“I’m not sure if I’ve picked my target niche correctly. How do I set it right for my blog to become productive?” From the sound of this question, it appears to be a problem of a blogging business that has taken off for a bit on the wrong niche – and now suddenly is discovering that the chosen niche was all wrong, and the blog is not growing or returning results! Am I right?
Most bloggers will agree that the time to worry about picking a niche is BEFORE you begin the blog and not after. But there are times where bloggers feel trapped by their niches and wish they could make a switch. Let’s see what can be done if you are stuck with a niche that needs changing after you’ve invested quite a bit on the wrong one, shall we?
The thing to do if you are in the right “professional space” but have a wrong “niche”!
First count yourself lucky that you are at least close to your specialization territory and within your comfort space, even if you haven’t found a niche that’s profitable or sustainable for you within it. To get the right niche in your space, you have to do a simple exercise. Cut your target audience down to one man first. Find that one single person you can study as a specimen. Then suddenly, when you hit on the raw nerve of that one person, you’ll find yourself with hordes of people with the exact same pain.
Example? An executive-turned-blogger had spent over 30 years in the shoe manufacturing business. He knew his blog could be – or should be – about shoes, but what about a competition-beating niche within the shoe space? At random, he decided to make his sister-in-law the subject of acute observation. As he looked at her feet he realized she had inordinately small feet compared to her body size. She was being forced to shop among children’s sizes. A great niche was thus born: adults with child-shoe sizes. Market studies then showed enough of such a population in the US alone to make his “petite pumps” blog a sellout!
The moral of the story? Tight niches are easier to find if you take just one audience member under a microscope, look for pain points, and then look outward for a whole battalion of others with the same pain-point!
The thing to do if you are in the wrong “professional space” altogether and need a ground-up revamp!
Let’s say you’re a great electrical engineer, and know your subject inside-out, and forwards and backwards. But your heart’s not in it any more. Or there are boring people to deal with in that industry – and God knows, you’ve had enough of them, and would like to change your milieu to be among more exciting people. Now this kind of shift is a major change. You first need to convince yourself that you can definitely try out a new niche, but it costs money – and you have to give yourself time to check out the new niche for “psychological and emotional fit”. Mere profitability of a new niche is not what you should gun for, because it has to be a niche you can sustain and grow, and you can only patiently grow something if you have an alignment with it at your inner level.
My advice to someone like you would be simple. Bite the bullet and begin afresh … but don’t be too fast to trash the old niche. Keep some strings intact with the previous wrong choice you made – as an insurance.>
I’ll give you my own story as an example. I grew via great professional strides in the field of advertising, multimedia, web technologies and digital marketing – but somewhere inside me was a streak of spirituality (in which too I was extremely well-read and a practitioner of many meditative practices over years!). This spiritual part of me, though, always beckoned strongly, but felt like a retirement project.
The thing is that my marketing consultancy business grew and grew – and the retirement never came. I yearned often to express myself via a spiritual blog, and even occasionally had “niche-related-panic-attacks”. Should I start another website on spirituality and change tack? Should I start a new niche parallel to my current niche and phase the current one out slowly?
Eventually, I chose to start a third niche that’s all about me and my experiments with life – into which both aspects of me (my old and new niches) dovetailed. Moral of the story: You should change directions slowly and gracefully, and give yourself the time to live with the new idea before you throw over the “wrong one”. For a while, you may have to balance your budget over both niches. But your old niche could repay you if you part-sold it to someone better suited than you to run with it! So try and make the transition gradual. Also starting in a new niche needn’t be a painful break from the past. Be creative!
3 angles from which you can approach the question of niche-fine-tuning, once you’ve decided on a new niche!
Method #1: See what you’re good at and find the niche that best sets you apart!
If you are one of the truly experienced hands in your domain or professional space, you needn’t look too far to know your niche. The trick, though, is finding an intersect between what you are good at versus the aspect of your greatness that is in high demand. For example, let’s say you are a great eco-scientist. But people don’t want the breadth of your knowledge. On the other hand, there’s huge demand among architects for eco-related knowledge that they have to spew to their clients whom they make buildings for. They need an expert to tell them what to tell their clients about eco-conservation in architecture. That’s where you could find your market, your audiences and your profits!
Method #2: See what is a popular demand area and see if you can become an expert in that field!
