When starting your business it is important to have a focus, AKA a niche. This is defined as a specialized segment of the market for a particular kind of product or service (oxford dictionary). “Niching down means having a clear focus on who your ideal target customer is and aligning your marketing to match” (Colin Scotland, “what it means to niche down [and how to do it]). When starting a business there is conflicting advice to niche down or not to niche down. This makes it very confusing so let me explain the benefits to both and help you decide which is best for you.
Don’t niche down
One of the most common arguments I see for not niching down is when starting out, how will you know what you like to do? How will you know what content your audience will like? You need to try out a few things to see what will click best.
Andrea Elibero (Nov 24, 2020) discusses three reasons not to niche on her blog “Dancing Leaf Solutions”. One point she makes is that as a new business it’s important to learn as you go and try various things to allow space for your niche to find you. “No need to become the expert in something you aren’t committing your work life to.”
Do you want to put all your time and energy into specializing in a very specific niche and becoming an expert in a small pond of fish or rather get on a boat with a net to reach further and catch more fish?
Advocates who preach niching down say that it focuses your business. Having a micro-niche really shows the audience and potential clients what you do and what to expect when they decide to follow you on the social media account you use. Without a plan in place and having a scope that is too broad will water down your message. By narrowing down your ideas and offerings to a specific audience you can really tailor your message to them by providing the answers to their pain points. You want to separate yourself from your competition or else you will get lost at sea.
A real-life example
I will use my experience as a micro-influencer (because I consider it a business) as an example to explain the two options and share what I found to be successful. I used to blog and have a social media presence promoting green living. Green living is quite general and if you choose the path not to niche you would leave it at that. You can create content in any subject that falls under that umbrella. Topics could include how to save energy, eating vegan, going plastic-free, recycling, environmentally friendly transportation, eco-friendly clothing etc. The possibilities are endless and the audience is massive.
Now if I were of the mindset to niche down, I would need to do some research. I would need to narrow down the scope of green living and make it more specific keeping in mind what I am passionate about and what speaks to my core values. I could narrow down to a topic as small as zero waste cooking or sustainable clothing for children etc.
As most of you know by now, I am a mom and I am trying to live my best green life. It’s hard to do with kids and it took some time for me to realize that any change is a step in the right direction. Long story short I decided to share my knowledge to other parents because it was relatable to me and my scenario. There were a lot of parents in the same position I was in and I wanted to help give them the confidence to take some realistic steps to achieve their goals. I niched down to “realistic eco-friendly family living”. It was niched down but wasn’t micro niched and allowed me some wiggle room with my topics and really spelled out my audience. I spoke about my specific audience profile in my first blog you can read here.
When I had my blog, My approach was to have content that was broad within the green living space but also created content that specifically appealed to parents wanting to live greener. It really worked out well and I was able to gather many more sets of eyes and to grow my reach by casting a large net. From those people I was able to really engage and help parents with the content that I specialized in. Having a net to reel people in to start, then sifting them through to more specific content, then convert the audience within your smaller niche to sales or in my case to my mailing list.
Trena Little is a YouTube strategist who has explained this filter perfectly in her video (watch here). The video title is “ DON’T NICHE DOWN in 2022…” but it is really about how to use your Niche instead. Her funnel analogy is a perfect way to explain how it works.
So, to niche or not to niche?
Not niching down will allow you to be able to speak to the masses while niching down will allow you to provide your audience fixes to their specific pain points.
Is a mix of the two the best option?
What would you do?
What is a niche and should you have one? Find out here: https://bit.ly/35xXgWn #nichingdown #yourniche
Niching down or not niching down? Click the link to learn which is best for your small business. https://bit.ly/35xXgWn
I think I have a similar mindset to you when it comes to niching down. In my opinion, I think at the beginning of your journey on social media it can be most valuable to try out different types of content and see what works well for you and your audience. Once you have a feel for the type of content that you enjoy sharing, and that others enjoy consuming, you get a better idea of what sub-category (or in other words, niche) that you want to focus on. This may not be the solution for every situation, but for me personally— this is what I plan to do on social media in the future!
