What is a niche?
My favorite definition: A niche market is a subset of a larger market defined by its unique needs, preferences, and identity. – Kitty Shark Creative
It’s the thing you do, in the way you do it, and for whom.
There’s also some confusion about how to say niche. Some people say it in a way that rhymes with rich, others like it rhymes with sheesh, both are correct. So however you say it, you’re good.
For example, in teaching, we’re all specialists. I teach music, that’s my specialization. Even though I’m certified to teach Pre-K through 12th grade, I teach middle school music. And to narrow that down even further, my passion is general music.
There are lots of ways to narrow down your niche, but let’s focus on the big 3:
- Services offered
- Clients demographics
- Geographic area
Services Offered. By choosing to focus on a specific set of services, you are narrowing your customer base and becoming known for a particular skill set. I was driving behind a tree removal company’s truck recently, and on the back of the truck it read, “Specializing in difficult removals.” Does that mean that this company can’t handle regular tree pruning and chopping? Not at all. But you can bet I took a picture of the truck to show my neighbor who’s been worried about the tree towering over his house.
Similarly, a virtual assistant could niche down in social media management, a bookkeeper could focus on payroll, or a dog trainer could narrow his business to security dogs only.
Client Demographics. Many products or services can be used by an overwhelming percentage of the population. By focusing on a group of people with a specific set of characteristics you become known in that particular population. I know several people in the health and wellness industry and none of them are competing for customers with each other. One serves CrossFit enthusiasts, another helps the elderly stay fit with chair workouts, and another works with stay at home moms who can’t get to the gym…
Other examples might include a seller of essential oils who focuses on Gen Z customers, a tennis coach who only teaches players who want to play in competition, or a business coach who only works with teachers.
Geographic Area. Not every business is limited by geography, but if yours is, it’s best to take note and use that “limitation” to benefit your business. Recently I noticed a bunch of for sale signs in a neighboring town from a real estate company I’d never heard of. It turns out that this agent had left a nation-wide real estate company to start his own that was entirely focused on ONE TOWN. Word spread like wildfire that if you want to sell in his town, he’s your man.
While you don’t have to niche down to a single town, if your business is done in person, defining a geographic area in which you work is not only helpful, it’s necessary. So furniture flippers, in-person tutors, notary publics, home organizers, etc. be clear about the locations you serve.
Realistically, you’re going to want to mix and match the characteristics you look for in order to achieve your perfect niche. Here are a few examples of businesses that use all three techniques for parsing out their niche.:
- Lawn and garden maintenance service for people with 3+ acres of land in Westchester County.
- Makeup and lash application for brides within 30 miles of St. Paul, MN.
- Electrician for commercial new builds in Phoenix, AZ
Whether you’re considering blogging as a side hustle or just aren’t sure how to get started, this free training is for you!
Why do you need to niche down?
“My product/ service can help anyone. Why would I limit who I market to?”
This is a common objection of those who are hesitant to niche down and focus on a specific way in which you can help a specific group of people. And it’s understandable. Choosing a niche feels counterintuitive at first.
But let’s think of it this way..
If you have a migraine, you’re not going to go to the medicine cabinet and look for the medicine that says it cures everything. You’re going to reach for the bottle that says, “Starts kicking your migrain to the curb in 10 minutes.” Why? Because you know that medicine is going to solve the exact problem you have right now.
Here’s another example:
I don’t use a travel agent to book travel just because I can. I use one because I am a worst-case scenario person. And when I imagine getting stuck at some airport in the middle of nowhere with my utterly exhausted child, ready-to-snap husband, and lost luggage, I want to be able to pick up the phone and have someone else make it better while I go to the gift shop for a KitKat.
Someone else will use a travel agent because they’re going to Disney for the first time in 25 years and it’s insanely intimidating to try to plan that trip yourself. Another wants to make sure they are swaddled in luxury every inch of the way, while another just wants the cheapest possible everything.
By defining your niche, you’re able to identify the kind of travel you want to specialize in, the people you want to work with, and how you work with them.
You’re also able to zero in on the language used in your niche, where your customers hang out, what their goals are, and what’s getting in their way. Then you can market, through free content or paid advertising, directly to your niche market.
Can you imagine trying to create content that connected with all those different types of travelers? Haggard Mom doesn’t want to hear about traveling in luxury while she’s got Cheerios stuck in her hair. Mr. Cheap doesn’t want to know about Disney – that’s too expensive – and you lost Luxury Lady with the word bargain.
Instead of trying to speak to everyone – and no one listens – a niche lets you speak to a smaller group of people who really want to hear what you have to say.
When people engage with your content you want them to think, “Has she been spying on me? This is exactly what I was looking for!”
That’s how you attract people who want what you’re offering.
When you’re clear on what you do and who you serve, you provide your audience the opportunity to self-select into or out of your world. You don’t have to chase them down or convince them to buy from you. AND there’s a lot less competition in a small, specific niche than there is in a big general one.
As a side hustler, you don’t have time to try to reach everyone, everywhere. Focus on a problem you can solve for a specific group of people who share common characteristics, challenges, and goals, and you’ll get a much better return on your investment (of time or money).
Ready to jump into your niche? Check out my brand new freebie, The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Topic for Your Blog, Podcast, or Video Show: Define your niche so you can confidently create content that will build your authority and attract your ideal customers!
Join me on Tuesday at 7:30 pm (EDT) in the Side Hustle Teachers Facebook Group for a LIVE recap, answers to your questions, and the 5 steps to take to determine your niche! A replay of the video will be posted below the Friday after the live. ↓↓↓