Ever reached a point where months after you’ve made a big decision, that you thought you KNEW was the right one, you realise you’ve made a bit of a mistake?
Yeah, that feeling. In too deep. It’s too late. You failed.
Those deep-in-the-gut feelings where something isn’t right – and you have to make another decision. Again. FFS.
The Back Story
At the time of writing, I’m just over two years into my freelance business. I started out as a multidisciplinary designer working on websites, logos, brochures, ebooks, video edits – pretty much you name it, I’d do it.
For the entrepreneurs in the room, you might be familiar with where I’m going with this… I had this urge to niche. I had all sorts of frustrations and challenges with trying to describe who I was in the world of business and how I can help people.
I tried calling myself a ‘content production designer’ but people would do that puppy-style head-cock signalling confusion and wonder at what that exactly is. I then tried to get super specific with the services I offered, to the point where that didn’t make sense either as I had a range of services, and it felt then like I was trying to specialise each one individually. For example, with graphic design I specialised in ebooks; with video editing I specialised in talking head explainer videos – I was basically trying to niche down every one of my services in the vain attempt to make it easier to explain to people what I did. Spoiler alert: it didn’t work!
Winding the tape back to June 2017, I had been doing a lot of video work, absolutely loving it and getting great results for my clients. All was going well and I reached a point where I felt like I’d found my true calling – it was a great feeling! Endorphins were rushing, I had a renewed excitement for my entrepreneurial spirit and I felt like I finally had the breakthrough I was waiting for. I knew I needed to ditch my old brand, so in July I relaunched as Radlad – video production extraordinaire!
I was in business owner happy town. Overall, I felt awesome.
Zipping forward a little bit towards the end of 2017 I started to reflect on the last six months, planning ahead for the new year ahead. I started to get those bastarding butterflies again, but this time it was a bit different.
My 2017 Retrospective
I looked back at the work I’ve done for clients and realised that even though I was ‘reborn’ as a video guy, I hadn’t actually stopped doing the varied work. I was doing branding work designing logos and materials, graphic design work making up digital assets for clients, video work filming and editing content, and creating websites. But more to the point, since my rebrand, this mix of work wasn’t a source of frustration for me. Even better, I was loving it. I was finding success for me as a multipassionate creative, and I was finding success for my clients.
When I look at the year ahead of me, I tried to imagine two scenarios – one being ‘strictly’ a video guy, and one doing varied work, and it wasn’t a difficult decision for me to work out which future version of me I’d prefer. I thrive on variety, and if I could repeat the last six months I’d be in a good place mentally and happy in my work.
The benefit I have is that when I rebranded, I was adamant I didn’t want to ‘hide’ behind a company name. The short story of how my brand came to be is that I figured ‘Ross Coverdale’ is a bit of a mouthful, and having been operating under the company guise of RAD Creatives for the last couple of years (my first three initials are R.A.D. for anyone who is curious how I got there) I started to get a nickname that eventually stuck – and so Radlad was born.
I have zero plans to employ a team; and no matter what work I’m doing, when my clients work with me they get me and all my varied expertise. I see the wider picture and how what I’m working on contributes to the business as a whole, and not just the task at hand. This, I’ve come to realise, is where my strengths as a creative lie – along with some boss design skills too, if I do say so myself. With my video work, my mission is to make people feel awesome about their brand and their content, and this is essentially the Radlad approach that I use for all my creative work.
So Is Niching Wrong?
Heck no. In fact, I’m still a big advocate of niching down, but what I have discovered for myself is that I chose the wrong niche, and possibly due to trying to whittle down to one thing too soon. Does this mean all my business problems are solved? OH HECK NO! I’ve got a lot on my to-do list, and I know I need to sort out my messaging and revamp my website (again!) but this will all come in due course.
For a brief period I thought I was stepping backwards, and while it might technically be true, I’m now stepping forwards on a better path. I have big plans to work with more organisations this year bringing my set of skills to the table for the greater good – the difference now is I don’t see my mix of expertise as a bad thing anymore – in fact, it’s pretty rad.