This is What Happens When Freelancers Specialize

There’s an easy way for freelancers to get high-paying freelance jobs and clients with less work and in less time: specialize. Nearly twice as many freelancers making $100 per hour or more have a specialty (or niche) compared to freelancers who don’t have a specialty, according to The Freelance Niche Report by Ed Gandia, founder of High-Income Business Writing. Ed surveyed 756 freelancers in 2017, and also found that 90% of the freelancers who make $150-$200 per hour have a specialty.

When clients hire a freelancer, they want a specialist, someone with expertise in the type of freelance work they need help with. And they’re willing to pay for that expertise.

That’s why freelancers who specialize, like Kathleen Labonge, MBA, and Elizabeth Hanson, make more money than freelancers who are generalists.

Choose the Right Freelance Specialty or Specialties  

The best specialty(ies) is neither too broad nor too narrow for where you are in your freelance career. It needs to be just right. Most freelancers, including me, start out more broadly and narrow down their specialty(ies) over time.

Newer freelancers like Kathleen, who started her freelance medical copyediting business in 2015, need a broader specialty. This gives you more freelance opportunities and lets you learn about where to find the type of projects and clients you like best.

More experienced freelancers like Elizabeth, a freelance science and medical writer since 2007, already have that experience and knowledge. But you probably need to evaluate your freelance business, better define your specialty(ies), and revise your marketing messages.

Industry specialization was the most common type of specialty in Ed’s survey. Both Kathleen and Elizabeth have industry specialization, and both are in one of the top specialties: medical communications, which Ed called healthcare/medical/pharma in his survey.

Industry specialization is a great choice for most freelancers because it lets you choose industries where:

  • Clients can pay freelancers well
  • There’s lots of opportunity now and in the future.

Medical communications is a strong specialty, but it’s very broad. Through the online freelance marketing course Finding the Freelance Clients You Deserve, Kathleen and Elizabeth were able to better define their specialties and develop marketing messages and materials to attract high-income clients.

Find More Freelance Jobs and Clients 

Kathleen had some ideas about what she wanted to do as a freelance medical copyeditor but she didn’t know enough about opportunities in medical editing. Initially, Kathleen wanted to focus on specialties that seemed interesting to her like continuing medical education (CME) and health literacy.

As a new freelancer, CME was too narrow and it was going to be harder to get health literacy projects than projects where the audience was health care professionals. Through Lori’s coaching, Kathleen broadened her specialty, which gave her access to many more freelance opportunities.

“Identifying my specialty was the single most important thing I learned in the course,” she says.

Now, Kathleen’s specialty is helping medical communication and education companies, hospitals, and other health and health care organizations produce accurate, clear, and consistent content for health care professional and lay audiences. CME material and health literacy are both part of, but not the main focus of, this work.

By putting medical communication and education companies and health care professional audiences first in her marketing messages, Kathleen is maximizing her freelance opportunities. She mentions health literacy and other work where the audience is patients and the general public after the type of work that offers the most opportunity.

“I no longer am floundering around all over the map trying to find clients to work with. I now have a plan of attack,” says Kathleen.

Read the case study about how Kathleen markets her business.

Focus on Reliable Freelance Jobs and Clients

Like many freelancers, Elizabeth was so busy meeting client deadlines and running her business that she didn’t think strategically about her business or do enough freelance marketing. Elizabeth was doing fairly well, but she knew that she could be doing better if she could just get motivated and organized to do these things.

Through the self-study version of Finding the Freelance Clients You Deserve, Elizabeth got the structure and support she needed to evaluate her business and focus more on marketing. She started by evaluating her current work with two distinct types of clients:

  1. Science and medical writing
  2. Natural history museums and other science-based organizations.

“Science and medical writing is a more reliable way to make a living as a freelancer. Taking this course helped me focus and commit to that route,” she says. Elizabeth is focusing most of her marketing on science and medical writing, while still doing some work in her second specialty.

Once Elizabeth had a clear primary specialty, she developed marketing messages to attract science and medical clients.

Read the case study about how Elizabeth markets her business.

How to Choose Your Money-Making Specialty or Specialties

Read more about how to choose a money-making specialty in Want to Worry Less and Make More Money? Be a Specialist.

Learn about:

  • Ways to specialize
  • How to choose a viable specialty
  • How to attract dream clients once you’ve chosen your specialty(ies)

Finding the Freelance Clients You Deserve

freelance course

This 7-week online freelance marketing course helps new, aspiring, and experienced freelancers learn the most effective ways to target and reach the right clients.

It’s available as a self-study course or with coaching. Kathleen chose the coaching version while Elizabeth took the self-study course.

Since Elizabeth was an experienced freelancer and had already started some of the work covered in the course, she chose the self-study version. “For me, the self-study course was enough. If I were a new freelancer, I think the coaching would be helpful,” she says.

Kathleen found the coaching invaluable in helping her develop her marketing plan and messages. “I think I’d have been lost without it,” she says. “I’m in awe of Lori’s ability to cut through the chaff and identify the valuable material, and to be able to state marketing messages so effectively and concisely.”

Learn more about Finding the Freelance Clients You Deserve.

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Learn More About How to Specialize   

Want to Worry Less and Make More Money? Be a Specialist

Ed Gandia, The Freelance Niche Report

Kathleen and Elizabeth



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Case study



LinkedIn profile

Case study