We hear the word “niche” SO often in the business world…
“Find your niche.”
“What’s your niche?”
It’s a phrase that gets thrown around so much it quickly loses its meaning and becomes a cliche.
But niching down is more than just a trending expression. The challenge is that while it IS as necessary as you’ve heard, most people don’t really get why.
Without a deep understanding of what a niche is, how to choose one, and why it can be a gamechanger in your business, it can be easy to put it on the backburner as something you’ll get around to later.
If you’ve been putting off niching down or are struggling to define YOUR niche (so many choices!) I wrote this blog with you in mind.
Here, we’ll explore the importance of defining and sticking to your niche as a creative business owner. Because staying in your lane isn’t about “staying in your place,” it’s about knowing what you do and who you serve, so unwaveringly and so deeply, you feel grounded in your work and the direction of your business.
Let’s frame our conversation about niching down around a relatable experience.
If you or a loved one needed heart surgery, you’d expect to arrive at the doctor’s office to meet with a doctor specializing in cardiology and surgery. But imagine arriving and being met with a general physician (you know, the kind of internal medicine doctor you’d visit for your annual check-up). The general physician may be super intelligent and well-trained. But you need heart surgery, which is not this person’s specialty.
How would that appointment go?
That general physician is probably SUPER helpful when you have a cold or need a check-up, and I’m sure she knows her stuff… BUT even if she knows tons about health, she simply isn’t an expert when it comes to heart surgery.
That’s because a general practitioner needs to know a lot about common health issues and a little about specialized areas– just enough to be able to identify an issue and refer you to the right specialist.
It makes me think of a common expression:
Now, there’s definitely a time and a place for being a “Jack of all trades.” It’s not necessarily a bad thing, and originally the phrase was intended to have a positive connotation.
Being well-rounded and having a broad knowledge of many topics is handy for dinner parties and trivia nights, not so much for your business strategy.
When it comes to who you serve and how you serve them, whether you’re a doctor or a creative entrepreneur, there’s a time and place for being a generalist. However, being masterful at something specific is more advantageous for you, your business, and, most importantly, your client.
It is better to be a specialist than a generalist in most cases, which is why niching down in your business is crucial.
When you work in a specific niche, you’ll be familiar with your clients’ everyday challenges and concerns. This understanding allows you to anticipate their needs and serve as a guide through an experience that is new to them but familiar to you.
If you constantly jump between tons of different projects that are nothing alike, you’ll start (basically) from scratch each and every time. Instead, if you focus on similar projects, it will be easier for you to approach the work, handle unexpected situations with grace, and meet best practices in your specific industry. You’ll waste less time scrambling, which means less stress for you and your client and more efficiency on projects (this could even save you time)!
Put simply: when you narrow your niche, you know your stuff. For example, suppose you are a copywriter for interior designers. In that case, you may not know what words or phrases might land in the tech world, but you’ll be able to support your interior design clients better than any general writer ever could! There’s less of a learning curve, and you and your clients will speak a common language. You’ll be able to show up as the expert that can do the job best for YOUR ideal client, not just any client who comes your way.
This may be reason enough for niching down! Being an expert typically means you can charge more for your products or services. People will pay for your skill, expertise, and familiarity with the niche and industry you serve. Remember, while clients pay for the transformation you deliver at the end, they also pay for a smooth experience. People don‘t worry about spending time and money, and they worry about WASTING time and money. Knowing that you know what you’re doing when it comes to their specific project will make paying YOU over the average professional in your industry a no-brainer!
If you’ve never been able to create a system within your business, it might not be your own lack of organization. Instead, it’s likely because you haven’t truly niched down yet. Without a niche, every project feels brand new. You don’t have a tried and true plan in place that you can follow because you’ve never worked quite this way before. Niching down will allow you to create rock-solid processes that you can lean on repeatedly. It’s the key to working smarter, not harder.
When you try to do everything and anything, you likely won’t be able to do it without leaning on support. There’s NOTHING wrong with hiring a team or outsourcing support, but if you aren’t niched down, this could significantly increase your overhead and complicate things.
When you niche down, you may realize that you don’t need to outsource as much. Plus, it’s easier to predict costs upfront when you’ve been around the block a few times. In fact, you’ll probably develop a solid list of go-to resources that you can work with again and again. When you have a clear niche, it’ll be easier to name your rates and confidently know that the price your clients pay will allow you to get the job done well and account for additional expenses that may pop up (because you’ve encountered them before, you won’t be surprised).
