One of the best strategies for building a busy, well-paid architectural practice is to develop a niche. The main obstacle for most firms is being recognized as knowledgeable about the niche and therefore considered or sought out for those niche projects.
Publishing on a topic is one of the key tactics in developing a niche and demonstrating your expertise in the project type. Fred Stitt, publisher of Guidelines newsletter and founder of the San Francisco Institute of Architecture, has described the process of developing a niche in his publications. Paraphrasing, these are the steps:
- Select a niche in which you have some expertise or interest, and that has potential.
- Collect research on everything you can find out about the niche.
- Tour buildings representing your proposed niche and interview the administration about what they like and dislike about the facility. Also find out about what the driving forces in their industry are.
- Join their industry organizations and read the publications that they read.
- Develop a contact list.
- Design solutions to the problems they face and write about solutions.
- Get published in the journals that they read. Mail the articles to your niche contacts. Create a quarterly or more frequent email newsletter containing solutions you have found.
- Make your website into a resource for the niche you are developing. Collect data from polls and surveys to share with your adopted industry.
A byproduct of this process is that you will get to know a lot of people in the industry you want to work for and will be in the right place at the right time to find out about upcoming projects. Always ask what they have in development and if they know of anyone else who is planning to do something.
The goal is to know as much as your clients do about their industry, and eventually, to know more so that you are the expert and can ask for a premium. You can imagine other things that you can do.
(This flowchart above shows the steps in the process of developing articles for publication and will enlarge when clicked.)
orig post date OCT 2012