Lately I’ve been reflecting on my own individual approach to development, trying to define it and figure out how I can communicate it more effectively.
If you talk to anyone who’s anybody in the WordPress agency or freelancer space, they will always tell you that you need to find your niche, zone in on that niche and find out how to service that niche effectively. As long as you do a good job, provide value and do what you say you can do, then you’ll do well.
What a lot of people don’t realise is a niche doesn’t have to be a specific industry type. It’s not like you need to specialise in only doing websites for a certain industry. Whilst this can be a great approach, especially if you have some experience or clout in that industry, and the market is big enough, it doesn’t work for everyone in every market.
A niche can also be working with a certain type of end user. I tend to enjoy, and work best with clients that are hands on in their business, serious about their business and motivated to succeed. Those types of clients enjoy working with me and value me.
My clients tend to want to manage their websites themselves, they want to have full control and not have to rely on someone outside of their business to manage the content side of their websites for them. They want to be able to add and edit pages, products, and manage orders in house.
This translates into a certain development approach and style.. I need to ensure that the back end of the site is easy to use, I need to make it simple for the clients team to manage.
The sites I build will usually have some business specific functionality, such as integrating with a third party CRM, they need to rank well in search engines, and also be performant, secure and reliable.
I’ll always build out a theme from the ground up using UnderStrap or more recently Sage as a starting point. Whilst it is a lot more work, I get full control of the end product. (the doing what you say you can do bit!)
I’ve heard many stories of clients that have previously had a site built by someone that has used a premade theme or a page builder not being able to get exactly what they want.
Often I’ll build custom Gutenberg blocks, not because you can’t achieve the same look on the front end with existing blocks or builders, but because it makes it easier for the client's team to manage in house.
I’ll spend a lot of time training clients and working closely with them throughout the process to ensure that they get a product they are comfortable to work with.
A $50 premade theme from Theme Forest with a few CSS tweaks will not suit the types of clients I get.
That’s not to say using a premade theme is totally bad. For some clients in the market it is perfectly fine, as long as they are aware of the limitations and risks that go along with that approach. There’s a niche for that as well.