In my previous article, I have talked about how aspiring freelancers can deal with time constraints. Here's the next professional liability that may hinder the growth of a freelancer's career:
Professional Liability Number Two: Not having any specialty
If you've heard of the term "one-stop shop," where you can buy practically any item, that's probably the closest description I have for a freelancer who hasn't taken time to hone his skills and specialize.
To illustrate, as an aspiring freelance writer, you may have submitted a few manuscripts and got published in a corporate or community newsletter. And then there were also your guest blogging gigs. You may have also accepted a few requests to ghostwrite speeches.
So my point is, if you keep scattering your efforts and running in different directions, you may have accumulated a year's worth, or even two years of experience, but boil down to not having any specialty at all.
And being a "one-stop shop" does not just apply to aspiring freelance writers, but nearly every other skill as well. An artist can work in graphic or web design, create company logos, or render illustrations for books and magazines.
Here's another one: If you're an editor or proofreader, you can edit book-length manuscripts, company manuals, corporate resumes, and academic papers. That certainly is quite a diverse selection of projects.
Now, how does being a one-stop shop, or generalist, work against you?
First, spreading yourself too thinly will result in a feeling of accomplishing less in spite of having a lot of work done. You have every right to be rewarded for your efforts, so it's better to direct your efforts to honing just a few skills.
Second, in the field of freelancing, it's better to be an inch wide yet a mile deep, which translates to having no more than three specialized skills for a faster turn-over rate and the right to command a higher fee compared to other freelancers.
Third, having just a few specialties can prove to be more cost-effective in the long run, particularly when it comes to creating marketing materials. If you plan to have a three-fold brochure designed to serve as a "teaser" for your freelancing services, you can simply state your full name and under that, your specialty, like "Advertising/SEO Copywriter" or "Resume Writer." You can also be more creative with your business card.
If you were able to figure it out, there's no need to come up with another brochure to present another set of skills you may have but has nothing to do with writing. Potential clients won't end up confused, and they'll have you in mind as soon as the need for your services comes up.
Now, having mentioned the disadvantages of being a generalist, how do you get more specific with developing your skills? I'll talk about this in my next article.