== My Short Story ==
I am a generalist software engineer with 4+ years doing product development at a tech startup. I recently left a full-time job to pursue consulting on my own. My plan is to focus on 1 or 2 narrowly-defined types of projects and present them in the context of their business value (e.g. "do X to reduce churn") to justify a higher rate. I am struggling with how to analyze my broad experience doing product development and come up with 1 or 2 specific types of project to sell.
== Bullets about Me ==
- full-stack LAMP developer for 6+ years
- worked on many types projects (everything from building APIs to internal support tools to large single-page apps)
- lots of experience discussing problems with internal users and external customers
- comfortable talking through high-level business goals and then turning them into technical tasks
Seems to me that versatility is actually your greater selling point.
Yes, you could concentrate on 1 niche problem that you solve over and over again for various clients.
Advantage: That streamlined approach would be efficient in terms of presentation and actual work load.
Disadvantage: By promoting a very specific offering, you may be introducing yourself as the wrong tool for the job ... for most potential clients. If I stumble across you and find a landing page that stresses your ability to solve Problem X while I am dealing with Problem Y, then I assume you're less relevant than you might be. That does a disservice to your diverse skill set.
You can marry the best of both worlds. Here's what I'd suggest. Clients will discover you both passively and as a result of active outreach. So
1. For your active marketing efforts, identify prospects where the client really needs you for Problem X, in which you're specializing. Introduce yourself as a specialist in Problem X (which is true).
2. For your more passive, less keyword-targeted online footprint, showcase your versatility rather than your specialization. That's also true. This way, you'll seem like a better fit for a wider group of potential clients. Instead of writing you off as a specialist, they'll consider engaging you as an IT "renaissance man".
Narrow the focus of your presentation when you have narrowed your demographic. Widen that focus when the demographic is wider.
Go with your 2 best skills and find customers that you can immediately impact by one or two of those skills. Once you get in the door and make an impact you can then "cross-sell" some of your other skills and continue to bill out your time. Try to identify customers that might need, for example, lamp or api help (assuming many do) and start small to then grow your consultative skill sets to other areas of the customer's business. I made it sound easy as pie but narrow your focus and get your hands dirty!
Focus on your narrow and specific expertise, targeting a very specific type of client and just sell that. In time you may find that you can transfer your very specific functional expertise to other types of clients but do this in a sequential targeted fashion, not a broad approach. Be wary of cross-selling other services in which you are lesser qualified - in most cases it is a fantasy that will waste a lot of your time.
Good luck with your practice.
How about positioning yourself as an expert in building MVPs for (funded) startups?
Or as a software product expert who translates products wishes into great software (maybe inside the niche you defined for yourself)
Here are a few questions you can ask yourself to help find your answer:
- What am I best at?
- What do I truly want to do?
- What client problems can I help solve with ease?
Once you know the answers to these questions, you can target your marketing message to specifc client pain points.