One of the students on my new course emailed me about his idea to add some other services to his new writing business — services such as web development, UX design, SEO, etc. He already has experience in them, so why not, right? One of his points was that, ‘Versatility can be your advantage, especially if you’re offering your services to small and medium sized businesses. They can’t afford to pay for specialists.’
I told him I think it’s a bad idea. Here’s my advice to him:
You’re spreading yourself too thin. It’s easier to start narrow and then expand later if you want to. Better to focus on one thing and do a fucking awesome job of it than to only ever get shitty clients who pay you a pittance and only hire you because you offer an affordable all-in-one package.
If you’ve read the first week of the course, you’ll have seen that I recommend specialising. And that applies to this situation, too. If you’re a generalist in not just the sense that you’re a freelance writer who will write anything for anyone, but also in that you’re someone who will do web development, SEO, whatever else, you will never grow a successful money-making business, and definitely not one you can run by yourself.
People will not expect you to be good at anything if you offer a million different services, so the only clients you’ll attract are the ones who, as you say, ‘can’t afford to pay for specialists’.
Your offering will be unclear and unfocussed, and people won’t know exactly why they’re hiring you, except for the fact that you’re the most affordable way to get all their tasks done.
Choose one thing to focus on and commit 100% to it for at least 6 months to a year. Master it. Become known for it. Then you will be able to grow a successful business. When people recommend you, it won’t be because ‘Oh, he can help you build your website and write all the copy for it and make sure it’s SEO’d up to the eyeballs’, it’ll be because ‘he’s a fantastic writer and he’ll write copy for your website that will help you sell things’.