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    Hi all

    I have been a web developer for a number of years. I would like to start my own business but think that by being a general web developer will cause me to be in competition with alot more people than if i was specialised.

    What different areas could i specialise in?
    Are there any that people would recommend?

    I was thinking Shopify or Email Marketing for businesses

    Email Marketing
    Specific programming language eg ASP.NET
    SQL Server

    thanks in advance

    • Total posts: 1,168

    Hi Gazza and welcome. I encourage you to do your signature in your profile so people can learn more about what you do and click on a link :-)

    Now, with respect to web development I do find it’s better to ‘specialise’ and promote that but let others know about what else you do when they’re in contact with you. I specialise in doing WordPress plus do hosting, domain registrations, broadcast lists and social media. But I concentrate mainly on WordPress and it’s this that brings in clients for me.

    We all have a different sphere of influence and those who have experienced your services can share what you’ve done for them and spread the word. Much of my work comes through word-of-mouth referrals and some come via my website. But mostly it’s through people who have heard of me through someone else I’ve worked with and that seems to keep a steady flow coming in for now.

    • Total posts: 4,485

    This is a subject which has come up a few times, to specialize or have a broad market. Just thinking out aloud, say you decided to specialize in A and C, but found they weren’t to successful, so decided to swap to B and d, but it would take a year or 2 to determine that what you choose may be be the right fields.

    Why not consider starting out with a broad range of services, than see which ones take of for you, and start to specialize into those areas.

    I would think it is better when just starting out to be getting $’s in across a broad spectrum, rather than no $’s, because you chose the wrong specialization.

    Just a thought,

    • Total posts: 318

    Karen and I regularly have this discussion with our hypnotherapy students during marketing training. As with so many Either/Or arguments, consider Both/And. They all ask, “Should I specialise in, say, weight loss or should I be a generalist?” The fact is, there’s nothing stopping a therapist or web developer from being both a specialist and a generalist.

    Have two websites, or carefully structured, one for the specialism, one for the kitchen sink. You can promote them in different places. We used to have 3 websites, all at the top of Google. On a public presentation about what we do, we’d be a ‘generalist with a special interest in weight loss and phobia.’

    On social media, you can promote something different. Although I work them all together, they can be used in isolation. Sometimes that’s good. For example, I’m in hypnotherapy, business advice, and personal development/coaching. They’re very different beasts and some find it quite odd.

    Right now, on Trade Secrets, we’re a generalist. Advisors in all industries are required. But that’s not always how we market it. We spend time getting to know people in an industry and approach people we think would be great advisors. Then move on. So right now, I’m chatting to coaches on Facebook but being useful to startups more generally on Twitter by sharing valuable content.

    It’s a hard nut to crack for startups, admittedly. Spreading yourself too thin means little time on each thing. Some say better to do one thing well than be a Jack or Jill of all trades. But it also spreads risk. Going into a specialism can corner you if people don’t want it. Time and money wasted.

    One solution is to get together with other web developers who have complimentary skills and form strategic alliances and partnerships. While all of you remain self-employed, you can all perform different parts of the puzzle. Requires great communication and organisation.

    Byron Trzeciak
    • Total posts: 422

    Speaking from exprience it’s likely you’ll begin to specialise as you develop your business. As someone who is starting out in business it’s very hard to forsee the types or complications you’ll encounter by offering certain services.

    For example with programming you might quote 20 hours but it always ends up 40 due to the nature of the customer or the challenge of staying competitive versus the challenge of solving the problem. (just an example)

    Other questions you might ask yourself:

    What are your margins?
    Do you have a process? Can you refine it to work better?
    Can you accurately quote the work?
    Do you enjoy it?
    Is it profitable?
    Am I considered an expert in this space?
    Is the work I’m doing providing value to the client?

    In the web design space you’ll definitely benefit from word of mouth and doing a solid job for your clients, there is plenty of work. If you want to seperate yourself however you need to do something better than everyone else and sell your results.

    In terms of specialisation you should also consider industries rather than just skills. For example hotels typically involve greater customisation, custom programming, integration with booking api’s, search engine optimisation and conversion / reporting in a single project.

    • Total posts: 8

    Thanks all for the comments so far. I have 3 questions below

    1) Im an ASP.NET developer, i can do some photoshop but im definitely not a designer. I think i should partner up with a designer as this is where my skills are lacking. Have thought about working in a coworking space. any thoughts?

    2) I should have a website up. Can anyone recommend a website that has great designs i can work with?

    3) People have different thoughts on going general or specializing. The problem i have with going down the general path is that Designers can do great design and setup websites. The only thing they wont be able to do is the custom code. Why would anyone want me to do their website? I could outsource the designer but thats just another cost.

    This leads me to think that i should specialize in ASP.NET as i have good knowledge in this space.

    People that want websites i wouldnt think would go searching for an ASP.NET expert though. I like Byrons idea about specializing specific fields but im unsure how to get this work.

    How would you suggest getting ASP.NET work?

    Byron Trzeciak
    • Total posts: 422

    You might want to look at web design agencies building on DotNetNuke and see if they need assistance with custom modifications and programming functions into these websites.

    I’m sure you could find these types of websites in Google fairly easily or even introduce yourself on the forums and detail the type of work you’re looking to find.

    I haven’t seen so much of ASP.NET in small business world as most customers I deal with are typically on more common php based content management systems but that’s not to say it doesn’t exist.

    In terms of specialising sometimes it’s about connections and being introduced to the right people. I was living in an area that is built on tourism for 12 months which allowed me to gain connections in the hospitality space.

    • Total posts: 2

    This has been a timely forum thread as I am currently planning on specialising.

    Gazzza, post: 222166, member: 71904 wrote:
    Designers can do great design and setup websites.

    Gazzza, post: 222166, member: 71904 wrote:
    Why would anyone want me to do their website?

    Designers can do great website design but not all do. I have seen quite a few portfolios where each client has received the same template with the colours changed. Maybe it is the most cost effective method for the business but personally I’m not a fan.

    While you could look at it as ‘designers are a one-stop shop’ why not look at it from another perspective? Depending on where your market research takes you, you could market yourself directly to designers instead of clients as you would be able to provide something useful to them. Depending on your skill level, you could also look at building CMS and/or email newsletter templates and licence them to designers. Or you could provide training for designers.

    If you were to become a dedicated ASP.NET dev, I would imagine that web design firms or larger corporations would be interested in what you have to offer.

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