Focusing on Strengths & Finding Your Mojo

Sometimes, like last month, everything seems to go wrong all at the same time. Thankfully this month karma seems to have evened itself out again and a lot of really good things have happened. I thought it'd be good to catch a few small updates and a couple of lessons!

What's Going On

After a decidedly mediocre start to 2010 and a veritable drought of clients, I'm fully booked for the foreseeable future again. It's funny how just 2 weeks of no work can really get you worried, even though I knew that things were in the pipeline I was slightly overcome by the panic of "I'm not doing anything".

Since then, I've had a really enjoyable month's work on several smaller projects and one big one. 12 months in, I'm finding that my skill-set is becoming more refined and the variety of work that I do is slowly reducing. A year ago I was doing hosting, email marketing, design, development, seo, social media marketing and consultation. Now I'm finding that the majority of my clients are coming to me for graphic design, Wordpress development, and online marketing consultation - the three things which I absolutely enjoy most of all.

Spreading Yourself Thin

I think it's probably a natural instinct for a web-based freelancer to want to offer as many services as possible. I've seen a lot of people start this way, presumably thinking that the more services you offer, the more things you can sell to clients. The occasional blog post pops up about being a Jack of all trades and master of none too, which is usually met with some lively debate.

I don't think that specialising in a single niche (such as UX, or front end development) is the way forward; in this sort of situation you really are limiting your prospects. That being said I think offering a "bit of everything" is arguably worse as you really can't claim to be good at all of them. I think there's a happy middle ground somewhere between the two that I've discovered: mastering about three niches that all complement each other.

Design is my first love - it's probably what I spend the most time on out of everything. Wordpress is, in my opinion, the best platform ever created and is something that I would be happy to work with all day for the rest of my life. Online marketing is where I love to exercise the logical side of my brain and come up with unique ideas that make sense. These three things really complement each other quite well: I can design, build, and promote a very wide range of extremely high quality sites. This means I'm saying goodbye to ecommerce sites, little static sites, and custom web applications. I'll refer those enquiries to one of the many other amazing people who I've come to know in this industry.

Some Updates About This Site

Regular posting this year is something that I really want to get into the habit of but so far I've been rather unsuccessful. On this basis I'm going to try doing slightly shorter posts a bit more often. It's quite daunting coming up with one of my big blog posts which need research and planning. I also know from experience that the longer the post, the less likely you are to read every word of it.

I'm also working hard behind the scenes to improve my writing style and make my articles as engaging as possible. I realise that the technical details of this endeavor are of little interest to most people but I'd love to hear if/when you read a post of mine that you feel was particularly well written. (Don't worry if the opposite is true, I have enough people telling me all about those.)

Finally

I feel like there are loads of things that I haven't covered in the last year, things that I've taken for granted along the way. If you're one of the group of people who've read this blog 'cover-to-cover' so far, please drop me a line in the comments and tell me what you'd like me to write more about. I aim to please!

Photo by DavidSpinks

John O'Nolan

Founder at Ghost.org. Writes about open source, startup life, non-profits, and publishing platforms. Travels the world with a bag of kites.