Business Talk: Does my solo business need a niche?
It's time for some real talk. I've been having a tough time of it lately when it comes to my business. I mean, sure, I know I'm doing what I want to be doing and that my decision to quit my job wasn't the wrong one. But I'm struggling with one area in particular, whether or not my solo business needs a niche.
Let me take you right back to the beginning.
When I launched Chameleon Creative Content, all I knew was that I wanted to write, and I wanted to do it on my own terms. I didn't know anything about running a business and I hadn't yet been privy to the wonderful world of online solo business advice.
I didn't have a niche, except perhaps small businesses in Yorkshire. All I knew was that I wanted to help businesses, who didn't have big agency budgets, build connections with their ideal clients.
Fast forward six months and I'm in a fortunate position. I've got clients on my books and make enough money not to have to go back to the 9-5 grind. But most of my work has come from relationships I'd built before I started flying solo and now it's time to grow.
The question is... how?
Every piece of advice I've read online tells me I absolutely need to niche down in order to be successful. It's not enough to just be a copywriter for small businesses, I need to be a blog copywriter for small weight loss businesses aimed at bargain-lovers or a social media strategist for IT firms specialising in app development. I can't do it all, apparently.
To put it frankly, this advice has sort of paralysed any enthusiasm I've had for propelling my business forward and that needs to change.
As I was struggling to wrap my head around what I really wanted the future of Chameleon Creative Content to look like, I decided I'd try and make sense of it the only way I know how; to write about it. So that's what I'm going to do. Because of that, this post will be quite specific to my business, but I hope it also helps those of you who are struggling to get over the 'finding my niche' hurdle!
THE CONS OF HAVING A NICHE
It alienates people
This has probably been my biggest sticking point. I get to a point where I think 'yep, I've got it, I'm going to conquer the world' and a voice pops up saying: 'but it would also be great to work with a fitness company' or 'but can I use the charity I'm working with as a testimonial if it doesn't suit that niche?' And I come crashing back down to earth again. I also work with clients in a number of niches right now and I don't want them to pop back to my website and think 'oh she doesn't want to serve me anymore.'
I don't have enough knowledge
Most 'finding your niche advice' tells you to focus on your passions and experience in order to drill down into your focus area. For me, my passion is writing and my expertise is writing so then I get a little bit lost. I don't really think I'm all that good at anything else. Sure I have experience in a number of niches but the reason I quit my job was that I didn't want to write about car finance forever. To me, there's no point niching down into an area that you were desperate to get out of in the first place.
What if it fails?
What if I spend time painstakingly planning the next six months of business based on a niche that isn't viable? How do I know this will work? Sure, it can be changed again, but that would feel a little bit like ripping my own heart out if you ask me. I know there are ways to test the water before pressing go so maybe that's a good place to start.
It's a hell of a lot of effort
Choosing a new business direction means changing a lot of things: website copy, blog posts, outreach tactics, networking groups, your marketing strategy and potentially even your branding. When you've put a lot of time (and effort) into your business brand, doing it all again can feel a little more than overwhelming. You need to be really really super sure of your niche before you start tinkering with logos, changing the entirety of your website copy and redefining your social media strategy.
THE PROS OF HAVING A NICHE
It makes writing blog content easier
To say I'm a writer, I've really struggled to feel motivated to blog. But when I think about the possible areas I could niche down into, I start getting all excited about the prospect of blogging again. Like seriously, the ideas jump onto the page. I think having a super clear and streamlined audience does make it so much easier to write content as you're not getting overwhelmed by trying to create a 'something for everyone' space on the internet.
It gives your guest posting strategy some structure
Guest posting is another area that I've been keen to get on top of. I've been hesitant to do any guest posting because, well, I don't know how or where to position my services. Having a niche would make it easier to identify good targets for guest posts and get my name out there as an expert.
Building up expertise = more ideal clients
I touched above on how to me, writing is my area of expertise and I can't exactly be a writer for writers. But there is an argument to say that targeting a certain niche will help me expand my knowledge quicker and easier. In turn, my ideal clients will start seeing me as the expert, even if I don't feel like one at first. Then, hopefully, I'll find more of those dreamy clients I want to work with coming my way.
It makes future planning much easier
When you have a clear purpose and niche for your business it gives it so much more structure. You can keep the question: 'does this serve my target audience?' at the forefront of your mind and if it doesn't, you know it's not something you need to be spending your time on.
So now I've got that out there and brain dumped the pro's and con's, I guess I best put a plan of action in place for overcoming this hump!
Having weighed up both sides of the argument, I do think niching down has more benefits. I just think I need to do a bit more research before I make a decision. There's one area that keeps popping up in my brain as 'the one' and I've actually recently secured my first client of its type so I think I'm going to roll with that for now.
While I've been writing this, I've been jotting down some action points to complete start getting serious about my niche. So here's what I'm going to do:
1. Talk to my new business coach about my thoughts and feelings on niching down.
2. Create a survey to send to businesses in my niche to find out if it's a profitable idea.
3. Outreach to local businesses in my area to ask them what their pain points are.
4. Write a new mission and vision for my business, targetted specifically to my maybe-niche
5. Brainstorm blog and lead magnet content that could serve this niche - I need to make sure I can write about it (not just for it) after all.
So that's it, a bit of a brain dump blog post but one that I hope is helpful all the same. One of the things I definitely want to do with my blog moving forward is to share more of my own experiences, and that's certainly what I've done with this post.