Regardless of whether you pronounce it neesh or nitch, one thing is certain; the riches are in the niches. (Actually, that only sounds right if you pronounce it nitch.)
In this article, I’ll guide you through the process of finding your niche as an online business owner. This will be most helpful for expert-based businesses, such as course creators, digital marketers, coaches, freelancers, virtual service providers, and bloggers. You have a specific area of knowledge and expertise that can serve a particular market.
What is a Niche?
A niche is a specific target buyer group for your products or services. Your niche has particular needs, desires, and pain points that your product solves. Serving a niche market allows you to focus your offerings and develop a deeper level of expertise than serving a broad market.
Benefits of Determining Your Marketing Niche
Niche marketing is providing a service that fulfills the unmet needs of a specific group of buyers. You may think that narrowing your target audience will limit your ability to market your business and reduce your earning potential. The opposite is actually more likely.
Having constraints gives you the freedom to explore the best way to serve your specific market instead of stretching your creativity and resources too thin trying to help everyone. When you determine your target buyers and learn to serve them very well, you become an authority in your niche. Being a big fish in a small pond is much more lucrative than being a small fish in a big pond.
How to Find Your Potential Niche
If you’ve just started a business, you may be wondering how to find your niche. If you are already in business, you may be wondering how to narrow down your niche so that you can focus your energy on serving a specific audience better. First, you’ll want to determine the broad market you serve, then the submarket, and then the niche. Use this framework to determine your target market:
Market > Submarket > Niche
First, define your broader market. Into what category of products or services does your niche idea fall? In what general industry is your target audience?
Some examples of expert-based businesses are:
Next, determine the submarket that your business falls into. Here’s where you need to ask yourself questions about how you’re going to serve your market, such as:
- What skills do I have that fill a need in my market?
- In what competencies am I educated, or have done specialized training?
- What am I passionate about?
- What skills did I need when I first started, and did I need training in them?
- What do you work on in your free time? Is there a hobby you can turn into a business?
Finally, figure out the type of person you want to serve. Who is your target customer? Ask yourself:
- Who needs the expertise I offer?
- Who can I serve that is different from my competitors? Is there a segment of who my competitors target that is underserved?
- Who actively seeks out the services I offer?
- Who is asking the questions that relate to my service or product?
- What subcultures or groups am I a part of in business and socially?
Now comes the fun part, combine the submarket and the person you want to serve to brainstorm possible niches. Here are some examples:
Wealth > Digital Marketing > Marketing Agency Owners = Virtual Assistant with HubSpot certifications who provides digital marketing services to HubSpot agency owners that are overwhelmed with client work and need to outsource marketing tasks
Health > Nutrition > Children of Parents who are Aging in Place = Health Coach with a nutrition degree who teaches courses and provides support to people whose elderly parents are aging in place and want to learn about their parents’ nutritional needs
Relationships > Parenting > Parents of Special Needs Children = Social Worker with education and expertise in working with special needs children who writes books and teaches courses on how to advocate for children and navigate the services available in the state of Texas
Once you’ve found a profitable niche or two that speak to your passions, interests, and expertise, go deeper and determine whether or not they are feasible. Some questions you’ll ask yourself at this stage are:
- Can I begin building a business in this niche quickly?
- What additional skills or training will I need? How much time and money will I need to invest?
- Do I have any advantages that I can leverage in this niche (connections, certifications, reputation in the industry)?
- Can I brainstorm a long list of blog articles that will serve this niche?
- What digital products or courses can I create to serve this niche?
- Who is currently serving this niche? How am I different?
- Are there products or services on the market to serve this submarket?
If there are others already serving a submarket, that’s a good indication that it is profitable and there is an opportunity to differentiate yourself by serving a group within that submarket. Next, do some preliminary Google keyword research to determine whether or not there is enough search volume in your niche and that there are people looking for the solutions you offer.
Serving Your Niche
Positioning yourself as serving the needs of a specific niche allows you to market yourself as an expert. You’ll be able to use messaging that speaks directly to their pain points and offers solutions to their unique problems. Rather than trying to serve everyone, you’ll be able to develop a core set of competencies and offer products and services around them. Look at it from the perspective of someone purchasing your services. Who would you rather buy copywriting services from for your health coach business – a copywriter who writes specifically for health coaches or a writer who has written articles about health-related topics?
Once you find your niche, brainstorm ways you can best serve them. Begin by developing a buyer persona and getting to know your target audience’s needs, pain points, experiences with the service you offer, your competition, and the outlets from which they consume information on a daily basis. Map out their decision-making process during the awareness, consideration and decision stages of their buyer’s journey. This will help you create messaging that will resonate with them at each stage.
It’s helpful to put yourself in the shoes of your ideal buyer. Empathizing with them allows you to understand their needs on a deeper level and create solutions that serve them best. Consider these questions:
- What needs did I have when I was in their position?
- What resource or skill do I wish I had when I was starting out?
- What frustrates me on a daily basis?
- Where did I go to look for information to solve my problem?
- What questions was I asking when I was trying to make a decision?
- What really irritated me about the solutions that were available?
Attracting Your Niche
So, you’ve found your niche. Now you need to help your niche find you. While doing your buyer persona research, you will determine the online channels where your target audience consumes information. Use the audience insights on each channel to determine the content that will serve your audience best. If you are using Facebook, their Audience Insights tool will help you tap into your audience’s preferences to reach them on the platform. Within the Flow wrote a guide to using Facebook Audience Insights and the Facebook Ad Manager to research your audience’s preferences and create content that will resonate with them before spending money on ads.
For some niches, social media may not be the best platform on which to reach them. Think about trade shows, conferences, professional associations, and trade publications that serve your niche. You may have more success with these targeted networking and advertising opportunities.
Invest time and effort in content marketing and SEO. Create content that is helpful to your target buyers; content that answers their questions and adds value to their experience with you online. Publish content that aligns with their preferences and attracts them to you and helps them see you as a trusted authority in your niche. Make sure that your content is optimized for search engines so that your audience can find you in search, whether it’s organic search, search engine ads, or visual search engines and social networks like Pinterest and Instagram.
In addition to knowing your audience and creating content that serves them, it’s important to make sure your branding attracts your niche. Spend time defining your brand and creating brand assets that will appeal to your target audience. Does your brand represent your niche and does it send a powerful message that will set you apart from others in your niche? If not, it may be time for rebranding.
There may come a time when you realize you want to expand beyond your niche or change niches altogether. If you have a blog, you may wonder how to shift the direction of your blog. When that time comes, just begin your research and go through all of the above steps again.
Take the time to find the niche that deeply resonates with you. Develop products and services that play to your strengths and expertise rather than trying to serve everyone. It will keep you motivated to serve them and passionate about helping them achieve their goals.