Yes. Oh, of course. Sure, I can do that. Yes, I have experience with that. Whatever you need, let me know.
When I first started my content marketing business about five years ago, I think my “word of the year” was desperation.
I had pretty much leaped into entrepreneurship without a plan and with only one client, and I was pretty darn convinced that it was only a matter of time before this whole work-for-myself thing just went to shit.
So whatever potential client came my way … with whatever semi-marketing-related task they needed … I immediately said YES.
Because I had worked at a marketing agency where I wore about 50 gazillion hats, I had a lot of experience doing different things. I was a copywriter. A marketing strategist. A social media expert. A project manager. A proposal writer. An email aficionado. A website guru. A production assistant.
So I was comfortable with the frantic hat-switching. It was what I had practiced for the previous 12+ years.
It didn’t take me long, however, to realize that one of the reasons I had burnt out on agency life was the same reason I was quickly burning out in my own business:
The expectations I had on myself, my time and my capacity to work with little ones at home were ridiculous.
Today, however, I love my business(es). (Yep, now I have the time to run TWO: this little thang you’re reading right now, and Cursive Content Marketing.) I’m set to make MORE than I was when I was working probably double the hours I’m working now. And I love, love, love my clients.
What is a niche? A niche refers to “products, services, or interests that appeal to a small, specialized section of the population.”
Basically: “niching down” is narrowing in on what you offer, and to whom you offer it, in order to become the go-to person for that group or offering.
For me, that meant dropping all of my agency and small-business clients and choosing to position my content marketing business as THE solution for the education space (think: private or public schools, higher education, etc.)
But how did I decide on that specialized section of the population — and how did I make the shift? Glad you asked, mama.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed and unfocused in your business, and you want to narrow in on your services or clients so that you can escape the #doitall mindset, here are some questions to ask yourself:
The first thing you need to do is to get real about your skills (or, the skills of your team members). What are your standout services? What do your current clients rave about?
For example, I love helping my clients craft their school stories: figuring out what it is about their school that makes them unique, and writing a narrative that appeals to their ideal audiences.
And (if I can toot my own horn), I’m good at it. My clients love their stories. I rarely get feedback or pushback. It’s a skill that incorporates a variety of my marketing abilities, and it’s one I’ve perfected over time.
Make a list of the services and skills that you feel like a total rockstar offering — the ones you have the most confidence in. Because you need confidence to find the right niche.
I think that, too often, we simply focus on what we CAN do, rather than what we WANT to do. If we’re really good at something, we look to monetize it — even if it’s not our favorite thing to spend our time doing.
Sit down and ask yourself: if I could only work on ONE type of project or service each day, what would it be? And why?
Even as my business has grown, I still really enjoy writing. Blog posts, articles, letters … being able to bring my clients’ communities to life through stories is such a fun way to spend my time.
This is closely tied with #2, but if you are offerings services where you’re wishing in your head, “please, don’t pick that one; please, don’t pick that one,” then, perhaps you shouldn’t be offering it.
For me, I know enough about social media that I can craft a simple social media plan for a client and write their social updates. But I am nowhere near an expert. Or even a “social media strategist.” So when clients would ask me for help in this area, I would get super stressed. It wasn’t worth the return for me.
As creative mompreneurs, our most valuable asset is time. We can’t make more of it, so we have to use it wisely. And to use it wisely is to enjoy it. Don’t waste your precious business time doing work you hate. (You can work for someone else if you want to do that!)
Next, consider your past experience. In what areas or industries do you have the most successful work? Think about client results, testimonials, etc.
Before I decided on my niche, I began collecting testimonials — and without me recognizing it, all of my best testimonials were from my clients in the education space. Look back on your results and see if your most successful projects or clients share any attributes.
Who are your favorite clients, and why? Chances are, your favorite clients or customers share some qualities — whether that be the ways in which they work, their personalities, their expectations of you and your partnership, their demands on your time, etc.
Along with this, think about any client relationships that didn’t work well. What was it about those partnerships that didn’t work for you? Perhaps the client didn’t respect your time or boundaries or expertise. Keep track of any client red flags for the future, so that you steer clear of problem customers.
Liking who you work with is one thing. Getting them to PAY you for it is another. So it’s important to think about who actually has the resources to hire you and pay you what you’re worth.
In addition, you want to select clients who actually value the services you offer and recognize the impact you can have on your business. It gets exhausting having to first convince a potential client or customer that they need your services before you even begin working together.
A shorter learning curve makes a client relationship much more respectful — and lucrative — in the end.
Look at the competition: in what space is there room for something new, or disruptive? Where are there opportunities to position yourself away from the crowd?
If you have the opportunity to become the go-to expert in an uncrowded space, take it. This doesn’t always mean finding some obscure niche — it may just mean focusing tighter in the area in which you’re currently working.
For example, perhaps you currently market to “moms.” But instead of focusing on all moms, could you narrow in and be more specific? “Moms who run marathons.” “Moms who work part-time in the Northeast.” “Moms who Whole30.” The more ridiculously specific, the better.
By considering these seven factors, you can begin to narrow in on what you offer and to whom you offer it — which will result in you spending more of your time doing what you love, with clients and customers you love.
She adores being mom to her two little ladies and drinking obscene amounts of coffee from mugs with pithy sayings. Find her on Instagram, and learn more about ways you can collaborate with MotherHustle.
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