By Rohi Shetty
Most freelance writers struggle to find their niche. Either we procrastinate or we choose a niche that isn’t profitable. When we don’t have a clearly defined niche, it’s hard to communicate what we do and to find potential clients. Whether we are new or experienced writers, we need to choose our niche and to choose it wisely.
What is a niche?
A niche is a specific group of people who have a clear and compelling problem and are seeking a solution to it.
Most writers resist choosing a niche because they don’t know which audience to focus on. However, you will be surprised to know that picking a target audience is not so important. It’s more important to discover a problem that people have and then offer a specific solution to them. So your first step is to identify a pressing need and to build your freelance writing business around a specific solution.
- I help online entrepreneurs (audience) who are stressed and overwhelmed (problem) to find effective ways to relieve their stress and feel great about themselves (solution).
- I help freelance writers (audience) who are struggling to sell their books online (problem) to publish and market their Kindle books on Amazon (solution).
- I help online authors (audience) who are struggling to popularize their website (problem) to build a responsive email list (solution).
Connect with your community to discover your niche
We tend to assume we know what our clients really want. However, we are more often wrong than right. Instead of guessing what our audience wants, we need to get in touch with them and ask them.
Here are some questions to find out what your audience wants:
- What’s the biggest challenge in your life right now related to freelance writing (the problem you want to identify and solve)?
- What is the biggest result you want to achieve in this area?
- What would help you get this result?
- Who do you consider to be an expert in this area?
You can ask one or more of the above questions to your offline readers, email subscribers or followers on social media. Then depending on their responses, choose about ten or more of them for a 15-minute consultation online, by phone or in person. Ask questions and then just listen. Be sure to write down the specific words they use that relate to their problems and emotions. You can use them in your future posts for a deeper connection with them.
When you’ve discovered the most pressing problems of your audience, you can offer them a specific solution to their problems, instead of what you think they want.
How to find a niche that is best for you?
A successful niche has to fulfill three criteria. It has to solve a specific problem for a well-defined group of people who are willing to pay for the solution to this problem. We have already discussed these factors. However, it is equally important for us to have a passion or abiding interest in solving the problem for others.
If you miss any of these three factors, your choice of niche is likely to fail. Use this checklist to help you discover a successful niche:
- What are your areas of knowledge or expertise?
- What are you passionate about?
- What do you love to do?
- What are you good at?
- What do you enjoy learning about?
- What skills have people paid you for in the past?
- What impact do you want to have in the world?
- What ideas do you want to share?
- Which problems or results do you enjoy helping people with the most?
- Make a list of all the problems you have helped your clients solve.
- Make a list of all the problems you want to help your clients solve.
- What problems would your audience pay the most to solve?
- What difficulties are people with these problems experiencing?
- What specific results would your audience be willing to pay you to get?
- Have you found out whether people are actually paying for these results?
- What type of problem are you well known for solving?
- What type of problem do you want to be well known for solving?
- Are there specific groups of people who have the problems you want to solve?
- What kind of people do you want to serve?
- What groups or communities do you belong to?
- What are the specific places where your target audience hangs out online?
- What are the specific places where your target audience hangs out offline?
- What are some of their common characteristics: age, gender, location, occupation, family status, income, emotional status, and so on.
Seven characteristics of an ideal business niche
Once you have identified a niche, use this niche assessment checklist to evaluate it objectively. It will help you to determine whether you can be successful with your niche. Remember, your niche is not just your audience; it is the people you serve as well as what you do for them.
- Are there specific places where your audience can be found?
This could be online or offline. It could be networking events, associations, online forums or social networks like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram. It could be people searching for a particular solution on Google. It can even be on other people’s newsletters or blogs. You have to know where your audience hangs out so that you can communicate with them.
- Can you honestly say that you know, trust, and like the people in your audience?
You’re going to spend a lot of time with these people, so it’s important to pick a group that you actually care about. Sometimes we pick our niche with our head rather than with our heart, but the heart has to be part of this equation.
- Do you know what result your audience is willing to pay you to get?
You need to provide a highly desirable result for your audience. To do that, you have to identify what result they want so badly that they are willing to pay for it.
- Are you passionate about delivering the result your audience wants?
You need to be passionate about your audience, but you also need to be excited about the results that they want. Without this passion, you won’t have the energy to stick with it for too long.
- Do you want to be known for delivering that result?
Can you position yourself as the expert for delivering that result at any gathering of your audience?
- Do you have the expertise and the desire to be the best at delivering this result now or in future?
If you already have the expertise and/or you can commit to continued mastery in what you do, you bound to be very successful in this niche.
- Can you identify and model other writers who are successfully serving the same audience?
If you can find other people who have built a successful business marketing to the same audience, your niche already has a proven record of success. Most writers tend to avoid an area or niche with competition. But the opposite is true. Think of it in this way: these people are paving the way for you and making it easier for you to be successful. You can learn from their failures and successes.
The best way to use this checklist is to NOT go on to the next question until you replied “YES” to the previous question. It has three levels:
- If you don’t answer “YES” to the first three questions, you will probably fail.
- If you answer “YES” to the next two questions (Q4 and Q5), it will significantly increase your chances of success.
- If you answer “YES” to the last two questions (Q6 and Q7), you’re definitely going to be a very successful writer.
So use this checklist to see whether you have a niche that will allow you to have a successful online writing business in the long run.
Once you find the right niche,
- you will be known as an expert in your niche
- your income will increase because you will attract the right clients
- your ideal clients will be eager to work with you
- you will find it easy to grow your business
- you will get many word-of-mouth referrals and
- you will be able to network with other influencers in your niche
- The Definitive Guide to Finding Your Profitable Niche by Bill Baren
- The Freelance Niche Report by Ed Gandia (Free report available at http://smarterfreelancing.com/nichesurvey)
- How to Pick the Best, Smartest Niche for Your Freelance Business (https://b2blauncher.com/episode80/)
- The Niche Myth: Why You DON’T Need to Specialize to Launch a Successful Writing Business (https://b2blauncher.com/episode16/)
- The Marketing Mentor Niche Checklist as well as a bonus webinar, How to Focus Your Creative Business by Ilise Benun (http://bit.ly/NicheChecklist)
Join the conversation.
Do you already have a niche? What is it?
If not, do you plan to define your niche using the checklists above?
Do you need any extra help?
Let us know in the comments below.
(15 December 2018)
Rohi Shetty is a doctor, health writer, and digital publisher. Check out his Kindle books on Amazon and connect with him on LinkedIn. You can contact him here if you want his help to publish and promote your books on Amazon or Smashwords.