Friday #1: Know Your Niche
Aaaand we’re off!
This is the moment we’ve all been waiting for. It’s the moment where we pull out our pens, paper, thinking caps, and even therapist couches to prepare to change our lives (and businesses) for the better. We’re upping the ante on our offerings, our business models, services, and networks in order to see the growth needed to do what you love full-time. My goal is to roll out tips in a step-by-step format, but I understand that many of you aren’t starting from Square One—you’re probably at Square Three or Four. Even still, it’s important to remain nimble and willing to tweak your business as needed. It’s never too late to go back and change how you’ve been doing things all along, especially if what you’ve been doing isn’t quite giving the results you want.
Over the next 5 Fridays, I’ll be covering:
- Defining your niche
- Building your platform
- Utilizing your network
- Analyzing your pricing
- Making key sacrifices
No matter where you are in the business-building process, each is a crucial component to success as a freelancer-turned-full-time-Funemployed business owner. They’ve been tested by me, implemented by my clients, and are proven to work when executed with dedication and effort. On the surface it may sound all “woo-woo!” and fluffy, but doggone it, it works. And by no means am I perfect; no, I’m also in the process of making changes to my business model, website, fine-tuning my offerings, etc. That’s the beauty of this Funemployed life—you can always go back and think of ways to make what you’re doing more effective.
So, without further ado, let’s swan dive right in.
Friday #1: Know Your Niche
Think about the last time you were in the market for a medical professional.
You may have asked a family member or friend for their recommendations, or you may have hopped on the good ol’ faithful Google machine to search for the best in the business. Whatever method you used, I’m willing to bet my right big toe (and the big toe’s important!) that you didn’t type into the search bar, "Best doctors near me”. Best doctors? What does that even mean? That’s like searching for a tear drop in a swimming pool. Instead, you search: “Best primary care physician near me” or “Best endocrinologist near me” or “Best cardiologist near me”.
What’s the difference between the first search and the last three? Specificity. Niche.
Medical professionals don’t just go to school to become “a doctor”; nope, they pick a speciality. They pick a speciality because they know it’s virtually impossible to be a Jack-of-All-Trades and also master them all. So, what we get are cardiologists, oncologists, dermatologists, gastroenterologists, and the list goes on. Even on Grey’s Anatomy (which is where I received my medical degree), the surgeons at some point had to pick their speciality. Alex Karev eventually chose Pediatrics, Jackson Avery chose Plastic Surgery (R.I.P. Mark Sloan) and Cristina Yang was arguably the best darn Cardiologist in the nation.
So here’s where you come in. What’s your specialty?
If you’re a photographer, what’s your niche? Instead of just marketing yourself as a “Photographer,” pick the area you perform best in and make that your selling point. Otherwise, you’re competing with a million photographers in your area, and the person searching for a tear drop in a swimming pool might just miss the opportunity to scoop you up.
So go from “Photographer” to
- Street Style Photographer (perfect for bloggers, clothing boutiques)
- Professional Headshot Photographer (can we say “corporate dollars”?!)
- LGBT Wedding Photographer
- Hair Photographer (Contract with hair salons to do all “After” photos for their website)
Go from “Freelance Writer” to
- Relationship columnist
- Social Justice journalist
- Website copywriter
- Professional bio extraordinaire
- Cover letter expert
It may seem like you’re cutting yourself out of getting as much work as possible, but rest assured that you’re not pigeonholing yourself; people will pay top dollar for a specialist because they know the work is good. That’s why medical specialist co-pays are higher.
My agency, Leap Innovative Group, is a digital marketing and branding agency. When people hear “digital marketing” and “branding,” they usually follow up with something like, “Oh good! I need a website and new logo, can I get your card?” Sorry, Susan, but the “digital marketing” I specialize in involves social media and email campaigns, and the “branding” is all about developing your story and creating a strong brand identity. And while full-service agencies absolutely exist, Leap isn’t one of them; I have a specialty, and am happy to point you to the right folks who can do an amazing job at what you’re looking for. As a result, when people know someone with a social media need, I’m one of the first people they think of.
Remember: In order to say Yes to some things, you have to be willing to say No to a lot of other things.
Another example (because I LOVE examples):
Graphic designers can design any and everything, because once you know the software, you can pretty much do it all. But what if instead of “Graphic Designer,” you marketed:
- Your ability to create clean, unique event flyers
- Your package of social media campaign graphics, complete with properly-sized & branded social media profile pics, cover photos, and graphics that meet Facebook’s text-to-image ratio requirements
- Unique business card designs (because there’s nothing more mortifying than exchanging business cards with someone who has the SAME VistaPrint template as you. Yes, this has happened to me.)
- One-of-a-kind, custom wedding invitations
Do you get my drift?
By developing a niche, you’re more likely to stay top of mind when people have a specific need.
After all, every business exists because there’s a need. How can you succeed if you don’t know what need you’re fulfilling?
Think about your business and the service/product you’re offering. Write out a list of every specialty and niche that can come out of your industry. Write down every. Single. One. Then narrow down the list of ones that speak to your heart’s desire, the ones that would get you leaping out of bed every morning and excited to get to work. That’s what Funemployment is all about—making a living by doing what you love.
'Til next week!
- Janna M. Hall