What’s better, being an expert at one thing or not too bad at a few things?
By being a jack of all trades, would you get more work?
Yes and no.
Yes, because you’ll be more capable to take on projects you normally wouldn’t.
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And no, because if you focus your strengths and become an expert at it, you’ll get more quality leads.
Either way, would you get more work?
Probably not. At least not quality work.
You might get a lot of diverse projects as a jack of all trades, but as an expert you’ll get more leads for the work you specialize in.
So… should you become a freelancing jack of all trades?
Let me share my experience about how NOT being a jack of all trades saved my freelance business and what you can do with your skills to become a better freelancer.
How focusing my skills saved my freelance business
I’ve been a self taught individual for as long as I can remember.
I had all of the time in the world back when I first got into design in high school, so when I needed something done (like a website or an animation) I took the time to learn and did it myself. I always did the work as best as I could, and by doing that I developed a lot of diverse skills.
I became well-versed in all kinds of multimedia: graphic design, website design, animation, video editing, digital painting – you name it, I probably dabbled in it in some way.
Because I dabbled in so many different areas of media, I used to call myself a “multimedia designer”… Can you believe that? (It’s crazy how much you change over the years.)
When it came to running a freelance business as a “multimedia designer” it was hard to build a focused brand around that. As a result I never got a decent amount of leads for work, and when I did, the projects were low quality.
I continued to get these low quality projects that I just didn’t enjoy, and it soon started to hinder my freelance business.
After a year or so doing every type of project that came my way, I found that I really enjoyed one specific area of work, and that was graphic design.
So I decided to rebrand myself entirely and take my freelancing to the next level.
As soon as I stopped being “Brent Galloway the multimedia designer” and became “Brent Galloway the freelance graphic designer”, the more I saw my business turn into a real career.
I rebranded, redesigned and reached out to all of my connections to inform them of what I was doing. I restructured how I did business, set new goals, took some risks, and now I couldn’t be happier with where I am in my freelance career.
I work on projects that I enjoy, I have the freedom to bring my own ideas to life and my business just keeps growing.
I’m not saying that being a jack of all trades is an absolute bad thing, but here’s how you can find that perfect balance and start getting more of the work you enjoy doing:
Become a well-rounded freelancer
It doesn’t hurt to know the basics of different specialties. For example, I think that all graphic designers should know how to code basic HTML.
Being freelancers, our field of expertise is always evolving. Being well-rounded and cognizant of current trends and techniques is extremely important.
How focused should you get?
I went from doing everything to just graphic design. At least that’s my main focus when it comes to my freelance business.
You can even take it a step further – for example: specialize on a specific kind of graphic design, like custom typography, hand drawn illustration, etc.
Keep doing what you love, find out where you shine, and start doing more of that!
Are you a jack of all trades or a specialist and why?
For me personally, focusing my expertise has literally saved my freelance career, but that might not be the same for everyone.
What’s your story? Share it in the comments on this post, I can’t wait to read it!
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