This is a post from a member of the Freelancers Union community. If you’re interested in sharing your expertise, your story, or some advice you think will help a fellow freelancer out, feel free to send your blog post to us here.
Many people will tell you product-market fit — “being in a good market with a product that can satisfy that market,” according to mega-investor Marc Andreessen — is the best way to determine a product or service to sell.
Product-market fit is important, don’t get me wrong. But, its success (especially for freelancers) comes from your ability to show potential clients why they should care about your services — marketing yourself — as opposed to relying on a product or service to market itself by virtue of its perceived want or need in the market.
The beauty of freelancing is that it enables you to put your happiness before that of anyone else — to choose the services we offer, how we offer them, to whom we offer them, et cetera — which has little to do with product-market fit, and everything to do with choosing a set of services that truly make you happy (financially, creatively and spiritually) on a day-to-day basis.
Freelancing, therefore, is much less about the market (potential clients), and much more about you, the freelancer.
With that said, here are two primary ways to determine which services to offer:
The Self-Awareness Inventory
First, honestly and comprehensively outline your strengths (things you’re good at), weaknesses (things you’re not so good at), passions (things you care about) and pains (things that annoy you).
Then, discard your weaknesses and passions — there’s no good reason to spend valuable time on things you’re not good at and things that annoy you — and double-down on the combination of your strengths and passions.
Process by Elimination
If you’re not quite sure about your strengths, weaknesses, passions and pains, start by offering something — anything — as a way to better understand how you fit into these four categories.
The more you do, the clearer it will be:
I really like doing this! (passion — offer more of this)
Wow, this is so annoying! (pain — offer less of this)
This is a lot harder than I thought it would be! (weakness — offer less of this)
I’m actually pretty good at this! (strength — offer more of this)
By continuing to iterate on your strengths and passions, you’ll get expeditiously better at your craft. The result: bigger and better clients who will allow you the creative freedom to do your thing.