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Carving Out a Niche in the Design Industry

Carving Out a Niche in the Design Industry


It may come as a shock, but the design industry can be very competitive and sometimes cutthroat. Even the most talented and experienced graphic designers among us will tell you how difficult it can be at times, to earn a living.

That is because in order to make a living from design, a graphic designer must always be on the lookout for new work. As you know, finding new clients and keeping the old ones around is a tough task. To do this, graphic designers have to be part designer and part salesman.

This can put us in a tough position; designers who spend too much time chasing after leads can quickly find themselves with no time to actually design. Conversely, graphic designers who spend too much time designing may also find that they don’t have enough clients to support the business.

Every industry struggles with the battle between sales and production and designers know this struggle all too well; but what many designers don’t know is that there is a way to reduce the burden. Carve out a niche!

Carving out a niche in an industry is one way that a designer can cope with the battle between sales and production. In this article I hope to explain what a niche is and how you can use one to increase the number of clients you work with without having to hire a full-time sales team.

What is a Niche Designer?

When I talk about a niche designer, I’m typically referring to some one who only designs a specific type of product. Niche designers may only design t-shirts, billboards, banner ads, logos, websites, or just about any other item you can think of. In addition, a niche designer may only work for a specific industry; fashion design, real estate, or government for instance.

How Do You Become a Niche Designer?

The best thing about niche design, is that it can be anything you want it to be. There are several ways to become a niche designer. Some niche designers find their niche by accident; others make a conscious decision to work in a specific industry. Either way, becoming a niche designer is easy. Just single out an industry that could use your help and start working with and making connections with those types of clients.

Benefits to Niche Design

There are many benefits to niche design. As you know, there are a lot of designers out there competing with you for work. Niche designers may find that the pool of designers competing with them on projects is reduced; therefore the odds of landing a project are higher.

Niche designers may also find that they can become an expert in their industry. Becoming an expert is always helpful because people will begin counting on you for advice; and of course work.

Since you only work for a particular industry you may also find that more and more of your work comes from referrals. This is great because it means you will have to spend less time selling yourself to clients and have more time to design.

When Niche Design Goes Bad

While there are many benefits to niche design, there are also several drawbacks. If you have ever invested in the stock market you have probably been told about the importance of diversification. Diversification is important because if one of your stocks takes a dive, you still have other investments to help spread the load. This same principle applies to graphic design. Putting all your eggs in one basket can be risky. If your design niche is seasonal, then you may need to find other sources of income during the downtime. In addition, niches can some time collapse. What if the bottom drops out of your market or what if a new product comes along that completely devastates your niche? If that does happen you will be thankful to have a diverse pool of clients to fall back on.


Carving out a niche is just one of several ways to build your design business. There are several benefits to this strategy but there are risks as well. While carving out a niche is important you should try not to become too reliant upon it. Do your best to spread out the risk among several unrelated industries that way you don’t find yourself in too hot of water if something bad does happen.

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