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Why you need specialization(niche) on Upwork?

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You should be professional in narrow specialization to earn big money on Upwork. Clients want freelancers, who can do work well and fast on their specific job instead of workers, who can do everything but without quality and speed.

Choosing a niche (specialization) is an important step to increase freelancer’s success on Upwork. Clients want professionals, who can work fast and guarantee good result instead of freelancers who can do everything but not very well.

Narrow niche examples: “Travel video” for video editing; “Zend Framework” for PHP development, “Medical content” for translations and so on.

Wide niche examples: Web developer, English-Russian Translator, Data Entry specialist.

Narrow niche Pros & Cons

Pros:

  • More chances to get hired;
  • Higher hourly rate;
  • More experience in your area and ability to do work fast;
  • Each job is interesting to you.

Cons:

  • A small number of suitable jobs;
  • You can’t try something new.

Why does a narrow niche give you more chances to get a job?

A client wants to achieve the best solution for current business needs. For example, a client has a job to make art for a fantasy mobile game for a Facebook ad campaign. Client publishes a job on the freelance platform and gets more than 50 responses in a few hours (or even more).

Which one will client choose?

  1. Photoshop specialist;
  2. Illustrator specialist;
  3. Designer;
  4. A person who has a portfolio with web design items;
  5. Logo designer and illustrator;
  6. An illustrator who creates art in fantasy style;
  7. An illustrator who makes Facebook ad banners for fantasy mobile games.

In a perfect world you choose “Illustrator who makes Facebook ad banners for fantasy mobile games” but in the real world, it is not possible because it is very narrow specialization. So if we remove this impossible proposal, the most relevant will be “Illustrator who creates art in fantasy style”.

How can a narrow niche help earn more money?

Your experience is very important. Clients almost do not care whether you have previously worked on the development apps for iOS if at the moment they want only Android app. This, of course, will be your plus (skills are relevant). But the client will give preference to a developer who made several dozens of Android projects than one who did 5 iOS and 5 Android projects.

Is it possible to change a niche?

It’s even necessary. Nothing is eternal. Your interests are changing, technologies and trends in the market are evolving. If you do not change your specialization over time, you risk being in a group of people nobody needs. A typical example now is developers who have worked for several years in a large company, such as a bank, using old technologies, such as Delphi Programming Language. Sometimes, banks decided to completely replace software to new technological solutions so old workers are left out of business because in order to change your specialization, you need to spend a lot of time and it is impossible to do overnight.

In freelance things are even more complicated: you will not be able to work with one client for several years on a full-time basis, and so you always have to meet the market.

Specialized profiles

With specialized profiles it is possible to realize specialization in several areas at once and change directions of the profile very quickly.

Choosing a niche

Three criteria are important for me when choosing a niche on Upwork:

  • Number of projects published in this niche for each day;
  • Average number of responses to a project;
  • Total number of projects on the platform in this area.

To estimate the number of projects per day I use advanced search on Upwork and count projects manually. It is difficult to say which numbers mean high/low competition or niche popularity, but it is possible to compare and choose a more advantageous solution with specialization.

How do I choose a niche?

I develop apps and games for mobile platforms. Applications are made for iOS, Android, Windows Phone on Swift, Java, Kotlin, C# and I use Unity3D for cross-platform mobile game development. I have the most experience in developing applications for Android and my interests are applications on Android, games on Unity3D and artificial intelligence. But I have little experience in AI, so at the moment I do not consider it. Windows Phone is not considered because Microsoft has stopped its support and this direction is not promising in the future. As a result remains Unity3D and Android, but I choose Android because I have more experience in this area. After that, I decide which applications I want to develop. So first I open Upwork and browse projects on Android. I have experience with other platforms, so I can offer clients to port their applications from Windows Phone/iOS to Android. I see no point to make it as the main specialization of my job because I have not found enough projects in this area. But these skills will be a good addition to other jobs, and I will definitely mention them in the profile description.

Jobs analyzing

I searched Upwork for a published project in this area and found the next popular points in projects descriptions:

  • Projects to create apps at once for two platforms iOS + Android;
  • Projects for cross-platform frameworks;
  • Native Java projects that are not related to specific technologies
  • Projects where a client does not clearly understand what should be implemented;
  • Games;
  • Porting from IOS to Android.

And the most popular functionality:

  • Working with REST API;
  • Layout design;
  • Geolocation;
  • Working with photos;
  • Video/audio chats;
  • Blockchain;
  • Payment integration.

Popular niches:

  • Applications for taxis;
  • Food delivery applications;
  • Business applications – creating reports by employees;
  • Messengers;
  • Quiz games;
  • Social network.

In Android development niche I decided to choose native applications on Java and Kotlin (not games) without using cross-platform applications. I decided that my main technologies will be working with REST API, layout design, geolocation, photos, video/audio chats, blockchain, integration of payment. These are the most popular features and they are interesting to me.

Narrow or wide specialization?

You can use specialized profiles to create profiles for several niches.

I recommend you create profile for narrow niche, you personally should remain a specialist in a small area. You can write all 5000 characters in your overview about your different skills and add dozens of projects to the portfolio, but this will not work. It is necessary to narrow directions of your work as much as possible, but in such a way that there still will be an opportunity to find at least one good project in a day in your niche.

In general, in some areas it is quite easy to choose a niche. For example, if you create promotional videos, you can specialize only on promo videos for mobile games and only on a certain genre. In this case, your title in the profile “Promo videos for mobile games “ will improve the response rate from clients.

FAQ

What if I choose the wrong niche?

Many people are mistaken for their first choice. Once you admit, that you can’t find work in this niche on Upwork or a hourly rate in this specialization is too low, you should change specialization.

Is it necessary to become a narrow specialist and choose a niche?

No, freelance websites are full of people who have wide specialization and make big money. But narrow specialization is the easiest way to success on Upwork.

Why is it good to choose a niche?

Because it’s better for both freelancer and client. A freelancer is working on what he likes and gets more money for his job. A client receives the best results for a business.

How long does it take to select a niche?

Every time I want to try to update my niche I spend approximately 20 hours to analyze the market.

Niche choosing on Upwork checklist:

  • How much are you interested in this specialization?
  • How many projects from this category published on Upwork each day?
  • How promising is niche in future?
  • Do you have experience in this area?
  • Is average hourly rate in this specialization suitable for you?

Afterwords

You can found more information about freelance on Upwork without special skills. Also, check big list of professions categories and skills list on Upwork

You can start from:

More information about freelance on Upwork you can find in free eBook “Upwork Tips & Tricks“. For example:

  • How to fill a profile?
  • How to write Cover Letter?
  • How to achieve Top Rated?
  • Much more.

If you have questions you can join our freelancers Facebook community.

If you like the article, you can support the author:

Mobile developer from Ukraine. Work on Upwork from 2013. Share experience about freelance from 2014 (jff.name blog in Russian). Wrote book about remote work "How to freelance on Upwork" and free eBook "Upwork Tips & Tricks"

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