Blog Post

Selling the Multi-Skilled Freelancer: Single or Separate Storefronts?

197640807_d2112d8666In a previous post, I explored the differences between freelancers who monetize just one professional skill and those who sell multiple skills. If you’re the latter kind, and market yourself as a copywriter/designer/consultant/etc., then you’ve probably faced this dilemma: Should you sell all your services through one storefront or  have several? Is just one blog or web site enough, or should you create separate sites for each service you offer?

I found myself contemplating these questions recently, and I’ve realized that there are advantages and disadvantages to both options.

The Single Storefront Approach

A single storefront that covers all your services has its benefits. It makes sense to go this route if you want to reach the same target market, regardless of the variety of services you’re selling. This can work wonders if you’ve already established your expertise, and have gained a good reputation among your clients and their peers.

This can also be beneficial to customers who are looking for one team or person to fulfill all their needs. From design to copywriting to online marketing, these big clients might want you to handle more than one phase of a project. If that’s the case, then they’d prefer having just one contact person for the entire project, rather than several.

Having just one storefront also has its practical advantages. It’s affordable, and easier to update and market. Since you’re just managing one web site or blog, you don’t have to split your marketing and maintenance efforts — all of them will be channeled to one portal only.

Having Separate Storefronts

Still, having separate web sites for each service can have its own benefits. First of all, you won’t be tied to serving just one target market. You can tailor each site to suit whichever market you want to serve.

Also, if you’re providing unrelated services — medical transcription, web design and online marketing consultancy, for example — it will be less confusing to your audience if each of those services has its own portal. Your sites will be easier to navigate individually, and your potential clients won’t get lost in information that is irrelevant to them.

Multiple storefronts can also give you the freedom to work with a wider variety of clients. If you don’t want to limit yourself to one market, but you don’t want to make your personal brand confusing either, it can be better for you to set up a separate site for each service you want to provide.

Personally, I keep my services under a single storefront as much as possible. It’s more practical to do so if you’re working with a limited budget and don’t have the time to maintain and manage several sites. But there are some instances where I am forced to separate them due to differences in target markets.

How about you? Are you a multi-skilled service provider? Do you keep all of your services in one storefront or several?

Image by tinfoilraccoon from Flickr

6 Responses to “Selling the Multi-Skilled Freelancer: Single or Separate Storefronts?”

  1. I have thought about this problem a lot. What has preoccupied me most is whether to keep personal and professional brands separate. Do you run both a personal blog which you populate with bio information and personal thoughts as well as your ‘on-topic’ blog or website? Or do you do it all on one site and let your personal brand merge with your professional brand. I’m currently using the latter technique and sometimes get the feeling that I am becoming my professional brand. I’m worried that the next time someone asks me my name, I’ll say ‘saynototheoffice’ instead of ‘Jon’!

  2. As someone who offers a range of services from video production to web design, to consulting (itself in a range of areas), I have found it really important to make all of them very visible.

    I think it would be extremely inefficient to break them all up just so that individual clients or viewers would feel like they were dealing with a specialist. Plus, by combining them all under one umbrella, I have ended up with many clients who needed help in those other areas but would never have known about them if I didn’t make it available.

    I do think that the different services offered need to be related. Mine all surround digital media creation, for example. If I was also a carpenter or an accountant those would need to be separate.

  3. I have thought about this a lot as it affects how I blog as well. I have tended to blog about a lot of things but have spun off sites focusing on posts that were generating a lot of traffic. Makes managing them all a real pain though and thus the hesitation to work on 5 blogs simulataneously. The benefits are there though so I guess my advice is consider how important certain aspects of your biz are and then follow through on to go solo front or not.

  4. I have always worked through one storefront. However, sometimes I think I should specialize and focus on that specialty in my branding. then if a client asks if I can also do this other thing, I can say yes. I might get more business if I focus, for example, on WordPress and Drupal development. I haven’t tried that kind of specialization yet.