Why Your Business Needs A Niche To Thrive
This morning, I read an email from one of my newsletter subscribers telling me about her business. And this email reminded me of an interesting conundrum that almost every freelancer will wrestle at an early stage in their business. And something that I personally have struggled with for some time - how to knuckle down within your niche.
It’s a common conundrum for writers as few of us have the luxury of working on a single job to make a living. We usually have multiple projects with different business clients while pitching feature stories to publications on the side. Maybe we're working on a first novel, drafting website copy, blogging, writing an e-book, and probably studying as well.
The life of a full time writer.
We probably only spend a fraction of time on the stuff we most enjoy. For me, that is probably writing magazine features. There's nothing quite like seeing your name and story in a glossy print publication, and saying "I wrote that."
But feature writing is also an insanely competitive field with irregular and often substandard pay. Writers are frequently exploited and expected to write for free or "for exposure". It's very difficult to make a full time income from feature writing alone.
The whole exposure concept is real joke among freelancers. Check out this video from comic Gemma Arrowsmith, it's too funny.
I'm getting off the point (or out of the niche, haha). So, if you have multiple income streams, how does that affect your marketing? Which stream do you choose as your number #1 focus. Do you market yourself as a freelance feature writer in X or a business copywriter in Y?
Maybe you're wondering why you need to choose a niche.
I'll give you 2 reasons.
The first is that it's infinitely easy to market yourself if you have a clear understanding of what you do.
The second is Google. The SEO god likes to know exactly what your business does and how you’re special to your audience.
RELATED POST: How To: Get Your Website Noticed By Google
I'm going to tell you my story and how I chose my business niche. When I first moved to Laos 2 years ago my plan was to write a food blog and earn extra income with travel writing, copywriting and a bit of web design.
Instead... the web design and digital business side took off while the travel writing stagnated. My food blog did great too but didn’t bring any money in. And the copywriting had highs and lows.
I found myself torn between a growing demand for web design and digital services, and my real passion for writing.
The problem with offering too many things is that you can’t commit yourself completely to your niche. And your business suffers for it.
I sometimes think how easy it would be to say “I am a freelance food writer” and plug the hell out of that. To invest myself completely in my chosen field that no one questions it.
The stronger your niche, the more you can hone in on your ideal client. Your message is clear and so is your marketing. Your audience has no doubt about what you do. The SEO gods love your website because it’s so articulate. And you can differentiate your business in a saturated market.
Sounds good, doesn't it?
Are you in this situation? Are you trying to change your career or your niche because it’s well overdue? Or like me, do you enjoy all the elements of what you do and can’t, or don’t want to, choose between them?
I’m afraid you’re in for some tough love. As I was.
If you want a viable business that brings in regular customers and income, you need to choose. Choose the strongest element of your skills set and make that your niche.
If your true passion isn’t making money, then put it on the back-burner for now. You don’t have to give it up completely, just don’t give it as much priority as your money-making element.
As much as I love the idea of choosing freelance food writing as my niche, I know I can’t make a living from it here and now. I’ve tried.
So, I’m focusing on web design and digital services as my #1 niche. Business copywriting is my secondary service. I still write the occasional travel article and I have my food blog but those two things I do for love, not money.
So, if you're wrestling with your business niche too, here’s what I want you to do...
- Write out your business spiel (also known as your elevator pitch) and hone in on your niche as much as possible. State it loud and proud
- Create separate pages on your website for your different services. Then people (and Google) can see the distinction between your services
- Divide your blog into categories based on your business offerings
- Offer separate packages on your website
- Remember who your Big Cheese is and market to that audience. The rest is secondary.
Tell me, are you struggling to find your business niche?
About the author: Lilani Goonesena is an Australian freelance writer, SEO copywriter and Squarespace web designer based in Vientiane, Laos. She loves boosting freelancers and small businesses with web design, SEO content and digital marketing strategy. She writes an awesome weekly newsletter on digital marketing, social media, blogging, web design and "all that online stuff". Lilani also blogs at the delectable Eat Drink Laos, just for fun.