When you choose and commit to a specific niche, you’ll enhance your marketing initiatives and develop clear, cohesive brand messaging with EASE. You’ll speak to EXACTLY what problem you solve and who you solve it for. Your ideal client should land on your website, IG profile, or Clubhouse account and think, “AHA! I’ve found my person!” It makes you the easy and obvious choice.
I’ve saved the most important (in my opinion) for last. You see, there’s a time early on in business where it can be helpful to be scrappy. You take on unfamiliar projects, push yourself out of your comfort zone, and say “yes” to clients more often than not.
But just because you CAN do something, doesn’t mean you SHOULD or even WANT to. And as you develop your skills, build your confidence, and define your passions, niching down allows you to focus on being really good at one or a few key things.
Hear me out.
When you try to become a full-service, one-size-fits-all, one-stop-shop business, you attract a certain client.
Hint: it may not be who you WANT to work with.
When you zoom in on the work you want to do instead of feeling swayed by what others want you to do or be, you’ll feel more fulfilled by your work and attract the clients who truly want and value the expertise you’ve developed.
There isn’t just one way to choose a niche. You can niche down in many different ways! You can choose to have one overall niche or you can select several niches to truly set yourself apart.
Consider niching by:
It’s up to you to decide how narrow your niche is. For example, you could choose to niche down by service: “I create websites.”
OR you can get more specific and push beyond just the what. Consider the WHO and the HOW. Maybe that becomes: “I create Squarespace websites for wedding planners.”
Being specific is to your advantage. When you speak to everyone, you speak to no one, so while you may THINK you’re keeping opportunities open by creating websites for everybody, you’ll actually find less success than you will if you create websites for a very specific person or industry.
Keep in mind that your niche isn’t set in stone! That’s the beauty of being your own boss– your niche can evolve and change. You can narrow further or expand at any time, and you’ll probably do this a few times before you get it right!
When I first started my business, I worked ONLY with graphic designers. It was the background I came up through, and I understood the nuances of that industry inside and out. The design world was where I was most comfortable and confident. But over time and with experience, I learned that how I was serving people worked well for all creative entrepreneurs.
This evolution didn’t happen overnight, though. I found my new niche gradually by helping other creatives and testing out my theories before committing to widening my niche. While I still specialize in working with service-based creatives, I have found a lot of overlap in hybrid business models – and I learned a lot about the product side of things as I worked with more and more creatives who had both services and products as their revenue streams.
Sometimes you know right away what your niche will be, and other times you discover it as you go along. You might surprise yourself and find or even create a niche that you would never have expected when you first started!
To solidify the importance of niching down, let’s think about it from a customer’s point of view. Who would you prefer to hire when you are in the market for any service?
Person A: The generalist. You ask if they can help you with your problem, and they respond, “Ummm, sure, I can figure it out!” Their lack of confidence doesn’t exactly inspire confidence in YOU! They turn around and use their broad, general knowledge (and a helpful tip or two from ever-trusted Google) to figure it out. Is this really where you’d want to spend your hard-earned money?
OR would you prefer Person B: An expert with a track record of success in whatever service or product you were looking for?
I think we’d both agree; Person B sounds like the most reliable choice.
…so who do you think YOUR customers would choose?
By finding your niche and staying in your lane, you are far more likely to find success, build authority, scale faster and be more profitable and fulfilled than if you take any and all opportunities regardless of fit.
It’s time for YOU to take action and niche down! I hope that knowing your niche can (and most likely will) evolve and change takes the pressure off a bit. You don’t have to commit to one specific niche for the rest of your life, but you do need to get clear on who you serve and what you want to specialize in the here and now.
A word of advice: reflect on what lights you UP while also considering where there is a genuine need! Sure, you might notice that a specific niche is incredibly lucrative, but it may not be worth it if you don’t enjoy the work. The best niche will fuse your passion, experience, and creative spark with a genuine need your audience has that only someone like YOU can solve!
Once you’ve defined the niche you will focus on, would you let me know?! Accountability is a massive piece of following through on your commitments, and if you need an accountability partner, I’d love to be that person for you!
Click here to shoot me an email and tell me your niche or let me know if you’re struggling to pick just one (so common for multi-talented creatives like you). I’d be happy to be your sounding board. I personally respond to every single email I receive and can’t wait to see your name pop up in my inbox!
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