“Customers buy when they find that you are in their bull’s eye… When you have a niche – either by who you serve or by what you do – then you stand out as a specialist.” – Paul Simister, Differentiate Your Business.
As a freelancer or small business owner, ‘find your niche’ is advice you’ve heard many times.
But why is finding a profitable niche so important – and what does that process actually look like?
What’s a niche and why do I need to find mine?
‘Better a big fish in a small pond than a small fish in a big pond.’
This well-worn phrase might sound like a truism, but when it comes to finding a profitable niche, the logic is sound. After all, it’s the big (or colourful) fish who gets to take his pick of the spoils…
What is a ‘niche’ anyway?
Merriam Webster was kind enough to furnish us with 2 fitting definitions for ‘niche’:
- a place, employment, status, or activity for which a person or thing is best fitted
- the situation in which a business’s products or services can succeed by being sold to a particular kind or group of people
“If you try to appeal to everyone, you’ll end up appealing to no one.”
Perhaps the most persuasive argument for choosing a niche is that zeroing in on a specific market sector or group of people allows you to identify:
- Where they are, both on and offline
- The communities they are active members of
- The messages & language that resonate with them
- The problem(s) they’re struggling with
This information, paired with a business idea you’ve taken the time to validate is the starting point for a business that appeals to a specific set of people and which solves a specific problem.
The value of going niche
The client’s point of view
Put yourself in your client’s shoes for a moment.
You’re a health coach whose website copy is in dire need of personal training. You know that expert help is needed but you have no idea what to look for in a copywriter or how much it’s going to cost you.
You turn to Google to search for a copywriter and, amongst the sea of prose-spouting wordsmiths you spot ‘Sarah Barton: Copywriting for Heart-Centered Health Coaches’. It’s fair to say she’s got your attention…
On her site she walks you through her philosophy & how she works, all the while showcasing the dozens of satisfied health coaches she’s worked with.
You’re immediately confident that Sarah is:
- Genuinely tuned in to your industry
- Committed to helping health coaches like you get results
- Able to capture the message you want to communicate in your copy
Clearly choosing a niche is a powerful tool in your bid to make your business both relevant & attractive to a specific market.
How to choose a profitable niche for your own business
“Many people talk about ‘finding’ a niche as if it were something under a rock or at the end of the rainbow, ready-made. That’s nonsense,” says Lynda Falkenstein
If one word deserves your full attention, it’s ‘profitable’.
Unless you’re engaged in a ‘passion project’, making enough money to keep your business afloat is the 1st order of business.
Validating your business idea is therefore a crucial step that should precede the steps below.
As part of the validation process, you will have conducted keyword research using Google’s Keyword Tool. This will have given you a clear understanding of the level of demand for your product or service.
It’s now time to take that a step further using another keyword research tool, Ubersuggest.
Where Ubersuggest differs from Google Keyword Tool is in the fact that it uses your chosen keyword to generate other related (and often more granular) terms – some of which will likely spark ideas for a profitable niche worth exploring.
Giving Ubersuggest an upgrade
Before getting started in Ubersuggest, you can vastly improve the value of your research by installing the ‘Keywords Everywhere’ extension for Chrome or Firefox. Doing this will allow Ubersuggest to show both monthly search volume and Cost Per Click (CPC) for your search terms.
In Chrome, the extension looks like this:
You’ll need to give permission for its installation by clicking ‘Add extension’ on the notification bar:
Once the extension has been added, you’ll be prompted to enter your email to get your free API key.
To complete the setup, enter your API key into the text box as per the instructions below:
Now when you search for your chosen term in Ubersuggest, you’ll see that two additional columns have been added (Monthly Volume & CPC).
Using Ubersuggest to find a profitable niche
Carrying the term ‘freelance copywriter’ forward from the validation stage, we head to (the now pimped) Ubersuggest and enter the same term. It reveals 4,400 monthly searches & a Cost Per Click of £4.00. While a good indicator of the popularity of the term, getting more granular will allow you to target and reach a more specific group of people.
As a skilled copywriter with an interest in and good level of knowledge of health, nutrition and wellness, you might refine your search to ‘freelance healthcare copywriter’.
While the results are damning for your chosen term, Ubersuggest reveals a new possibility, ‘freelance medical copywriter’ with 20 monthly searches and a relatively low CPC of £0.33
Naturally, we’d like a higher search volume, paired with likely transactional intent which, as the diagram below indicates, is the ‘intent to perform some web-mediated activity’ – activities that are often related to a purchase.
Refining your search further, you might enter ‘medical copywriter’ into Ubersuggest, revealing a more promising 140 monthly searches (more interest) and a CPC of £2.75 which, while not a direct indicator of service demand, does indicate the amount of advertising competition for the term, and its business value.
Moving forward with your niche
With these steps complete, you’re in a strong position to move forward and conduct further research into the medical copywriting field. The focus and clarity this knowledge presents you with can be the key to occupying a niche that both hits your client’s bull’s eye and is profitable.