The idea of picking a niche has always been a bit difficult for me to figure out until lately.
If you’ve been around marketing for any time at all, you’ve likely heard picking a niche is one of the most important decisions you can make…and I agree. No matter what you’re marketing – a product, a life changing idea, a service – you have to pick a niche.
But how do you actually do that?
If you’re part of a nonprofit, make sure to read to the end for special advice about marketing a cause
All the videos I’ve watched and all the articles I’ve read never really helped.
As a matter of fact, I usually just made videos about products and companies rather than picking a niche…and I’ve made tens of thousands this year doing just that…and built a little bit of a YouTube following.
But it’s not sustainable for a number of reasons…
There all A TON of niches that people say will make you the most money.
They say because these niches are evergreen, they're the best. Evergreen just means that people have always and will always spend money in these niches.
The common wisdom is that you should pick one of these because that's where people buy products and service more often and for more money.
And these are proven facts. Just like it's a proven fact there are more products and services for you to promote in these 'evergreen' niches than in other niches.
But those niches are HUGE. So I tried to niche down…which is what got me into the company and product game I talked about before.
In the last couple months, though, I’ve discovered a new way to think about picking a niche that’s really freed me up and given me a new start.
Maybe all those videos and articles weren’t useless after all…maybe my brain just finally got it?
As Confucius says...or, at least that's who I heard it attributed to, “when the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” My experiences and brain just weren't ready to see it until now...
I’ll tell you what that shift in thinking was and how you can use it if you’d like as well in a bit. But first, let’s talk quickly about why picking a niche is important.
when the student is ready, the teacher will appear
We all know it is important, and EVERYONE tells you to do it, but why?
Why is it so important?
To me, it comes down to three things:
Let me give an example to illustrate the point…
Imagine you’re a digital marketing company…you run Facebook and Google ads for companies to get them more leads and clients.
Digital marketing is a MASSIVE niche.
You see all different kinds of service offerings from different companies…some companies focus on one type of marketing like search engine optimization or Facebook ads. Others focus strictly on lead generation or on building websites.
But the ones that are really successful (as in multi-million dollar annual billings) are those that specialize in a highly profitable niche and crush it.
Take Elite Legal Marketing for example...
They don’t do marketing for plumbers or restaurants or car dealers.
They only do digital marketing for lawyers.
And according to ZoomInfo, they rake in $9.5 million ever year.
Obviously, they’re good at what they do.
But it’s more than that…
By focusing only on attorneys, they've gotten to know the industry and the people that make it up. They’ve learned how to build rapport with people looking for legal help, how to build an effective website and advertising campaign and which metrics attorneys care about most when it comes to new client acquisition.
Plus…they’ve built a track record of performance and have built relationships with key players in the industry.
You think they could do that if they focused on five industries instead of just one?
Absolutely not…at least not without A LOT more complexity, personnel and cost.
Before I got into affiliate marketing, I ran a digital ad agency for about a year and this is one of the things that killed people in the mentoring group I was in…
They went after too many different niches because they needed the cash. They were trying to get quick sales.
And they all regretted it…
But I digress…
If you want to succeed on as small a budget as possible; with as little complexity as possible; and in as little time as possible, niching down is how you do that.
Niching down allows you to become an expert quickly (if you’re not already), showcase that expertise effectively because you can get found easier and allows you to become a big fish in a small pond instead of trying to being a small (or non-existent) fish in a large pond.
Ok, so now that we agree how important niching down is, let me tell you about that epiphany I mentioned earlier.
Let me tell you a quick story to lead in…
Earlier this year, things were going well…really well for me. I had a bunch of YouTube videos pulling in product sales for me almost every day.
March, April and May were record months for me…until the program I was promoting basically went belly up.
Their failure made me feel horrible because none of the people I introduced to the opportunity were having anywhere near the level of success I was and now they never would. I felt like I bamboozled them.
This led me to reconsider my business and how I was serving my audience.
I decided I wanted two things out of my business:
And hawking business opportunities or switching from the latest fad opportunity to the next every few months just wouldn’t do either of those things.
