I am often asked about niching down and so I thought I’d address the most frequently asked questions that I receive.
The first question is: Why do I need a niche?
Here’s the nitty gritty about niching down. When you don’t have a niche, you aren’t able to focus and create content that reaches the people you are meant to serve.
A Photographer as an Example of Niching Down
Jane loves to work with families and capture memories that will last a lifetime. Nothing makes her happier than capturing those precious moments, smiles, and hugs, and twirls of children while their parents stand by and take in the joy of the moment. Looking at the proofs after the shoot Jane’s heart skips a beat when she sees the expression on the mom’s face as she watched her children candidly connect with each other. Her sales sessions are graceful and produce additional revenue because she is able to sell the memories she’s captured and create artwork for her client’s homes and offices.
When Niching Down is Avoided, People Get Confused
But, Jane sees other photographers working all year and doing headshot sessions and wants to tap into that additional source of revenue. She figures it’s an easy way to make extra money, especially in the months when family portraits are slower.
After making this decision Jane starts marketing herself as a headshot photographer. She gets a few clients but isn’t relaxed and doesn’t feel good after the sessions. Her confidence isn’t the same when working with professionals as it is when capturing families and children. The lack of confidence is causing her to not trust herself and this lack of trust in herself is coming through during sessions, and her clients don’t feel comfortable or trust her. As a result, the clients are flat in the headshot images and don’t look relaxed or approachable. The clients aren’t happy and neither is Jane. She continues down this path and is now being questioned by her family portrait clients about whether or not she is still doing family portraits.
The number of likes she’s getting on social media is much lower when she posts headshots compared to her family portrait work.
What is happening?
Jane’s messaging has become confusing. She is no longer reaching her ideal audience. Trying to be everything to everyone, and it isn’t working. Business is slowing because people are confused about what she does and who she serves through her photography. Niching down is important for creating clear and consistent messaging to avoid confusion.
The bottom line, as you can see in this example, is that you need a niche to focus on and define who your ideal audience is. Niching down is important for having clarity around your brand messaging, having confidence and trust in the work you do and fulfilling yourself as a business owner, and meeting the needs and wants of your clients.
The second question is: What if I’m multi-passionate?
Not a problem. You can be multi-passionate, but you still need to identify your ideal audience. You can’t serve everyone effectively. This means you can’t do everything for everyone and be efficient. When you are speaking to everyone, you are speaking to no one. Niching down becomes critical for identifying your ideal audience so that you can create content that resonates with them.
What I suggest to my clients who are multi-passionate is that they become the brand and have umbrellas underneath the main brand.
Message Clarity is Key and Why Niching Down is Important
You can create messaging effectively if you have definitive roles. Let’s take Jane as an example.
If Jane is multi-passionate about being a family and children’s portrait photographer, and a headshot photographer, she needs to have clear messaging on her website. She needs to have proof that she is an expert and authority in both types of photography. Jane, nor anyone else, can flip-flop from one thing to another depending on the time of year and whether or not she is booked with clients.
The question becomes, how can she effectively have multiple passions successfully?
First of all her business name should not be some cute little name indicating that she is a family and children’s photographer. Doing so would not attract professionals needing a headshot. Likewise, if she had a headshot in the name of her business, she wouldn’t attract family portrait clients.
What she can do is use her name, or a less specific name for her business and the services page on her website should specify the opportunities people have to work with her. She should also have portfolios for each type of client. Portfolios and testimonials for both types of clients are what will prove that she is an expert in both types of photography.
Niching down doesn’t mean you have to give up on your passions. You can successfully incorporate them into your business successfully as long as your messaging and communication plan are clear, cohesive, and consistent.
What Not to Do
What she shouldn’t do is what I used in the example above. You can’t be a family portrait photographer for part of the year and a headshot photographer the other part of the year unless of course, this is your business model and you have effectively established your messaging around that business model.
Do you see how if she works with one type of client part of the year and the other type of client another part of the year it looks like she is just trying to keep her pocket-book full of money?
What To Do
Whereas if her website and messaging all state she serves both audiences she can easily reach both audiences and prove she is a master at both types of photography.
Something to remember is an analogy that my friend and previous guest on the show, Pia Silva, made during her interview. If you want more details, go back and listen to episode 26. But for now, think of an hourglass. You have the wide-open space at the top where all of your ideas and passions are. Then the hourglass becomes narrow. This is when you niche down. Once you have niched down, you can identify your ideal audience, focus on finding out where they are so that you can be present on those platforms too, and create brand messaging that is going to resonate with them.
Now that you have fine-tuned your brand messaging and your business is functioning at a level that you can manage, you can think about opening back up. Just as the hourglass widens at the bottom, your product offerings can expand. The key is to be sure that they align with the original niche so that you can maintain clarity and confidence in your messaging.
The third question is: How do I Decide on My Niche?
This is where my brand equation comes into play. To identify your niche, you can make a list of your values, visions, and passions.
Values come first because if your core values are not at the foundation of your brand, you will not be able to have clarity, and confidence or serve your audience.
Your visions are how you see yourself. How you see yourself interacting with clients. What you see yourself doing. Who do you see yourself working with and serving?
Next are your passions. What lights you up? Think about what it is that you do that makes you feel the most fulfilled, happy, joyful, or accomplished. Is it a hobby, speaking, or teaching? We all have something that we do that just lights our hearts and soul on fire.
Now that you have made your three lists, where is there crossover? Are there any synergies, marriages, or things that align?
Sarah’s core values include compassion, empathy, faith, and service. She sees herself working with children and she sees herself speaking and guiding. Sarah is passionate about sharing her knowledge and has a love of learning. For years, Sarah has been writing as a hobby and putting together snippets of stories and compiling Bible verses that have influenced how she sees the world and how she lives her life and wants her kids to live their lives.
Now that Sarah has her list, she can think about where they align.
There seems to be a thread with faith, serving, a love of learning and writing, and speaking. What could Sarah do to create a business around her values, visions, and passions?
She could write children’s books, she could write devotionals for children, could become a teacher, could start a YouTube channel or monthly membership program for children, or start a tutoring business for children.
The opportunities really are endless if your values are at the core of the business you start.
The fourth question is: How do I know that My Niche is the Right Fit for me?
This is probably the easiest question to answer. You’ll know your niche is right for you when you have absolute clarity and confidence in what you are doing. That you trust yourself as the expert that you are. When you feel fulfilled at the end of the workday you will know you are on the right track. And, you won’t mind doing the work to get you to the point of success. You will see every part of the journey as a stepping stone toward your end goal.
The 5th question is: How do I determine if my Niche can be profitable?
Any hobby or passion can be turned into a business. Will it be easy to make money initially? Not necessarily, but if you are hesitating to start a business because you are afraid you won’t make money here are some things you can do to help you decide if your business will be profitable.
- Poll your friends and family and ask if they would purchase your product or service.
- Use your Google search bar and see if there are other businesses in your niche. Follow that business on social media and see how they are doing.
- Calculate your overhead, the number of hours you will have to work to create a product or perform the service you are going to offer, and think about how many items or service hours will you have to sell to come out even. Your time is the most precious thing you have. You do not want to work for free so be sure to put a value on your time. And, keep in mind, that your God-given gift is meant to serve a certain population. There may be others doing what you do, but none of them will be doing it the unique way you do.
- If your business model doesn’t seem profitable, revisit it and see how you could make changes to allow for a higher profit margin.
- Or, if it does seem profitable, start your brand creation by being the face of your brand and telling your story. Once you have crafted your story, you can begin the marketing by communicating your story and attracting clients.
Questions About Niching Down
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