The Abundant Freelancer

The Blog

The Power of Specificity: Find the Others by Getting Specific


There’s been no better time in history to set up shop, and no easier way to do that than to start your business online. Making money online takes more than a product or service and a way to sell it. It takes a leader, showing up to solve a problem for a specific type of person. The website, the social media platforms, all of that tech stuff is supplementary to being able to create something that changes the lives of a small group of people. Those things are second to influencing that small group of people to make a decision that will transform the course of their lives forever. In fact, they are merely vehicles to incite that greater change.

The Value of Specificity

Why do I emphasize “small”? Because when you go general, and speak to a larger audience with more interests, you speak to no one. This is a mistake many make when beginning to market their business. They think, “If I cast a wider net, I’ll catch more customers and attract them to my business.” But this couldn’t be further from the truth. Sure, you’ll reach a wider audience, but that audience will not be ready to enroll with you. They won’t buy anything. And the person that would buy something from you won’t either, because your message is too general and they won’t see that you can solve their particular problem.

When you get specific, when you provide products or services that only a certain type of person needs, you become magnetic to that person. I listened to a podcast today with one of my favorite speakers of all time, the world-class marketer, Seth Godin. Seth jumpstarted my stagnant freelancing career with his Freelancer Course on Udemy, which taught me how to be a professional in my field rather than an amateur. His course set me on the path to success where I make more working from my home than I ever did in my corporate video career, so I pretty much listen to anything the man has to say and treat it as gold. In this particular podcast episode, Seth talks about marketing and the value of specificity.

When asked how to know when we’ve gone specific enough, he gave the example of a veterinarian opening a clinic specifically for the care of Siamese cats. He says, when you’re sure you can’t get any more specific than that, you’ve found your market. I can’t imagine anything more specific than a veterinary clinic that serves one specific breed of cat. And you can bet that if you’ve got a Siamese cat who needs medical care, you’ll want to go to that clinic – much like how when I injured my hand, I went to see a hand specialist rather than continue to see general physicians. That hand doctor knows way more about solving my problem than the random Urgent Care doctor who told me my fingers weren’t even fractured (they were). With that example, you can clearly see the value in specificity. 

Niching Down is Where the Magic Happens

At this point, you may be asking, “How do I get more specific?” The answer is that you start with your broad concept and work your way down. In the Siamese cat example, the veterinarian knew they wanted to open a veterinary clinic. Easy. Your standard veterinary office will accept both dogs and cats, sometimes even bunnies or other small furry creatures, but usually dogs and cats are a given. Now, this veterinary decided that they wanted to specialize in cats. Then they asked themselves, what is the one breed of cat I have the most interest and/or experience in treating? Boom. Siamese. Each breed has their own set of health problems, so specializing, or niching down, as we say in the industry, ensures that those who have Siamese cats will get the best treatment around if they go to this specific clinic. (Fun fact – I used to be a veterinary assistant when I was in my late teens).

Start with the main topic of your business. I’m going to use a few examples from my freelancing business to help give you a framework to go off of. It’s evolved over the years, so I do have many examples. During the years of 2013 to 2016 I branded myself as a documentarian. That is, I shot and edited documentaries on topics that mattered to me. In 2013, I was really into helping musicians make documentaries about themselves and their music so that they could connect deeper with their audience and, more specifically, present themselves to potential record labels. One could go even more specific and brand themselves as the documentarian who works exclusively psychedelic rock musicians, metal musicians, EDM musicians, or whatever genre you’re most into.

In 2015, a friend approached me with a request to help her make a social impact documentary for her master’s degree in psychology. I became super passionate about helping her with it, and I made my first feature-length documentary about the LGBT community. If I had decided to continue along this path, I could have branded myself as the filmmaker who makes social impact documentaries, or, more specifically, LGBT documentaries. Life took a different turn for me, so I did not pursue this branding. For the filmmaker that is specializing in LGBT social impact documentaries, you could niche down even further and focus on LGBT rights in America (or any other country), or the struggles of LGBT youth in middle schools. The possibilities are endless – the answer depends only on what you’re most passionate about.

Let’s switch gears for a second. I have been designing my Save The Dates and invitations for my wedding this coming May. There is a huge market for weddings, as photographers, videographers, and graphic designers. Let’s say you’re a graphic designer, and you want to open an Etsy shop designing wedding invitations. There are a lot of ways you can get more specific with that. Personally, I am totally into the desert. I love everything about it – the plants, the animals, the way the color of the sand complements the blue of the sky – all of it. If I were to go into creating invitations for other brides, I might specialize in desert themed invitations. Or, to be even more specific, cactus themed invitations. Then, someone that loves the desert like me, who wants a cactus themed wedding invitation, can simply search “cactus themed wedding invitation” and have your listing be at the top of the search because you are so specific in what you provide.  

How to Get More Specific

By now, you should be able to see the value in going specific. So, back to the “how” of the matter. I’ll use the example of the filmmaker who focuses on music documentaries. He would ask the following questions.

Q: What type of films do I want to make?
A: Documentaries.

Q: What topic am I most interested in making documentaries about?
A: Music.

Q: What type of musician or genre of music lights me up the most?
A: Psychedelic Rock.

Q: Who can I specifically serve with my music documentaries?
A: A band that is looking to get signed with a record label.

See how specific that is? Now this filmmaker knows exactly who he’s talking to. All of his branding – the name of his business, the logo, the colors, the fonts, his website copy, and his social media posts will be targeted toward this specific type of person that he wants to work with. With such an exclusive brand message, those looking for his exact services will find him and say, “Wow, this guy gets me!” and it’ll be much easier to convert that person from being a follower to a paying client. Getting specific is how you lay the groundwork for success in your online business. 

Do It For Yourself

I’ve made a two-page worksheet for you that will help you get specific with your product or service based business. To download and print out, right click and hit Save As for each page. Alternatively, you can take the exercises and write them down in a journal or notebook – there’s no wrong way to use this worksheet. Use whatever medium feels comfortable to you. Get ready to be specific!

The Power of Specificity Worksheet Pg 1.jpg
The Power of Specificity Worksheet Pg 2.jpg