This is something I hear asked quite often. Sara Dunn asked me how I did it after the first time she appeared on Live In The Feast in fact.
Sara has embarked on her journey to publicly share her journey on specializing her agency’s business. As you can see, everyone is trying to figure out the answer.
It’s important to put some context around this question. Your journey is your own. I can’t answer this question with a foolproof plan for you. This is something that you need to be able to go on yourself.
Your fears of niching down
I understand that it is scary because you may be feeling like it’s an all or nothing deal. What happens if you go all in and it doesn’t work. Then you are left sitting there wondering what happened and how can I recover from this.
There’s another fear here that is the real reason you may not want to jump in. You’ve built up a reputation in the market, have great clients and are getting referrals for new work. Losing all that hard work and effort you’ve already put in the business would be devastating.
Am I right?
You want to niche down because you fully understand the benefits to the business and becoming an expert. You get that once you learn who it is and what you are selling, everything else tends to become easier, you can command higher rates, and get back some of your time to explore other things.
Maybe the biggest reason I see most folks like yourself looking to niche down is that of sales and marketing. Once you specialize, sales and marketing become so much easier and that’s what you want to get better at.
Your niching down strategy
You are working with existing clients and may even have leads with proposals in hand. There’s no way you are going to drop them, so let that go right away. You have to finish up what you said you would.
If you are working on specializing your business, you aren’t going to flip the business around overnight.
Bottom line is that this is a transition. This transition needs to be as simple as possible. No reason to overbuild, overcomplicate, and put a ton of time into something if it doesn’t work out, right?
Niching Down is Marketing
No doubt you’ve either seen, heard or read from people who say to use FB ads, point to a video or post, build a lead magnet, create emails to market to those people and then give them something to buy.
This is known as a marketing funnel. Yes, you’ve heard me say these sorts of things too. But when breaking in, this is the worst thing you can do.
You suck at marketing. Ok, maybe that’s a bit harsh. Maybe it’s more that you want to be better at it.
To be better at marketing, you need to understand who will buy. See this vicious cycle here?
How is going out and trying to market to someone who you’ve never marketed to in the first place going to end up?
Probably be a waste of money to be perfectly honest with you.
I’ve even seen some gurus talking about adding niches to your existing generalist services like it’s a simple process.
And while this makes sense to me, right now all you want to do is to break into one niche, not many, right?
My experience of niching down is that it is marketing. Positioning your business is about selling a particular part of your business to the customer that needs it.
Look at your specialty like it’s another revenue channel into your business. Car makers don’t just have one type of car they sell right? SUVs are targeted more to families, and sport cars are targeted to individuals. Yet, Chevrolet sells both of them.
Have conversations and learn as much as you can, just like any other marketing research campaign. Then on the back-end of that, decide if the niche is viable.
And before I wrap this up, I want to mention something important. Just because you specialize, doesn’t mean that you can’t do other things.
You run your own business, you can do what you want, work with who you want. If you enjoy some of the generalist projects, continue doing them. No one is saying not to.
In order to build a sustainable freelance business and avoid the feast or famine cycle, niching down will allow you to break through that glass ceiling of your rate. It will also allow you to gain more time freedom as well.
Before the next episode where you will learn the 3-step process to break into your niche, I’ll leave you with this.
Looking to niche because you need help with your marketing is smart.
Looking to niche because you want to stand out is smart.
Looking to niche because you want a more predictable revenue stream and profits is smart.
Don’t think that the answer to breaking into a niche is is by doubling down on your problems in the first place.
Go back to your roots. Go back to when you first started your business. How did you get work then?
Learn as much as you can through conversations with the market you want to get into. Then you’ll be breaking into your new market in no time.
Specialize and Find your niche
More episodes in this topic:
What's the best way to pivot if you are serving a new niche?
How did you specialize your business?
Why should I niche or specialize?
How do I choose the niche?
How to say “no”?
How do I find out if the niche has value?
How to do research and land that first client?
How to you manage your existing clients when you start specializing?
Should I niche down to a specific industry in my local area?
Is my niche too narrow?
Aren’t I leaving money on the table?
What sort of freelance work is available for an individual web developer?
How to start out as a freelance translator?
What do I need to do to ramp up my freelance business after having been in the game for a few years?
How do I go from one-off projects to retainers for all future projects? And is it a good idea?
Can I do web, software development and digital marketing as a freelancer at the same time?
When niching down, should I target the type of work or the type of customer?
How to get over the fear of niching down?
How to stay being a generalist but test the waters to specialize your business?
What is a Niche?
How do you go about breaking into a niche (Part 1)?
How do you go about breaking into a niche (Part 2)?
Best of Season 3 - Get out of the comfort zone
Best of Season 3 - Building Relationships
S06 E12 - Undercharging, Targeting the Wrong Audience, and What You Should Do About It with Alex McClafferty
S03 Bonus - Tom McFarlin on Blogging, Balancing Work and Family, and Building a Business that Lasts
S09 E11 - Differentiation, Reputation, and Pivoting From the Top-Down with Peep Laja
S01 E11 - Kai Davis helping freelancers get more clients with outreach