Specialist Or Generalist Freelancer | Which is best for you?
“Wouldn’t I need a specialist for this particular task?” is a phrase I hear from time to time and it is a very valid question. There are many types of consultants and freelancers, both generalists and specialists. I personally have much more of a generalist skillset but I don’t ever see it as a disadvantage in my field. The reason is that it would take many individual specialists to complete a lot of the work I undertake for clients.
What is the advantage of a generalist?
As a generalist, I can offer a 360 view and perspective on your project because I understand all the different aspects of it and how they slot together. Often with many people working on a task things can get misinterpreted and left out in the cross over. Another big advantage of generalists is that they can offer excellent value for money, which brings us on to the next question.
Which is more expensive a generalist or specialist freelancer?
This actually becomes a bit of a bigger question on what is right for you or your business. It becomes an agency of specialists Vs a generalist freelancer. With a freelancer, you can enquire about the skillset whereas in an agency it could be anyone from a senior to junior staff member with less experience in each specialism. So then the specialist is actually less experienced than the generalist in this case. You can read more in my agency Vs freelancer discussion.
Does that mean I don’t do a professional or competent job as a specialist?
No, not at all. I am passionate about the fields I work in and keep up to date with all the latest trends. Everyone has a different way of working but I pride myself on the work I do for clients and always strive to offer professional solutions to problems. I also aim to hold certifications in as many fields as time and other commitments will allow. I am fully transparent about the qualifications and certifications I hold, my past experience, as well as previous clients and projects I have worked on.
Why wouldn’t you specialise in a particular field?
I personally have never wanted to because the more you specialise, the less control you have over the final outcome. I don’t want to work on projects where I am not happy with how other parts of the work have been handled. There is nothing more disheartening to me than putting lots of effort into a project only for it to be let down in other areas.
What is the disadvantage of a generalist?
This is not actually aimed at generalists but more towards clients, make sure you do your research. Don’t take anyone’s word when they are trying to sell you something. Make sure you have seen some past examples of work and where this isn’t possible, be sure to look at reviews and testimonials, making sure they are legitimate. There are far too many freelancers and agencies around that just don’t know what they are doing and learning as they go. This then leads to poor quality work, deadlines being missed, and more expenses once the project is finished. I get a lot of people who come to me from other freelancers and agencies that have let them down, so just be sure to do your research.
Which is the better a generalist or specialist?
It’s really not that simple unfortunately, a specialist is great for getting one single task done. But 9 times out of 10 getting one task done in isolation is very ineffective and you need to have other specialists working with them to achieve the goal effectively. That is where a generalist can undertake all the work and usually offer a discount on the work because they have fewer overheads.