Let's Make Niching Less Scary

entrepreneurship Sep 10, 2020

Today’s post is from my friend Tom! Tom runs Design Cuts one of the biggest creative marketplaces in the world. He also coaches tons of creatives when it comes to business and marketing. Over to Tom! 



Hey everyone, and thanks for having me, Peggy!

Niching is one of the most powerful things you can do as a creative to stand out and become more successful. 

However, the idea of niching is one that fills many creatives with dread!

When folk I coach are worried about niching, it’s typically because of two reasons: 

1. They don’t want to feel creatively limited.

 2. They’re worried about missing out on business.


Let’s look at each of these concerns: 

“But won’t I feel super limited creatively? I don’t want to box myself in!”

This is a reasonable concern. After all, as creatives, we love to explore, experiment, and have fun, right?

I’m sure the idea of ONLY painting water lilies for the rest of the time may freak most of you out. 

The good news is, niching doesn’t have to be that limiting. Let’s take a look at why:


There are many ways to niche

Niching isn’t about pigeon-holing yourself into the smallest creative space possible. It’s just about a shift away from serving ‘everyone’ (which never works), and instead focusing on serving a defined group.

You can niche by audience (e.g.: targeting beginner hand-lettering artists, or professional photographers).

You can also niche by style (e.g.: food lettering, or animated illustrations).

 You could also niche by subject matter (e.g.: cute illustrations, or drawings of cats, or watercolor portraits).

When you learn more about niching, you realize there’s an abundance of options, both super narrow and some more broad. You definitely don’t have to feel constrained, it’s your choice.


Success doesn’t feel limiting

Often my students are scared to niche, but when they do, they experience more growth than they ever have before. 

Their initial fears fade away, replaced with excitement and potential.

Take my friend and previous student Zulfa at The Cosmic Feminist. When she began working with me, she had a couple of thousand followers on Instagram, and despite having a clear passion for feminism, wasn’t fully committed. I helped her to niche into this space, and her brand has blown up! She’s now managing a thriving community of over 100,000 passionate feminists and has launched a successful apparel line.


Your niche can and should be flexible

Often folks feel like once they’ve picked their niche, that’s it. The truth is, your niche isn’t a fixed thing, it should be ever-evolving.  

When I first started teaching marketing, I was targeting all entrepreneurs.

After a while, I decided to niche further into helping creatives specifically. That’s where things really started to take off for me. 

I’m always adjusting, pivoting, and learning, based on what’s working and where my heart’s at.

Whatever niche you explore today doesn’t have to be a life sentence. It’s just the first step towards clarity.


“What if my niche is too small / doesn’t pay?”

In the land of entrepreneurship, there’s a common saying: “The riches are in the niches”. 

You would be staggered by how many folks I know who are running businesses in very narrow niches and are CRUSHING it.

The beauty of the internet means that it’s never been easier to attract a lot of people to your work, even in very narrow spaces.

 In fact, in such a busy online world, it’s a super-effective strategy to cut through all the noise. 

If you are generic and generalized, you’ll blend in. Don’t be afraid to occupy a more defined, narrow space. Serving people who share your passions can be hugely fulfilling (and profitable!).


You can always go broader

If you truly have picked a niche that is too small, nothing is stopping you from going broader. A simple pivot is all it takes to open up a world of possibilities.

 Let’s say you’re only illustrating watercolor lilies, but you’re struggling to build an audience. It’s pretty easy to pivot into watercolor illustrations of natural environments - something that will attract a much broader audience.

BONUS TIP: If you want to validate if a niche is too narrow, search for Facebook groups around your chosen topic/interest. If groups existing with tens of thousands of members or more, there’s a good chance you can build an audience in your chosen niche.


Want to learn how to niche successfully?

I hope that this helped alleviate some of your concerns around niching.

Niching is truly one of the best ways to find success with your work. It doesn’t cost you anything or requires any more skills than what you currently possess. It’s just the willingness to commit to serving a specific audience, instead of trying to serve everybody 

If you would like to learn exactly how to pick a successful niche, I’ve written The Ultimate Guide to Niching - a free guide, available for my newsletter community.

You can sign up, to receive the entire guide, plus my best weekly marketing tips for creatives using the link below: 

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