April 24, 2019
The following is a guest post by Valerie Robinson, a writer and photographer based in the DC/MD/VA area. If you’d like to contribute to the House of 334 blog and share your expertise, shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Before even beginning, or possibly while knee-deep within your entrepreneurial journey, you may have been directed towards a niche. What are niches, you ask? In short, a niche is a small specialty under a larger industry umbrella. For example, a blogger may wish to narrow her focus solely on parenting. Or a photographer may want to ditch being an indulger of all and master of none, by honing in on wedding photography only. But as with many paths, finding your niche may take months, or even years once you’re in the thick of running your business. However, choosing to niche down and commit to an area in which you have expertise and truly enjoy, can prove highly beneficial.
Here are some reasons why adopting a niche may be the boost that your business needs:
Niches set you apart, and actually make it easier for clients to find you. While there are generally many other entrepreneurs within any given industry, there will also be a variety of specialities and expertise within them. Specificity adds value, and focused clients seek out the best of the best based on their particular needs. For instance, a bride to be is almost guaranteed to look for wedding photographers as opposed to others whose portfolios consist of a variety of categories.
Have you ever gone to a networking event and found it difficult to get your elevator pitch off the ground? Although imposter syndrome may be a factor, there’s also a chance that you are dabbling in too many things at once. If what you do is too difficult to explain within 30 seconds, it’s probably time to become more clear and concise on your purpose.
Consider a very crafty Etsy shop owner who has the ability to make a wide variety of items like kids clothes, dog collars, handbags, men’s wallets and customized tumblers. How would she wrap all that up into one sentence that would make clients want to visit her shop? Great question. Instead, she could choose to niche down and sell only customized tumblers. And knowing that there are a sea of Etsy sellers who offer custom tumblers, she could niche down even further and offer only custom metallic tumblers. Now when she’s networking and talking to potential clients, she can confidently say “I sell customized metallic tumblers” and people will know exactly what she provides.
Niching down gives you credibility, as well as increases your online influence and visibility to potential customers in need of your exact products or services.
Imagine you’re planning a beach getaway with your girls. And because you’re a sensible woman who’s keen on protecting her skin from the harsh sun, and also ramping up for a selfie-fest…you want to find an Instagram worthy sun hat. Now, let’s also add another twist to this scenario. Your head happens to be above average in size. (Just go with it. We promise this is going somewhere!) With all that taken into consideration, are you going to you go to Google and type the word “hats” as your search term? No. You’re going to type in something like “stylish women’s sun hats for big heads” because you know exactly what you’re looking for and you want to find a company that specializes in making that very thing that you need.
Now apply that to your business! Niching down will allow you to rank higher in search results, as opposed to a company with more broad or generic offerings. Remember, specificity goes a long way!
Once you’ve gotten your niche down, you can become more strategic about aspects like your target market, service location, price points and how you intend to get your products and services rolled out more effectively to help you scale. It’s never too late and always worth revisiting exactly what you bring to the table, and how to really elevate your brand. Does your business have impeccable customer service, a one-of-a-kind community, uniquely tailored events, a visually appealing online presence, and top notch products? Identifying your niche will also provide you a unique opportunity to strategically maximize the customer experience as it relates to your business.
For example, an event planner in Riverside, CA may decide to focus solely on children’s sleepover teepee parties (yes, this is a thing), instead of planning weddings, birthday parties, retirement celebrations, corporate events, etc. This puts her in a unique position to become the go-to expert in this niche which likely doesn’t have a ton of competition, especially since this is a service that needs to be provided locally. She can now focus her efforts on being the best darn sleepover teepee party planner in Riverside by offering unique services specific to that niche, and not having to worry about how to plan so many different types of events.
Too often, we as entrepreneurs have a tendency to remove limits and take the more broad approach to serve as many people as possible. With that comes the risk of creative burnout, as well as losing the interest of your target audience because there isn’t enough clarity in your message and your offering. How can you correct this? By niching down, asking yourself the most important question and leaving no confusion as to what value you provide. Sure, it may appear that others are succeeding at doing #allthethings (whatever they are), but remain steadfast and confident in your knowledge and expertise in order to grow in your specific purpose, with your ideal client, in your newfound niche.
Valerie Robinson is a writer and photographer who has recently ventured into filmmaking for documenting families and small branding projects. She is also the proud Founder and CEO of Unapologetically Us, LLC , which has blossomed into a lifestyle, wellness and cultural community for Black women moving within a complicated world. Follow her on Instagram @unapologeticval or check out her blog and podcast for topics ranging from photography to entrepreneurship.