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I’m an international marketing coach, top-ranking podcast host, speaker, interiors lover and black coffee drinker.
Today I want to talk about something that I wish I had done sooner in my business. And it is the word “niching”. And if you haven’t heard of that before, it’s basically narrowing down what you are focusing on, what you are offering and who your target audience is.
I’ve been in business working for myself full time for about four and a half years now. And when I started out I basically started my business because of a feeling in my gut that. I just had to do it. I listened to my gut and I left my job, which was a great job and I really enjoyed it, but I knew that it wasn’t where I was meant to be.
And so I had a few clients that had started working with me just before I quit my job and they found me through my online blog getinmyhome.com which I still write. And I started having a couple more local businesses where I was living at the time in Ballarat asking me for help with their own social media and their email marketing.
And so I took on my first few clients and I told my mum, mum “I’m going to quit my job and go out on my own.”
She’s like, “Emily, you need to go speak to my financial adviser first”. So I took a sick day and I went down, I had the meeting and he’s like:
“What are your books?”.
I basically had like a notebook that I’d written down. Like, this client will give me $300, this one would give me $200 a month. And that’s about it…
And of course his reaction was that “this is not adding up on paper”.
And I’d recently actually just bought my first property so I had a mortgage to pay and the financial adviser told me “I know that you’re not going to listen to me anyway. Just don’t tell your mom, but just go for it.”
So I went back to work and I resigned.
And in those early days, like I think a lot of us do, and this was certainly the case for me, I took on basically whatever I was asked to do. So starting out, I was doing some copy writing, doing some social media, and then one of my social media clients asked if I did branding.
Of course we do branding!
So I went, I put a post out on Instagram and I said, “is anyone here a graphic designer?!”. And I found Demie who I still work with today. So Demie came on board and we started offering branding.
Next thing, do you do websites? Of course we do websites! And I taught myself how to build websites.
And so as the months went on, I started offering quite a variety of different services. We were doing the branding, I was doing copy writing, the website design, Public Relations and social media. As those months passed, and I actually said this to someone the other day, I think the first year in business, it’s such a high, you’re out on your own.
You’re like, this is amazing. I’ve got no boss, I can do what I like, but to be honest with you, year two and three, it was not so great. I had a feeling in my gut and underlying anxiety as well that I was just like, what am I doing? What do I want to be known for? And being someone like I know that all of you are too, who wants to achieve and wants to do big things, I just knew that what I was doing wasn’t going to help me get there. I needed to get more focused, but the issue was I didn’t know what I wanted to do. And I was kind of resisting advice that I was being given.
In my first year in business, I signed up for a year long business course with The Entourage. It was a one year business course and it involved flying up to Sydney every two months to take part in intensive three day workshops on all your different aspects of business. And so during those weekends away in Sydney, on the third day we would have round tables with different experts from different industries and I would use these opportunities to ask these experts, “what would you do if you were me?”.
And again and again, they would tell me and I just refused to listen. So I would say, “what would you do?”. “What would you focus on if you were me in my business?” And all of them told me, Emily, focus on Instagram. Become the person who does Instagram. Become the Instagram girl. And what I was telling myself was, “Emily, you’re not good enough to be known as an Instagram person – you can’t possibly claim that.” And another thing that I told myself was, Instagram is not going be the thing forever, so “you can’t go all in on that”. Another thing I told myself was that is going to turn away so many people from working with me. Another thing I told myself, what if I get bored of doing Instagram?
And so I resisted that for so long and kept on going with offering the multiple types of services under my business until it got to a point that I sat down at the start of the year in 2018, and I was like, I can’t keep doing what I’m doing. If I want to create great things, I need to make a change. And that involves going all in on something.
I had about six months of work already lined up, so I saw all of that out. And then at that point I basically went all in and just simply branded myself as offering Instagram. Now the beauty of what happens that is that I started being asked to do a lot more guest speaking. I was asked to be on podcasts speaking about Instagram.
I could focus myself in terms of actually learning more about Instagram because it didn’t involve me keeping on top of also websites and branding and copy-writing and learning all of that and keeping on top of it all. I could just focus on the Instagram side of things and it took a whole lot of weight off my shoulder. And it also makes it a lot easier for people to refer to you. So my referrals were great too because it’s like, “oh, you need help with Instagram? You should speak to Emily”.
Niching has meant this for me:
So I hope that gives you a look into my own journey and I now I want to share my advice for you if you’re not quite sure what it is to niche down on.
So the way that I decided to niche on Instagram, apart from the fact that it was the same advice that I was told over and over, was that it was something that came very easily to me.
I was already being asked quite a lot as well about different Instagram topics too. So I’m like, “okay, there’s clearly something. There is clearly an opportunity there to go more in on that”.
And there was a demand for it. I was already running Instagram workshops that quite easily booked out too. So it was the obvious choice.
But a shout out to one of my friends, Steph, I literally sent her a message: “I’m like, Steph, this is kind of scary , what do you think? I’m going to just change my messaging to only focusing on Instagram. I just feel really weird about it. I don’t even have that many followers. I’m not even an expert” and all of that type of thing. So I just want to share that with you because it really is something that I wish I had done about three years ago rather than four and a half years into my business.
I think to start off with tasting different things is the only way you’re going to actually know what you enjoy the most, what is in demand from your audience and then once you have done some testing and tasting in that first year or so, then I really encourage you to niche down and think about what I want to be known for. And it’s a big question, but what I would say to you, if you are struggling to figure out (and you might just be like, well that is crazy Emily!) but this is what I asked myself:
“Emily, what do you want to be known as?”
”If you stood on a stage and you could only talk about one thing, what do you want to be world-best at?”
“If there was only one topic that you could talk about or you built your profile to be one of the best in the world, most known for it, what would it be?”
Because I really don’t believe that you can be pursuing like five different things like I was and have that growth and have that credibility and profile if you’re trying to pursue multiple different things to the same extent at the one time.
So even though you might be scared you’ll lose work, even though you want to work with everyone (just like I did!) and even though you don’t feel like you are an “expert” enough to claim that space (like I SURE did!)…
I encourage you to do that scary thing and go “all in” on what really lights you up and the area you know you can help people in the most. Because niching DOWN will GROW your business.
I acknowledge the Wurundjeri people as the traditional and ongoing custodians of the Kulin Nation - the place I call home, and I pay my deepest respects to their Elders past and present.