If you start out as a freelancer, you probably want to concentrate on getting your first jobs and don't think much about your own positioning. But sooner or later, it makes sense to focus on this topic and clearly define your offer. Here you can find out why this is the case and how to go about it.
What does positioning mean?
Through your positioning, you distinguish yourself from other freelancers. You have a specific offer that potential clients can recognize and associate with you. You don't offer everything to everyone, but define a target group to whom you offer exactly what they need. This is based on your strengths, of course: You do what you’re best at.
But positioning is not just about your skills. It's also about how you communicate the benefits of your skills to your potential clients. If you only advertise your skills, many clients won't understand why and how you can help them.
Why a clear positioning is so important for freelancers
When you build a personal brand, you give yourself more visibility. This makes it easier for you to attract clients - and not just any clients, but the ones that suit you. They know your positioning and can assess whether they want to work with you.
In addition, a clear offer usually allows for higher fees. Your work and your skills are perceived as more valuable because you have positioned yourself as an expert. If, on the other hand, you offer all sorts of things, it's hard for potential clients to see whether you're really qualified to help them.
And another benefit is that by having a niche, there's automatically less competition for you. While there are many developers, designers or copywriters out there, there are only a few with exactly your positioning. Of course, your target audience is smaller, but you're the right person for them.
How to define your offer
But how exactly do you go about positioning yourself as a freelancer? The following steps are important:
- Self-assessment: Take a close look at your skills, strengths and experience. What are you particularly good at? Think about the areas in which you can achieve results for your clients that make a difference.
- Market research: Look at the freelance market and identify gaps or niches where there isn't a lot of competition yet. Which of these could you cover?
- Target audience: Which clients do you want to work with? They should fit your skills and preferences, and at the same time the target group should be large enough for sufficient demand and growth opportunities.
- Offer definition: On this basis, you can define what you want to offer. In doing so, it's important to develop a value proposition, which means the value you promise to your customers. Ask yourself: What problems will be solved and what results will be achieved?
- Messages: Develop messages that appeal to your target audience and that you want to be known for. They form the foundation of your personal brand.
- Portfolio: Your portfolio should primarily (or even better, exclusively) include projects that match your chosen positioning. With case studies and success stories, you can convince your potential clients that you can help them too.
Your positioning should always be present, for example, when you post on professional networks like LinkedIn or introduce yourself to others at events. This way, people will associate you with it and have you in mind when they or someone else is looking for someone with your offer.
Determining the type of offer
The next aspect is not a core element of your positioning, but very important when defining your offer: How do you want to work? Do you want to do larger projects for clients and commit to one client for months? Or do you provide ongoing support to several clients on a smaller scale? This depends in part on the type of service you offer, but in part it’s up to you to decide.
You should also consider whether you prefer to work on an hourly basis or offer packages with a fixed price. In the latter case, it makes sense to define these packages precisely, so there is no confusion or misunderstandings later on in the cooperation.
Overcoming positioning challenges
Clear positioning makes a lot of sense, but many freelancers shy away from it. There are two main reasons for this:
- They're afraid that by positioning themselves clearly, they'll exclude target groups and miss out on opportunities for sales.
- They fear being too set in their ways, so that boredom sets in at some point.
But you can ask yourself if the prospect of better-fitting clients and higher fees isn't more attractive than a few more jobs that don't suit you either thematically or financially. And if you choose your positioning according to your skills and preferences, you probably won't get bored so quickly.
Your offer is not set in stone
The market can change constantly. That's why it's important to keep an eye on developments and, if necessary, adapt your offer to the changing needs of your clients. This may require further training or a change in your branding. Likewise, you can change your positioning if another, perhaps newly emerged area is more interesting to you.
Positioning efforts will pay off
Developing a positioning involves work: You have to research, think, and do personal branding. It's work that doesn't directly generate revenue for you, and that's why many freelancers don't find it easy.
But when you consider that in the long run you'll be happier working, stand out from the competition, and earn more, you'll quickly realize that this effort is worth it.