One of the things you hear about constantly when it comes to freelancing or starting a business is finding (and working in) a niche. Particularly in the web design industry, after a couple of years it's very easy to fall into the old "jack of all trades, master of none" scenario. A little bit of CSS and xHtml, a little bit of PHP, a little bit of Server admin and illustration, and there you go: you're just another web designer just like all the others out there.
Finding A NicheAround about two years ago I started working with Wordpress, at the time it was blogging on free wordpress.com blogs as a means of building links for clients of the SEO company I was working for. I didn't really appreciate what Wordpress was, or just how much it was capable of, but I enjoyed using it as a blogging tool.
A couple of months later I found out from a couple of friends about Wordpress.org and hosting your own blog - so I started experimenting with it, and several months later EggRage was born.
From there on I started working more and more with Wordpress, exploring it's amazing range of plugins, customising free themes, and eventually creating my own from scratch. From an SEO point of view I discovered that there was almost nothing that got indexed faster than a site running Wordpress.
I'm now at the point where I know a lot about Wordpress, I know how most of its code works and how to take advantage of its hooks - I still have lots to learn about it but I can confidently say that I'm at an 'advanced' level and I really enjoy working with it!
If you run a Google search for Wordpress you'll get about 272,000,000 results (that's right, 272.. million). So without much doubt, I think I've found my niche.
Exploiting The Niche
One of my main target markets is small businesses, so a strong open source CMS is what they need - Wordpress falls perfectly into this category. Another one of my target markets is large businesses who need really good blogs to explore social media marketing, Wordpress again fits this category like a glove. Another one of my business prospects (potentially) is the premium themes market, which is.. once again.. dominated by Wordpress.
So you can see how I'm really going to use it heavily for my business model.
Does that mean I'm limiting myself, and saying that I'm only ever going to work with Wordpress? No. I'm interested in some other content management systems like Magento and Expression engine, but I know nothing about them. So for the time being I really need to focus on my strengths.
In the words of Seth Godin (not a direct quote) - Would you rather your customers saw you as trying to do your best? Or as being the best in the world?
Find a niche. Exploit it.
PS. 'Niche' is pronounced 'Neesh' not 'nitch'