This method is the direct opposite of the method above. Let’s say you are a Jack-Of-All-Trades-But-Master-Of-None. But there’s one thing you sure have, and that’s “the intelligence to absorb ideas at speed”. Your ideal approach to getting hold of a profitable niche idea would be to first do the keyword research on your target audience; then see what are their most trendy and popular concepts, problems and notions; and finally get yourself off to Amazon for an undisturbed afternoon (or two or three).
Browse through every book you can find on the topic of audience interest you selected, and buy three of the most comprehensive and latest books on the subject for detailed reference. Then go through the Table of Contents and Opening Chapters of all the other books on the topic with Amazon (for free), making sure to familiarize yourself with the “terminology and topic labyrinths” of the subject. Every topic has top-tier concepts, second-tier concepts, third-tier concepts and so on. Get to know how the topic’s overall body of knowledge is segmented by other experts. Within three days, I guarantee you will know more than most other experts. You see, the niche expert is not the one who is an encyclopedia himself, but the one who knows which encyclopedia to look up for what he may need!
Method #3: Can’t find a way with both ideas above? Make your own story your exclusive niche!
It’s surprising how many starter-bloggers hunt everywhere outside themselves for a niche idea – and months later find someone who finds their own story so compelling, that the idea dawns on them that people may want to see them expounding their own fairy-tales – or less-than-fairy-tales – as “unique niches”. Many bloggers have, for instance, very successfully adopted the approach of being “experts-in-progress” – rather than pretending to be an “already-accomplished authority”. They share their travails and learnings with a ring of humility and authenticity.
There is an empathy readers feel with anyone who shares his story of failure and success – and more than empathy, the reader also gets to vicariously piggy-back on such a “experimentalist expert”, because the expert is acquiring the hard-won experience on the reader’s behalf, and teaching the reader how to shorten the learning curve by just adopting what the expert has found to work best!
3 opinions on niche-finding that will make you think out of the box!
While we’re looking at ways to find niches (or change niches), you have to remember that there are some opinions that advocate against the standard niche-finding approaches – and they’re worth thinking about too. These are not just new opinions, they’re as good as a new pair of eyes on the topic at hand. Check these out!
From Jeff Goins in his article “Why Finding Your Niche Is Just Plain Bad Advice”:
Finding a niche for your potential business is just plain bad advice. Here’s why: people change, as do the niches they belong to. In other words, if your business aspires to reach young, single moms looking to make a part-time living online, what happens when their kids grow up? Your market disappears. But what if, instead, you didn’t do that? What if you attempted to reach a core audience but that was a little more flexible than a demographic group?
From Pat Flynn in his article “What to Do When “All of the Good Ideas are Already Taken” – Tips to Help You Pick a Niche”:
Forget “Brand-New.” Think “Better-New.” In order to succeed online, you cannot do what everyone else is doing. Follow the crowd, and get lost in it. You know this. Unfortunately, many people interpret this (nice-finding) to mean that they have to create something totally brand-spanking new, something completely innovative that has never been done before, in order to succeed. This creates a tall mountain to climb because: it’s difficult to think of something totally brand-spanking new; and even if you do, you are playing in unknown territory. The more intelligent approach is to forget about starting fresh, and start with something that’s already working, and make it better.
From David Zax in his article “Finding A Lucrative Niche-Within-A-Niche In The Internet Economy”:
Welcome to the new age of hyper-specific startups.
You have doubtless noticed the proliferation of those “box-of-the-month” clubs. They started innocently enough, with fruit. Then, as the model took off, they proliferated into all sorts of categories: wine, clothes, luxury products. They became so ubiquitous as to merit their own BuzzFeed listicle—twice. The subscription box service metastasized.
What Ryan Pfleger began to realize, though, was that these services had become so widespread that they needed an infrastructure of their own. Now, Pfleger has just launched PayWhirl, a startup solely dedicated to helping people with minimal tech savvy to rapidly set up subscription billing plans. And in the process, he’s illustrating a principle of the new, new web: Opportunity is to be found in niches–or even, sometimes, niches-within-niches.
In the end, this is what matters!
You can always change a poor niche, midway through your growth, if you have creativity. Keep the old niche just for insurance – or to sell off to someone else. Give yourself time to get used to the new niche without making a niche-mistake again. Yes, you must be seen as an authority in your niche, but you needn’t be an “already-authority” … you can be a sharing-oriented “expert-in-progress”. And one more thing. To find a good tight niche fast, catch hold of just one person and eyeball him for a whole day. Discover where he hurts most, and then suddenly you’ll find thousands with same hurt in this wide, wide world.
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