How to Successfully Be a Jack of All Trades in this Industry

by in Articles on 22nd Mar 2012 · Comments

Working in the web industry can cover far too many niches. There are web designers, developers, bloggers, marketers, copywriters, and more — and within each of those even more specialties to cover. It surely is an ever-expanding industry, and something we shouldn't take for granted! Because creating one web presence can require several of these niches, and many overlap as well, there are so many professionals that have chosen to go the route of the "Jack of All Trades", adopting as many roles as practical.

With this comes the debate over whether it's more efficient to have one specialty, or if knowing how to do several practices is more beneficial overall. There are many great points that come along with each side of the argument, but when it comes down to it, it's purely a matter of personal opinion, and a preference for the services one wants to offer. One side may not be more efficient of an option overall, and really they can be equally as strong choices with a bit of planning.

How to Successfully be a Jack of All Trades

In this article we'll cover some tips and best practices for those that do choose to spread themselves thin among the many niches and services within the web industry. Designers that are also developers, bloggers that do copywriting on the side, and full-service web agencies, this article is for you.

How to Successfully be a Jack of All Trades

Have Limits

When it comes to taking on everything, you must be sure not to literally do so. A person who can do a variety of services shouldn't take on every client, every service, and every new thing that comes their way. Nobody can do it all, so while it's acceptable to have a variety of services, limit the number of services in some way — preferably less than five.

Have Limits

In the argument of specialty-focused web professionals, limiting yourself to particular specialties will allow you to grow your knowledge in each of them and help keep you up to date. This will result in better work for your clients and a less stressful you.

Feel free to take on multiple niches within the industry, as long as they are closely related. Even feel free to try out new things at times to see if it would be something you would consider adding. Remove or add services as necessary, as the market changes and as your interests and skill sets change.

Know What You Do Know

What are you best at? What types of services can you do quickly? Which do you enjoy the most? The reason many of us choose to take on multiple services is because we love the variety, and we need a change of pace every once in a while. Yet, if you aren't good at a particular skill (or if you're still learning), don't include it as one of your services or specialties. It will only backfire, proving to any clients you take on in said niche that you do spread yourself too thin.

Know What You Do Know

Having a learning curve with deadlines attached is a recipe for disaster. If you want to do a job well, you must be sufficient in the skill. Do what you know well and stick to it, and keep learning new skill sets on the side. If you become good enough at a skill you'd like to take on as a service in the future, then you can add it.

Be Organized

A good organized designer will have their process laid out. So will a fast and efficient developer, and an organized blogger will likely have a schedule they stick to. The more organized anyone is, the more efficient they'll be; that's no secret. When it comes to taking on a variety of specialties, things can get confusing fast.

Be Organized

Keep each service separate, and organize each in the way it needs to be organized. Then, keep your overall schedule around all of those services organized. Know how long each type of service takes, and how much you should be charging. If many of your services are related and are often bundled into single projects, clarify with the client different phases that execute each service.

When you take on more variety, you're taking on a lot more responsibility. If you keep your files, desk, processes, time, projects, and everything else organized, it won't feel like such a burden.

Have Outsourcing Resources

Despite good organization and proper planning, when you take on more services, you're likely to lose focus at times. Even those with very specific niches get into this pinch every now and then, but for those that choose to do many things it is more likely to happen. If you do find yourself in a place where you're falling behind, rather than sacrificing your reputation, outsource projects, or portions of projects, as needed.

Have Outsourcing Resources

Try to have a go-to person for each type of service you do. If you offer WordPress themes, have at least one other theme designer that you can outsource a project to or at least part of a project if you get too busy. If you run a blog for profit, look for writers to outsource to, or if you're a designer, look for someone with a matching style and quality.

Having all of these people ready and picked out when you need them can save you in tough times. Likewise, as much of the great outsourcing advice goes, try to outsource the services you don't like which may still be related to your industry or overall product in order to take on more of what you do love doing.

Marketing as a "Jack of All Trades"

One may think that marketing oneself as the "Jack of All Trades" may be easier to do than someone with one particular specialty, but that's certainly not so. Within a niche, while there is not as big of a demand overall, any client that needs that service will go out looking particularly for someone who specializes in it, giving them the benefit. When it comes to doing it all, with no niche there's no niche market either.

Marketing

Remember when we talked about staying organized by keeping the variety of services you offer separate? This goes for marketing as well. There's no need for a separate Twitter account, blog, or email campaign for each service, but do have a target audience for each. If many of your services intertwine in larger projects, then you can upsell those who find you for a particular service to another service. Say you're a web designer, developer, blogger, and copywriter extraordinaire: use marketing tactics to attract clients to your web design work, and much of the time they'll need an entire website.

Bundle packages that combine several of your services. If a client can get a discount via a "website package", they'll likely do so rather than going to separate professionals for each service. If you don't want to bundle, surely make suggestions to current clients about how using your services together will create the best overall product.

You'll want to include an overview of all services on your portfolio or website for those clients that find you for a particular reason, but want to know more about what else you offer. It may be best to create a primary target market and gear towards that in order to find clients, and upsell as needed. Of course, be sure to still remain visible for any client that would be searching for any of your non-primary services.

Conclusion

Having a specialty certainly has its benefits, but with proper planning and business strategies, anyone who would like to be a "Jack of All Trades" within this industry can do so with success. It may not make things easier or help you earn more, as those factors all come down to experience, work ethic, and how you run a business. However, supplying multiple skill sets to clients doesn't have to be a negative thing either.

There are endless debates over how anyone should focus on one or two services and leave the rest behind.

What do you think? Do you think there are benefits to specializing over doing it all, or vice versa? Do you have any additional tips for being a more efficient "Jack of All Trades?"

Kayla Knight is freelance web designer and developer with several years of experience. In her spare time she enjoys the busy college life, and writes for some top design blogs.