a packaging designer for vegan food brands or an illustrator of interesting pieces of architecture.

There are buyers in every part of the market. Your task as a creative service provider is to link up what you can do with a personal interest.

And this is your niche, your little segment of the market to own 🤗
Watch a related video on niching down

How to find your niche in graphic design in 3 steps

Finding your graphic design niche is easier than you might think, but it requires that you follow a process. Luckily for you, I've mapped this out:

1. Look back into your past

Our past tells us a lot about ourselves. Not only does it chart where we've been, but it gives us clues as to where we might like to go.

  • What events have occurred in your life that impacted you in an  overwhelmingly positive way?
  • What have you done that's brought a sense of wonder, or magic into your life, even if for a short time?
  • What are you most proud of?

Write down everything you can think of.

2. Why did you write down these specific memories?

Lakes and mountains
Being reflective is a skill. What this exercise does is enable you to shed light on the meaning behind each positive memory.

What was it about that trip to the Lake District that inspired you? Why has that conversation from years ago stuck in your mind for so long?

Mind map your thinking onto a page with pen and paper so you can explore your thinking more deeply.

3. Look for common themes

Analyse what you have written down and look for commonalities.

Perhaps this process has revealed that you really love nature, or camping, or architecture, or animals, or playing board games, or eating seafood, or cars or... you get the picture. Some of this stuff you may already know, but perhaps something new has been revealed also.

And this is important because your personal history is peppered with clues about the things that light you up. This is the basis for your niche.
Niche intersection
I am a big believer that as a solo business owner you will ultimately create a business that flows from your personal values. So it is important to determine what is important to you, so you can intersect it with your skillset.

As a graphic designer who really knows themselves, you can now go out into the world and begin connecting with others who care about the same things as you do.

Identify this, lean into it, and you will find a niche that you can own.

[RELATED] Take my niche quiz to go deeper into this topic

Next step - finding your audience

Identifying your niche is just the first step in the process (albeit a fundamentally important one). Below are some resources to help you reach out and connect with your niche clients.

Created with