Specialize and Thrive

When I started working as a self-employed designer, the services I offered read like a directory of all things creative: brochures, catalogs, logos, marketing materials, interactive, posters, packaging...

It didn’t stop there. Whatever the client needed, I did. This worked out okay at first. Especially considering the fact that I really, really needed every project that came across my desk! But over time I came to the realization that it wasn’t so easy for me to stay abreast of the latest trends and techniques in every medium. Inspiration and creativity were lacking in some projects. Profitability dropped. Passion waned. Not good.

So what did I do? I looked at my financial statements to see what projects were the most profitable. I looked at my portfolio to see what projects brought out the best in me. What projects challenged me, tested my abilities and allowed me to flex my creative muscle? Easy enough…web design and web development.

I started to focus on these two services immediately and haven’t looked back since. My mantra now is “Specialize and thrive.” For me, being a generalist inhibited my growth as a business owner, a creative entrepreneur and a designer. Specialization has helped me fine-tune my capabilities, refine my business processes and increase profitability.

Here are the reasons I believe being a specialist has advantages over being a generalist:

  1. Specializing allows you time and energy to focus your skillset. You have more time to stay up-to-date on industry trends and learn new techniques related to your specialty.
  2. Becoming known as a specialist in one or two services means you are the “go-to-person” when clients, partners or fellow creatives need that service. Clients like specialists because they are perceived to be less of a risk. They talk the talk and walk the walk.
  3. Specialization leads to expertise. Expertise leads to increased rates. Increased rates lead to better projects and better clients.
  4. It’s really hard to be all things to all people. Offering every service imaginable usually means that something gets lost along the way. Increased hardware and software costs impact your business’ bottom line. Immersion in one industry is hard enough. Trying to do it in a handful of industries is next to impossible.
  5. Life is short. I’ve found that specializing has opened up more time for me to do things outside of work. I’ve enabled myself to charge more for what I do so that I am more efficient and profitable with each hour worked.
"I had the distinct pleasure of establishing Atmosphere Creative Inc. with the help of Eric. He and I were partners at our company's inception, and since then have grown to trust each other's work, ethics, vision and integrity. I would have no hesitation referring Eric to anyone for outstanding, visionary graphic design."
Jonathan Howie, Owner, Montana Fire Pits

Handcrafted design. Built in Colorado.