If you’ve been working online for very long then you’ve most likely heard the advice, “The riches are in the niches.” I think I first heard Pat Flynn (Smartpassiveincome.com) say that back in 2014 when I started listening to his podcast. Many, many other online business experts will tell you the same thing.
Let’s just use web design as an example for this exercise. When you first start as a freelance web designer you might do work for anyone that will hire you. Eventually, you will get to the point where you can start to turn down some work because you know it’s not a good fit for you or the client. When you hit that point, you can really focus on the exact business industries where you will excel.
1. First, take inventory of all your past jobs.
To do this, list out all the jobs, paid and unpaid, that you’ve ever had. Which ones light you up? Which ones drug you down? Cross out the ones that drug you down. What you have left are the jobs you’ve held that you really enjoyed.
Analyze these positions, WHY did they light you up? Write at least 3 reasons down.
2. Identify your passions and skills
Were you passionate about any of the jobs / volunteer positions you’ve had? Start there, then list any other passions/skills from your personal life. DO you love to travel? Are you good with children or the elderly?
List your skills, self taught or professionally trained.
Draw a line from your skills to the jobs that you’ve held that used these skills.
If your skills don’t line up with a job you’ve held then create a list of jobs you could hold that would match up with these skills.
3. Identify problems you could solve.
Start with the problems you solved in your past work.
Now list all other problems you could solve with your skills.
Double check the list. Do they all excite you? Do any of them strike dread in your heart? Fear is ok, but not dread. If you fear something it could be an excited fear that you can overcome.
As web designers we generally know what problem we are solving. However, there are many different specialties within our industry. Do you prefer the visual design and photography aspect? Do you lean toward strategy and marketing? Or do you like to help with content and SEO?
4. Narrow down your niche.
Take your lists of passions, past employment, skills, and problems to solve…. Begin a list of industries you could work in based on these.
EXAMPLE: 1. Passion = Veganism 2. Past employment = Customer service 3. Skill = Adobe Illustrator 4. Problem = Business owner needing a logo 5. Industries (niche) = Vegan Restaurants, Vegan influencers, Vegan products
5. Determine the profitability of your niche.
Maybe the niche you selected is too narrow? Do your research, look into Google trends and see how many searches there are per month on a given niche.
Check out the competition. Is it an oversaturated market?
Do you like working with startups and nonprofits? Will they be able to pay what you need to make? Some web designers work only in real estate, some work exclusively for restaurants. Check out the competition that focuses on these niches.
6. Test your niche.
Once you’ve decided on a niche, you need to test it, to be sure before you go all in on this niche. For web designers that means looking for jobs in these industries. When you have completed a project for a business owner in the niche you plan to focus on, make sure to get feedback from them. A great way to decide if the project is in your ideal niche, build a case study around their project. What went well? What needs improvement? Were you as excited about the niche as you thought you would be? Did you go above and beyond for your client?
According to Chris Ducker, Personal Branding expert, “Passion will always overcome plain old competition”
So the most important part of picking your niche is making sure you’re excited and truly passionate about the niche. Clients will see your passion and they will refer you to others in the industry.
What do you think?
Are you a Freelance Web Designer who hasn’t found the right niche? Tell us about it on social media.
As an added bonus, I’ve created a trello board template to help you find your niche.
Keep in mind, it could take several years to reach your sweet spot. Come back to this exercise next year and see if any of your passions and skills have changed. Determining how your passions and skills may have changed over the year will help you decide which niche to test next.