Mar 23 / Matt Saunders

Work is Boooring

Want more freedom, income and joy from your freelance business? Pick a niche.
You can't be self-employed for more than one minute and not hear the advice "pick a niche".

But my advice on niching is different from what others are saying. It's a lot more popular among my clients and is focused on building a business that is both profitable and joyful.

In this article I'm going to share my approach so you can choose a niche from the heart, and stick with it.

90% of my work was boring

Man yawning
After a decade working as a freelance web developer, I realised most of what I did was boring. Websites for estate agents, corporate OCR software, a bathroom tiles manufacturer.


It's not that the creative part of my work was boring; I absolutely loved the craft of design (and still do).

But the work itself? There came a time when I began to question what I was actually doing.

And the answer was simple: I was engaged in work that didn't light me up. Sure, I enjoyed one part of it (the design) but because the work itself didn't inspire me, I was limited in the value I could create for the client.

And this is why I believe every solo creative needs to find their "thing"; so they can work with people who are doing things that inspire them to create their best work.

Values-based niching

Heart shape drawn by sparkler
Now, most people tell me that they don't really mind about the size or sector of their clients, but they do want people who are easy to work with, trust them, and pay them well. They want great client relationships. And this to me is where niching really comes into the conversation.

In short, fulfilment comes from working with people you resonate with, so it's important to know yourself before you go out into the world and start marketing your business. Ask yourself -

  • What qualities do I admire in others?
  • What sort of projects/products/services inspire me?
  • If money were no object, what would I be doing?

These powerful questions shine a light inward. They tell a story about you.

Once you've taken the time to get to know yourself you can then create messages, services and offers that resonate with like-minded others.

This is your niche.

Most of us think niching is about simply choosing a sector. But many different people, with different values make up a sector, so it's a flawed premise. You want to define the sort of person you wish to work with (based on your own personality) and go after them.

My niche? I worked with small charities. But specifically, I was looking for people who were ambitious, innovative and focused on supporting young people. My core service (web design) didn't change much, but everything else did.

When I went this route, marketing got much easier. Selling was simple. Client relationships were wonderful. And my income tripled to over £100k in 2020.

Go deep, serve from the heart and you'll never question your client choices again.
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