As seen on FanDate October 23rd.
When you are choosing a niche it can be tough to decide what you want it to be. So many of us are good at so many different things and if you don't like the things you are already good at, then you can always reinvent yourself. If you fall into the latter category then you and I are very similar. It can be very scary to start over and pave a new path. I am a nurse and my background is in healthcare. I have never studied business in college and I do not have an MBA, but what I do have is experience. I have been standing right where you are now wondering which way to go. Unfortunately, I can't tell you the answer to that but I can give you some tools that have helped me get to this point.
Here are my top 3 tips for narrowing your niche down into something that is meaningful:
1. It is not about you.
When I use the word "meaningful", I am mostly referring to making your niche meaningful to other people. Of course it is meaningful to you, but you are not the one buying it from yourself. I have worked with a couple of startups on branding their products and when I ask them who their target client is they start to tell me about the reason they came up with the idea. They were frustrated about the way things were and they wanted to change it, for themselves. They thought since they had this problem that other people had this problem too! Now they might have been right about other people having the same problem, but the way they were marketing it was personal and only showcased their unique, very specific, problem. So how do you broaden your idea to reach enough people without being too generalized? It is a fine balance. You need to start by doing your homework - market research. Your research is going to include your target client (if you don't know who this is then stop right here and figure it out first) and the other people in your field who are trying to solve the same problem. A great place to find your target client is on social media, people love to share their opinions.
- Search for hashtags that are related to your product (hashtags are most commonly used on Instagram).
- Search for groups of people who are in the industry that you are targeting and get into those groups (usually on Facebook). Once you are in the group, scroll through the posts and see what people are talking about. If nobody is talking about the specific problem that you are trying to solve then post something about it. When you're trying to write your post, remember that people do not like to be sold to and a lot of groups will kick you out if it looks like you are spamming people. So, look at the posts that have the most "likes" or comments on them and see how they were written. Are the posts asking a question? Are they sharing their own personal opinion? Is it a funny meme about a problem that a lot of people can relate to? Then curate your post to mirror that so you get a conversation going and can gain more insight into what the market is looking for.
- Search for blog posts about the topic. Buzzsumo.com lists the top 10 blogs or the top 10 posts in those blogs based on keywords that you enter into their search engine. Medium.com is a place for people to share their ideas and they divide the blogs into searchable categories. On any blog site you want to be looking for 2 things:
- What are people writing about and how does it relate to your product
- What kinds of things are readers commenting about below the blog post.
Now let's talk about the other people in your field who are trying to solve the same problem. You can also find them through all of the avenues listed above. In addition to those, you can search the Internet for businesses that are related to yours and look at the services they are offering. This is important for 2 reasons. First, you do not want to waste your time reinventing the wheel. You want to know what is working for other people in your industry. Second, you want to figure out how you are going to stand out to your target client when they line up all of these companies who are doing the same thing.
2. You already know a lot.
If you haven't come up with your product or service yet, that's okay! There are so many possibilities!! Think about what you already know, write it down if it is more helpful for you to see it tangibly. What did you study in school? What courses or conferences have you gone to? What skills do you have? What is something that you are really good at that other people could benefit from knowing? What jobs have you held and what are some of the skills you learned while working for those companies? Once you have your list, go back to #1 (above) and search for which industry or skill is going to help solve a problem for the most people.
3. Be a student.
If you don't like anything on your list in #2, then make a new list! What are the skills or industries that interest you? Write those down and then figure out which ones you can learn quickly. Find a book, a weekend course, or free content online where you can learn more in a set time frame. You want to keep your momentum going so deciding to go back to school and get a degree in this field right now probably isn't going to help you start your company anytime soon. There are a lot of resources available to you to help you get started now or within a month or two and you can always go get a degree later if you think you need it to be considered an expert in your field. Some of my favorite free resource are:
- TED Talks
- HubSpot Academy
- University of the People
- Constant Contact's Social Media Quickstarter
- Alison - free certified learning
What if you don't have time to learn something new? Make time! I have a 35 minutes commute each way 5 days a week and so I use that time to listen to audiobooks and video trainings. That's almost 6 hours a week of learning. Most audiobooks are between 2 and 3 hours each so I can "read" 3 books a week. One mistake I made when I first started doing this was finding books that were too similar that were teaching the same things, so be sure to diversify the content you're learning so that you aren't wasting your time. You can find links to my favorite books here . Some of my favorite apps are Get Abstract and Audible. If you want to incorporate more audio trainings into your commute then I also suggest finding relevant Podcasts, Periscope channels and YouTube channels.