So I decided to take the knowledge I’ve gained over the last year on YouTube and the last 10 years in affiliate marketing and truly start helping people.
And I stumbled on my niche…
I help others change lives through deliberately, strategically using their social media platforms to maximize their income and amplify their impact.
How will I monetize this?
I can see opportunities for affiliate sales (I’ll explain how in a minute) as well as consulting, coaching, digital courses and even speaking at events. And I’m sure that as word gets out and I put case studies together, other opportunities will avail themselves.
That's the beauty of chasing your own thing instead of a quick buck or a hot trend...you don't know where it will end up, but success is about the pursuit, not the end goal.
So pursue something worthwhile. Change lives along with me!
If you’re just starting out or if you’re confused about how to figure out what niche you should be in, I’d recommend the following.
Take a self-inventory.
When answering the questions below questions, don’t worry about how you’ll make money yet..I’ll cover that in a bit.
Just answer with the first thing that comes to mind.
By answering those three questions, you should have a list of a few potential niches.
Now, let’s narrow them down a bit.
It’s ok if you don’t pick the right niche or angle within the niche the first time. Almost no one does! And – worst case – you can always switch later.
Don’t let the fear of choosing wrongly keep you from choosing at all!
Just to make this more real, here’s an example…
Let’s imagine you can talk about golf or dogs for hours and you believe that if you build a company around either of those things, you’d be happy with yourself looking back.
How do you choose between them?
My first question would be which one do you think you could make content about on a constant basis for the next 2 to 5 years?
The content doesn’t have to be daily, but it does need to be at least two or three times a week.
So does your mind flood with topic ideas about one in particular?
Are there more problems you can solve for others or hot button issues you know about in one versus the other?
If so, choose that one.
If they’re equal at this point, just choose one.
How do you monetize the niche after you pick it?
In the past (like the video below), I’ve recommended targeting people that want to make extra money within your specific niche. For example…golfers that want to make extra money.
But now I'm convinced that's not the best way.
It would make a lot more sense (and help you to connect with golfers more) if you focused your content on problems golfers had…like correcting a slice…
Or – better yet – focus on golfers that want to golf at your favorite courses...the courses you know really well.
Or focus on things to do and places to stay in the areas around your country’s top 10 or 25 golf courses.
Write content, shoot videos, do a podcast, etc…make content that you would want to find.
And then – when appropriate – make product or service recommendations with affiliate links.
You can also leave a standard link in the description of every video or inside every post that says something generic like...check out my free ebook about my top 2 places to stay at each golf course or my top 5 ways to correct a slice that only the pros know about.
Take a look at the resources section at the bottom of this post…some of those are affiliate links.
When you niche down like this, you could even get sponsorships, brand deals or other perks if you get well known. You never know.
And all because you’re focusing on something you know and love rather than something abstract like ‘make money online’.
My passion is to help nonprofits get the word out about the services they offer and cause/donor marketing.
It’s easy to think all this talk about niching down doesn’t apply to you…but it does.
Niching down will make it easier for you to reach people that care about you, your cause and your organization.
Since most nonprofits struggle to have enough money to reach their goals and serve their target population, I’d recommend you focus on building your donor base rather than reaching more clients. But niching down will help you do either or both.
Find your most engaged, caring donors and supporters and then research them…interview them.
Find out why they’re involved and what questions and concerns they have about your cause and your organization.
And then make content addressing those concerns and questions. As you post more and more content, more similar people will find you and see that you’re a thought leader and a transparent organization.
And when you share needs, they’ll respond.
It isn’t fast money, but it’s dependable money from them right people for the right reasons. And you don’t have to beg for it.
As Al Ries and Jack Trout—the world-renowned marketing consultants and bestselling authors of Positioning—note, you can build an impressive airplane, but it will never leave the ground if you ignore the laws of physics, especially gravity. Why then, they ask, shouldn't there also be laws of marketing that must be followed to launch and maintain winning brands?