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Three tips for WordPress freelancers finding a niche

finding your niche

A niche is all about your customers or your target customers.

With all this in mind, let’s take a look at three things to consider when choosing a niche.

While in college, I had this nice lady for English Composition class. Dr. Midkiff was one of those professors who cared about her students. I attended a small liberal arts college in my home state, so many of our professors were like that, but Dr. Midkiff and her husband were especially that way.

She was a petite woman who sported a hairstyle was more popular a few decades previously. Because she was smaller than most of us, she knew how to use her voice to get attention. By that, I mean she knew how to lower her voice so that we would have to listen closely.

Most of the time, when I turned in my essays, it was usually followed by, “Now Todd, I really think you need to be a little more specific.”

I still remember those words.

So, when I started freelancing full time, I began to hear those words again. It started in my friend Darrel who insisted that I needed to find a niche. It continued with expert after expert who believed that having a niche was the fool proof way to earn a better living.

Yet, when I patrol the Facebook chat groups, I hear many people struggling to find their niche. This is one of the most repeated types of questions on a daily basis.

I hear the words of Dr. Midkiff once again, “Now Todd, I really think you need to be more specific.”

I am here to tell you that I have solved this problem once and for all! cough cough

Let me back up there buckaroo.

It is a continuous struggle for many of us, especially those that are just starting out.

And, I believe, we overthink this problem.

So, I am going to go over some things I have discovered and learned (from experts) along the way. I am going to say what I think about the subject and give you a chance to disagree with me in the comments. That’s how we learn, right?

First things

Finding a niche for your business is not unique to WordPress developers and professionals.

Finding a niche for your business is not unique to WordPress developers and professionals.Click To Tweet

I regularly interact in the copywriting world as well as the WordPress world. In fact, in that world, a niche may be even more of a stressor. It also is something other types of freelancers struggle with.

The struggle that comes from “finding a niche” typically comes from someone just getting started in full-time freelance business. After all, they are the ones trying to find business, and, they have been told that a niche can help make things easier.

The irony is that stressing over a niche can slow down progress. Worrying that freelancers will get it wrong seems to be the biggest concern.

When we choose a niche, we are not locked in long term.

We can pivot to a different niche if the opportunity presents itself. If we pick a niche, especially in our first two years, there is no law that we have to stick with it for 20 or 30 years. We may find we don’t like the niche, or we may find that the niche isn’t specialized enough.

What is a niche?

Well, now this is the 1 million dollar question.  I checked with my friend Danavir to get his thoughts on the difference between a niche and a target audience. His response is that they are the same. I am going to go with that. I think they are the same too. So a niche, or a niche market, is an audience or specific market that you wish to target with your business.

Determine your target market
Determine your target market

Check out this definition from the Brennan Dunn’s Double Your Freelancing website,

A niche business is created by taking a specification or focus and coming up with a unique selling proposition, or USP. And an even better niche business combine the two to come up with a powerful USP, like serving online retailers (focus) who want to increase their conversion rates (specification).

Can a niche be a specialization? For instance, I am a WordPress developer, not a Drupal, Joomla, or a Ruby on Rails developer. I’m not a general developer, I am a WordPress developer.

The answer, I think, is that this is a specialization. This is what you do and how you differentiate yourself. Your differentiation might determine who you target or it may not.

A niche is all about your customers or your target customers.

With all this in mind, let’s take a look at three things to consider when choosing a niche.

Three things to consider when choosing a niche

1. A familiar industry

For my friend Darrell, it was a no-brainer. He began building and selling websites in an industry he spent years as a salesman. We often find we are in a second career and the knowledge we have of the industry from our previous career can be unparalleled.

After all, you are already familiar with the problems that industry has, already have contacts, and can find yourself stepping into that world much easier.

When it comes to using industry you are familiar with, it comes back to experience. Did you use to work in the financial industry? Maybe you worked in retail or for an IT company. All of this gives us valuable insight into an industry.

What do you know?
What do you know?

2. Industry you are passionate about

Okay, having a passion for an industry might not be the best indicator, but it can certainly work. Love tech? How about startups? Maybe you love working with authors. These are some of the types of interests and passions that can help you narrow down your niche market.

Working in a niche which taps into your passions and interests will help sustain you when things aren’t going well. According to Thomas Smale at Entrepreneur,

Business isn’t easy, and at some point it will test you. If you are working in an area that you don’t care about, your odds of quitting will greatly increase — especially as a first-time business owner.

Great advice.

3. Sustainability & Profitability

This can be an overlooked tip. If there isn’t enough revenue to sustain your business, it might be a bad niche market. Take the nonprofit industry. There are some non-profit organizations with large budgets and can sustain your efforts, however, if you target smaller nonprofits with small budgets, you may find yourself being a client of the organization.

When it comes down to it, sustainability is about profitability. Passion is good, but if a market you are passionate about doesn’t have profitability, you are going to struggle.

Conclusion

When you are just getting started a freelancer, it might be a good idea to take what you can get while trying to determine what you think your niche will be. Ultimately, however, finding a niche is the way to expand your business leads.

Less is more in the business world when it comes to target audience.

Consider these thoughts from an Entrepreneurship article,

Rather than creating a niche, many entrepreneurs make the mistake of falling into the “all over the map” trap, claiming they can do many things and be good at all of them. These people quickly learn a tough lesson, Falkenstein (Lynda Falkenstein, author of Nichecraft: Using Your Specialness to Focus Your Business, Corner Your Market and Make Customers Seek You Out) warns: “Smaller is bigger in business, and smaller is not all over the map; it’s highly focused.”

It can take some time to identify your niche and, again, you can choose to pivot if it doesn’t work out.

So, you veteran WordPress professionals, I have a question for you to answer in the comments below.

How did you determine what your niche would be for your WordPress business?

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Todd Jones
Along with being the resident writer for MainWP and content hacker at grafixCat media, I specialize in writing about startups, entrepreneurs, social media, WordPress and inbound marketing topics.
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