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Do I really have to pick a niche? I hear this question a lot from creative freelancers — usually accompanied by a smidge of a whine.

Here’s how I answer: “No, you don’t have to. It’s your life, it’s your business — you can do whatever you want. But if you don’t choose a market, you will most likely be a blur in the eyes of your prospects.”

You may say, “I can do anything for anyone,” but prospects won’t know how to categorize you.

Or you may say, “I don’t want to be pigeonholed!” The truth is, you’ll be pigeonholed either way; prospects need to categorize you to understand you.

I say, don’t let them pigeonhole you — go ahead, pigeonhole yourself first! Do this according to what you want to do and what the world needs. It’s better than letting someone else choose how to see you.

So again, you may wonder, “Do I really have to focus?” And I would say:

• No, but if you don’t, you won’t know where to find your best prospects. You’ll be going to all sorts of events. You’ll be taking whatever comes along.

• No, but if you don’t, you won’t know what to say on your website, or in your email newsletter, because for those marketing tools to work, you have to be saying something that’s relevant to someone specific.

• No, but if you don’t, you won’t know what to blog about, you won’t know what to podcast about and you won’t be able to do social media, because you won’t know who you’re talking to.

• No, but if you don’t, you won’t know who to say no to.

Focus is the key to success. Focus is structure. It’s narrowing your options. It’s saying no to certain projects and clients so you can say yes to better ones.

Focus really does make your life simpler. It makes your choices easier. It makes you feel less scattered. It brings a sense of calm. And you are rewarded with better clients, better projects and better pay.

The next challenge, of course, is which niche to pick. Download the Niche Checklist to get a list of 60+ to choose from.

Ilise Benun helps creative professionals get better projects with bigger budgets. She is the founder of Marketing-Mentor.com, a national speaker and the author of 7 business books. Download the Niche Checklist to get a list of 60+ to choose from and join the Find Your Focus Hive for more ideas and to connect with other freelancers who are also busy finding their niche.