A common way to specialize is to target a specific industry. I've researched high-potential client industries for freelance web & graphic designers who focus on digital marketing. These creatives deliver things such as display advertising, landing pages, campaign sites, social media profiles, and promotional emails. I want to share my findings with you.
A niche is a combination of the product or service offered (the “what?”) and the targeted market (the “for whom?”). Two examples of digital marketing niches are “landing pages for law firms,” and “social media marketing for restaurants.”
You can pick any combination of a product offered and a targeted market as a niche, but to find the most promising niches you need to ask:
- what grows?
- what pays?
- who buys the growing & high-paying what?
You want to be in a growing niche. It has space for new players.
If you are into marketing and advertising you definitely want to be on the digital side of things.
It's no secret print advertising has been in decline for a long time. Print is still around, but digital marketing grows stronger every year.
Just to make sure I went to “Google Trends” to check:
Even “landing pages,” a niche within digital marketing, surpasses print advertising in interest:
You want to offer services that pay well.
There is definitely a growing interest for digital marketing, but are creatives making money in the niche?
A clear sign of what pays is how much your competitors are investing in advertising for it.
We go back to Google, but this time to “Google AdWords:”
Look at the table below! The bids on “digital marketing” and other related keywords are 3 to 10 times higher than for “print advertising.” The suggested bids clearly tell you where the money is.
High competition is good.
High bids mean the competition is stiff in the niche, but they also mean people are making money.
Who Buys the What?
Now we know that the digital marketing niche both grows and pays off. But which client industries are the best to target for your digital marketing offer?
You want to target industries that:
- show interest in buying digital marketing services
- and have the money to pay for it
I used “Google Instant” to find client industries showing interest in digital marketing. Google Instant is the function that automatically suggests keywords as you type in the search box.
Basically Google Instant shows you what people search for the most.
I searched for “digital marketing for…”, and then watched the industries suggested.
I continued to do the same for seven other marketing disciplines closely related to digital marketing:
- digital marketing for…
- social media marketing for…
- web design for…
- landing pages for…
- mobile marketing for…
- email marketing for…
- online advertising for…
- online marketing for…
In the below example “real estate” was the first client industry showing up when typing in “landing pages for…”
Top 3 Client Industries for Digital Marketing
The above searches gave me 262 industries interested in digital marketing. Too many, everything from “law firms” to “plumbers” came up.
Which of these client industries had the highest potential?
Back to Google AdWords! For every combination of the above searches, e.g. “landing pages for law firms,” I checked:
- monthly search volume
- advertiser competition
To qualify for high potential Google Instant had to suggest the client industry for many forms of digital marketing. For example, “real estate” was suggested for all eight digital marketing disciplines, while “plumbers” only was suggested for one. The advertiser competition had to be stiff (remember, stiff competition means people are making money in the niche,) and the niche had to have healthy monthly search volumes.
These client industries came out as the top three for digital marketing:
- Real Estate
- Legal Services
Other High-Potential Industries for Digital Marketing
The table lists 16 client industries with very high (H+) to mid-level potential (M.) The order of potential is obviously a bit approximate. There are always a few rotten apples in every niche, so please see the “red flags” in the comments.
I've weeded out 245 industries with low or very low potential.
|H+||REAL ESTATE||Real estate, real estate agents, realtors||Small business real estate agents, brokers, lessors of real estate, and other real estate related activities are often very profitable|
|H+||RESTAURANTS||Restaurants||Avoid mom & pops since they are considered high-maintenance clients.|
|H+||LEGAL SERVICES||Lawyers, law firms||Profitable small business sector.|
|H||EVENTS||Events||Tree main sectors: 1) Sports events 2) Meetings, conference, expos for business 3) Cultural, arts, and music events.
Small theaters often have very limited budgets.
|H||MUSICAL ARTISTS||Bands, musicians, music artists||Artists are often considered high-maintenance clients.|
|H||NONPROFIT ORGANIZATIONS||Nonprofits, charities|
|M||DENTAL SERVICES||Dentists||Offices of dentists is a profitable small business sector.|
|M||FINANCIAL SERVICES||Banks, financial services, financial advisors.|
|M||RETAILERS||Retail, retailers||Avoid mom & pops since they are considered high-maintenance clients.|
|M||ACCOUNTANTS||Accountants||Accounting, tax preparation, bookkeeping, and payroll services is a profitable small business sector.|
|M||MEDICAL SERVICES||Doctors, healthcare, hospitals||Service-based businesses in health care are profitable. Offices of physicians, other health practitioners, and outpatient care centers is a profitable small business sector.
Unsure if specializing is right for you? Read To Specialize or Not to Specialize as a Designer?
Want more niche inspiration? Check out these 170+ examples of specialized creative professionals!