Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been talking about how to actually get paying clients for your service-based, online business. (In fact, last week I did an awesome free training on that very subject, and there’s a second one scheduled for TODAY!)
In the first post, I talked about how, when it comes to booking clients, it’s absolutely essential that you get the word out about your business, boldly proclaiming your abilities and your dream to everyone who will listen.
That’s tough stuff, so I followed it up with my three-step plan for putting yourself out there in order to help you overcome the fear and doubt that might be holding you back.
Today, I want to take this whole conversation a giant step further by focusing on the idea of knowing, with as much certainty as possible, who exactly you want to help and how exactly you want to help them.
Because the more specific you are about these two things, the easier every other thing – from developing your products and services to marketing your business to the right people to consistently getting paying clients – will be!
Keep reading to learn a seriously valuable strategy that I use with my own paying clients, particularly in my Make It Work Online program.
To Niche or Not to Niche: There is No Question!
Do you know how many chairs there are for sale online?
Me neither, actually. (Bear with me … I swear I’m going somewhere with this!)
But I do know that if you want to buy one, you won’t get anywhere by just Googling “chair.” In order to avoid getting millions of mostly unhelpful results and find the perfect chair for your needs, you’re going to have to get more specific. “Leather chair” is a start. “Handmade leather armchair with matching ottoman” is even better.
And furniture makers/sellers know this, which is why they create and market their products as specifically as possible. Think about the alternative: someone who only makes and sells a product called “chair” that is so basic, it defies description and solves no need in particular.
No way is that gonna sell!
The same holds true for your online, service-based business – it’s best to be as specific as possible when determining who you want to help and how. I feel so strongly about this, in fact, that I’m going to draw a line in the sand right now…
Carving out a niche of some kind for your business is ALWAYS going to be the right move. Tweet that!
I know this is a controversial thing to say, and there are probably plenty of successful non-specialist nutritionists, photographers, life coaches, etc. out there just itching to prove me wrong. (In fact, if you’re one of them, I’d love to hear from you in the comments so we can all learn from you! That’s a tough feat you’ve accomplished!)
Can solopreneurs who don’t choose a niche make money? Absolutely! But it’s WAY harder for them to do so because marketing an unspecific business to a general, super broad audience is an uphill battle they’d be better off not fighting in the first place.
If you know the squirmy, on-the-spot feeling of answering “So, what do you do?” question with “I’m a [insert vague job title here]”, you know how the non-niche business owner feels ALL THE TIME.
Being able to respond to that dreaded question with a confident, specific description of what you do instead of a loaded word that means nothing makes all the difference, and you can only do that if you choose a niche to work within.
Niche as Far as You Can… Then Go a Tad Further!
Niches are all about degrees of niche-ness. When I coach clients on this issue, I always have them choose the specific area they are certain they want to specialize in, and then I push them a tad further.
It’s great to know, for example, that you want to be a career coach. However, you’ll get a lot further in your business a lot faster if you know the age range, gender, stage of life, education level, industry, etc. of the people you want to work with (bonus points if you know how exactly you want to coach them).
If you think about it carefully, you may identify a passion for working with young women who are just finishing college and may not know what next steps they should take to reach their ultimate career goals.
And if you push yourself a little more, you may realize you might like to work with women who want to become future leaders. That’s the tad more – go with it! Just think how easy it would be to develop products and services around that niche, and how focused you can be in finding your audience.
That, my friend, is how niching makes business so much easier. And the more specific the niche, the better off you’ll be when it comes to marketing and selling. Tweet that!
Now, I would never push someone to niche beyond their comfort level. You can’t “fake” a niche you’re not ready for, so only niche down as far as your best guess will allow. (I like to shoot for 80% certainty since you can rarely be 100% sure, but do whatever you’re comfortable with.)
And don’t worry about getting stuck in a particular niche forever. This is a really common fear, but also a totally unnecessary one.
The truth is you have complete control of your online business, and that means you can tweak, broaden, retarget, or otherwise change your niche at any time. You can even switch businesses altogether – why the hell not? I’ve certainly changed my focus several times over the past six and half years, always after I’ve realized something wasn’t working and took my next best guess.
A niche is not a black hole, sucking you and your business in with no hope of escape. It’s more like the spaceship – a vehicle that allows you to explore other worlds at your will! Tweet that!
Can You Make This Strategy Work for Your Business?
Here it is. This is the strategy I use to coach my paying clients through the process of finding their niche:
- Start with what your best guess, pushing it as far as you are comfortable.
- Stick with it for a while, developing services and using practical marketing strategies to grow your business and get clients.
- Reassess whether you’re happy and finding success working within this niche.
- Evolve when and how you need to.
So what do you think? Can you apply this strategy to finding a niche for your business? Is there anything stopping you from making this work for you? Whether you’ve already found your perfect niche or are still trying to hone in on one, I’d love to hear from you!
I use a similar approach, by the way, to help participants in my three-month intensive coaching program Make It Work Online develop concrete, individual work plans for their online success.
(I’m taking early enrollments now for the January 2016 session with some never-ever-before bonuses like private coaching with me … hint hint, wink wink!)
Tell me in the comments…
What is your niche, and are you happy with it?
Can you take your niche any further?
If you are still working quite broadly, what is keeping you from choosing a niche?
How can I help you? Put your questions or concerns down in the comments, and I’ll answer them all personally!