Thanks for sharing your thoughts and your real-life example! I find it very inspiring that you had a blog about green living! So cool.
I’m so glad we have a similar mindset and you also have found something that works for you! Some people really niche down so small I feel like it limits them but like you say, some situations would call for it.
You are so sweet, I stopped the blog when I had my second because having a baby mid pandemic on CERB was stressful enough. I still like the work so turned it around and into something same-same but different.
Hi Sarah, such a great topic of discussion. I think there have been so many mixed messages out there about niching but I think a mix is gives you a broader range. You can reach out to a broader audience while still tapping into your target market. At least that’s what I think. I could totally be wrong. I loved your personal example!
Thank you! I don’t know that there is a wrong answer as it would depend on your unique brand or business so if that works it’s perfect. I like that its customizable for each situation.
I have a hard time thinking of social media as a job, I know I am old and the concept to making an online presence income producing is a really hard concept to grasp – but I am working on it. I like the idea of niching down in my case. I find it so overwhelming – it think a narrower specific audience would be easier for me to manage. How do you manage responding to a very wide audience?
You certainly don’t have to make social media a job and can use it just for personal engagement. Marketing these days is moving or has moved primarily to social media. Its much cheaper than traditional advertising avenues, businesses can target specific audiences in ads and such as well (among other reasons, maybe my next blog topic idea?).
It is an overwhelming topic and so much to it. Give yourself grace, you’re doing great.
Creating content for a wider niche will still remain relevant to your overall expertise.
For example, I used to run quarterly waste audits where you had to keep your garbage, recycle and compost in view for one week. Not on your kitchen counter but somewhere like your garage or somewhere you can tally it up at the end. This challenge was really popular for a wider audience (age range, demographic, lifestyle etc.) then after the week I would create content to help change some habits they discovered they had in addition to a freebie for realistic parenting hacks to combat wasteful habits. Do you see how the content reached a wider range but ended filtering down to my smaller target niche to help solve some of their pain points?
So responding to a wide range would still be within my specialty where I was knowledgeable enough to engage with them.
I hope this helped answer your question and I hope I didn’t make it more confusing.
Thanks for reading
Hi Sarah, I really enjoyed your blog post this week! To niche or not to niche is something I have repeatedly done research on and there are so many opinions out there. I think the trick is to find what you’re passionate about and filling a gap in the market, but also experimenting with content and trying new marketing methods. After a while, analytics really help to narrow down what your audience does or doesn’t respond to positively. After listening to your audience, you can expand on the results and build a great product/service/community/company!
Have a wonderful day!
Thanks so much Charley,
That’s amazing you have also done a lot of research on this subject.
Thank you so much for reading my blog and sharing your thoughts as well.
Hi Sarah, I am so glad you wrote about this topic. I really had no idea about this but it makes sense to me now. I think I like the casting of the big net first. Get as many followers as you can and then focus on more specific areas of expertise. You did a great job of explaining how niches work with a great links. Thanks so much!
Hi Kerry, Thank you for reading and sharing your preference.
I am so glad that this blog was helpful in explaining it.
Have a wonderful day!
I didn’t even know that this was a thing, thanks for opening my eyes to niching and for sharing your personal experiences. We are by all means not an actively “go green family”, but we do try to do our part to help the environment as much as we can and waste less.
My pleasure! Thanks for reading it!
No worries about not being an actively “go green family”, no judgement here.
What a thought provoking subject. I think that for me, in my art, I have to choose not to niche down. Because ultimately, I am drawing my interests and passions, and those change over time! Not to mention that I haven’t really found my audience yet.
I think that you’ve found a great niche for yourself, and I can absolutely see that resonating with a lot of people.
Thank you for writing about this topic and giving both arguments some reasoning! This is definitely something I need to consider more when branding.
Thank you for reading! Good luck with your audience, Its hard to try and figure it all out.
Thank you so much for reading my blog and such a nice message.