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Embracing your strengths and specializing

Posted by Ilise Benun on

Inevitably, growing means making room for growth—which usually means letting go, saying no, and changing the way you work. Embracing your strengths, and realizing what you can, can’t, and simply don’t want to do is a big part of evolution (as I found out in the research for my new article, coming soon in HOW).   

Once you embrace these strengths, you’ll need to figure out who can best benefit from them. This is also known as “target marketing,” and for more on this—download the free sample chapter from The Designer’s Guide to Marketing and Pricing entitled, “Who is my market?”  

Here are some creatives’ thoughts on embracing strengths and specializing:

Jennifer de la Fuente – “I've become more comfortable with embracing the nerdy side of me.”

When I started a couple of years ago, I yearned to do the super creative projects and "draw the pretty pictures." But I had serious web skills, and that was what was really paying the bills. 

I've become more comfortable with embracing the nerdy side of me. That's not to say I don't do creative projects and bury myself in code all day. But I've realized I should emphasize my strengths and I can still work on a lot of fun projects I enjoy. This thinking has also helped me (accidentally) put my marketing machine in place. In Sacramento, my name had become synonymous with WordPress in a lot of places. People call me the ninja (it does say "WordPress ninja" on my business cards). I teach seminars up here. I've been really fortunate that I've been able to collaborate with so many great people from this group and beyond on their projects. And it's been good for business. 

Do I want to code forever? Probably not. But I do enjoy the puzzle-solving aspects and I really do enjoy coding creatively. I'm enjoying the ride and will love to see the next step in the evolution.

Tom Tumbusch – “I couldn’t do everything for everyone”
I went freelance as a lifestyle choice, and that's still largely why I do it today. I enjoy controlling my own time and keeping the amount of time I spend living in balance with the amount of time I spend working. 

My biggest adjustment over time was realizing that I couldn't do everything for everyone. In the last two years I've re-branded my business to become much more targeted and specialized in how I self-promote. I still do work outside my primary market, but I find that focusing on a narrow niche is a more effective way to spread the word about my business. 

Thanks to the marketing machine that I set in motion after I re-branded (another thing I learned along the way), I now get calls 6 months, 9 months, or more after I meet prospects, and recently started getting calls from folks I've never met. Even people who don't hire me right away run into me a year later and say "oh yeah, you're the 'Green Guy'." 

Lidia Varesco Racoma – “…My obsession with paper”

I started to specialize in certain things. In my case, one of those things is paper.  Because of my obsession with paper (and bookbinding background) I've become a go-to gal for paper — I've even gotten calls from printers trying to locate or identify a specific paper stock! 

We all know that specializing is a process. How have you taken steps in that direction and how is it going? (If you haven’t yet, and you want to learn how, new groups are starting in September.)

Sign up for the webinar: Evolution of a Creative Business, on Thursday, August 18th at 4PM.

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