You’ve worked hard to get where you are. You’ve developed many bankable skills. You have dreams of serving a wide variety of clients and building a profitable small business.
But you’re stumped when it comes to defining a single niche … or even two … for yourself.
Which skills do you leave out … or lump together? How do you position yourself when so many freelancers offer the exact same skills? Deciding can be downright intimidating.
How do you find that Golden Egg out of the many possibilities that position YOU best?
That was the problem posted a while back in a Facebook group. The member was a freelancer trying grow a virtual assistant (VA) business. Here’s an excerpt from her post:
… as a freelancer how do you niche down transcription, proofreading, data entry, and phone calls, and Microsoft Office? Looking for a way to define a niche for myself so that I know what to offer rather than not knowing.
I love helping someone like this figure things out, especially when it was obvious from her post that she at least understood trying to be everything for everybody wasn’t a good marketing strategy.
The first thing to clear up was her misunderstanding of the difference between a marketing niche and positioning your skills.
Portions of what follows are edited excerpts from of our conversation.
Niches are Not Skills
- Your skills are your services. Your target niche is about who you want most to use and buy your services. So to figure out your niche and how to attract clients, think about the similarities individuals within a niche have. For example:
- Do they share a profession, like being lawyers, accountants, artists, landscapers?
- Where do they work? In an office, on the road, from home?
- What other demographics and psycho-graphics do they share?
- What traits might your favorite clients share?
That prompted her next question along with a claim she was clueless about finding the answers.
How do you figure all that out?
After assuring her she was not clueless, I pointed out that I had already given her a starting point the questions I asked. There are a wealth of resources available on this topic found with some simple research, much of it free.
Scared … not Clueless
She wasn’t clueless. She was scared. Scared of getting it wrong. Wasting precious time and money chasing a market that, if she caught it, might leave her frustrated, broke, or disillusioned.
I told her:
My guess is you’re like many clients when they first come to me. They think they don’t know where to start but the truth is they do know. They’re just afraid of not getting it right.
It’s a legit fear. However, you need to decide if you’re more afraid of staying stuck or stepping forward with no guarantee what you do will pay off. That takes a leap of faith. I’m also guessing you’re ready to take that step of faith and just need a gentle push.
Figuring out the best, most productive niche for you is an ongoing process. It’s not just once and done. That’s true for _all_ of us in business.
No Golden Egg Guarantees of Getting It Right
Bummers. I know. But it’s true. There are no guarantees that you or anyone, including me, will get it right. And, certainly not right every time.
But I guarantee you this:
- You will fail if you don’t try.
- You will fail if you don’t get up and try again.
Here’s the rest of what I shared to help her move forward:
- Grab a paper and pen and start brainstorming answers to the example questions about identifying your niche from my first reply.
- You can’t do this just in your head. Write it down. Add to it as you think of more identifying features/stats.
- Don’t worry about whether what you write down is right or wrong. It’s a brainstorming thought process … you can’t get it wrong. Plus no one is judging you. (Except you … so stop that!)
- If you haven’t had any clients yet, or only a handful, imagine what your ideal client would be like. Give him or her a name, an identity, a history, a background, a place to live, family.
- What business services does _that_ person need and would be willing to pay for … if paying for assistance helped them generate more revenue?
- Once you have that person(s) clearly in mind, then start tweaking how you present yourself and your services, bearing in mind it’s not about you … it’s about THEM.
- Start investigating where those types of potential clients hang out. Local chamber of commerce meetings? Particular Facebook groups (like this one)? Who do you already know that could refer you or recommend that you contact them?
She could figure this out for herself. I was confident of that. Just as I’m confident that you, too, can figure it out if you’re struggling with the same problem.
I left her with:
You can do this. 🙂 But there’s no single right answer or single right way to do it, and certainly no one step solution. The process starts with YOU deciding to figure it out … then doing the preliminary work as I’ve outlined in general above.
Can you tell who I help from my title, brand name, and tagline?
Kat Sturtz of Rocking Your Path.
Business Life Mentor and The Purgatory Relief Coach for People Who Think Marketing is Hell.
BTW, I’ve been in business a long-time. I’m still tweaking. That title, brand name, and tag … are not what I started with in 1971.
Here’s the thing:
My target market … my particular niche … gets my “Purgatory Relief Coach” label, and that I’m a bit quirky and fun.
I started using that “Purgatory” title around 2015 because I discovered that too many in my target market weren’t familiar with the name or framework of “Guerrilla Marketing,”, which was first coined 25+ years ago by Jay Conrad Levinson. So my being a Certified Guerrilla Marketing Coach meant nothing to them. It even scared a few good prospects away because they feared my coaching and style of marketing would be too aggressive, too assertive, too win at all costs … which is definitely not my vibe at all.
I work primarily with home-based solopreneurs who are temporarily stumped, stuck, or stalled. I help them identify what’s really holding them back, and correct the problems so they can move past obstacles that had kept them trapped in despair and leaking money.
Contact me if you’d like to talk about your situation.
Are you clear about your niche?
Let me know in the Comments. I love to hear about what’s working for you … triumphs you’ve had, as well as what you may still be struggling with.
And feel free to share your own words of advice when it comes to defining a niche.
Very informational blog. When we are stuck in fear, we can not take action. And fear can be a good thing to get us off our butts and doing something.
Thanks, Cindy. Appreciate you taking time to comment. You’re right. People stuck in fear don’t take action, unless they figure out a way to move forward despite the fear.
It is a great start to differentiate what you do from who you want to do it for.
Thinking on paper involves more of the mind and focusses on answering the questions you asked. Once an idea has been written down, the mind does not have to keep cycling back to the same idea and digging the same hole deeper. Now it is free to dig deeper in a different place.
Keep diggin’ and bloggin’.
Hi Doug. We seem to think similarly on many topics. Appreciate your comment.