What is, and is not a niche

by Michele on August 30, 2013

Solopreneurs need to know their nicheA huge part of being a successful solopreneur is knowing what your niche is.  People use the words niche, ideal client, and target market interchangeably and so for this post when I use the word niche it means the clients you are best suited to serve, who love and for whom you can do your best work.  It’s also the people who have a problem you can solve, know they have it and are willing to pay you to solve it.

It’s important to know your niche so you can speak to them in everything you do.  An older adult trying to improve their mobility after hip surgery is looking for something very different in a personal trainer than a young marathon runner is.  A Manhatten condo owner with contemporary taste wants something different in an interior designer than someone with a 200-year old country mansion.  If people don’t feel like you are talking to them, they won’t take the time to find out if you can help them.  They’ll only read further if they think you get what they want and need.

Here are some examples of things that are not adequate descriptions of a business niche:

  • “In transition.”  This isn’t a niche because almost everyone is in transition most the time.  You transition from birth to toddlerhood to preschool to kindergarten…… to college to your first job…..from job to job, career to career, in and out of various relationships, etc.  I can’t think of any period in my adulthood where I wasn’t in transition that lasted more than a few months.
  • “Anyone who wants more energy.”  This also includes “more money, longer life, more love,” etc.  Who doesn’t want all of these all the time?  Sure, maybe there are a few people who feel they have all the energy they could possibly make use of but they are rare.  This description is too broad because it refers to most people most of the time.
  • “Everyone,” and this includes variations such as “everyone with skin, everyone with a brain, etc”  People will immediately tune this out because it’s so broad.  Nobody is holding their breath for the magic solution for people with skin.
  • “Small business.”  This is too broad for anyone to feel that you are speaking to them.  Small business includes everyone from a teenager who mows lawns for spending money all the way up to a company with a few million in revenue and a few dozen employees.  This isn’t a bad start for targeting, but it needs to be narrower in order for people to feel heard.
  • “Women” or “Women over 50.”  Women is just too broad a category.  There are so many variables that not all women can be grouped into one homogeneous group.  Even with the age bracket, it’s still too broad.  Consider a 51 year-old woman with young children still at home who works full-time and helps her parents with their medical needs, and compare her to a 90 year-old great grandmother who has been retired for decades.  What do they have in common?  How can one message reach them both?

Your niche and how you speak to them has to be much narrower than any of the above examples.  Ideally, your copy is so on target that people you are good fit for will get a chill up their spine and think “How does he/she know that about me?”  Yes, you may turn some people off but those are not the people you are a good fit for.  There is a risk narrowing your focus in that some people may not be interested.  However, the risk of not narrowing is much bigger because you run the risk of reaching nobody.

How do you define your niche?  Share it in the comments along with a link to your site so we can see your targeting in action.




  1. Mozette says:

    Hey, Michele… as you can see from my website address, I’ve gone live on Facebook! Today was the day I decided to get serious and jump into life with it.

    You see, I’ve been trying to work on the face to face deal of selling my Crafty Pegs to people. I went to my local, regional art gallery (where I work as well) and they wouldn’t take my pegs; claiming they were ‘too crafty’ and suggested The Kingston Butter Factory. So, today, I took them there. Even though they sold huge amounts of craft items, they wouldn’t sell them, telling me that ‘because of the economic climate, people won’t buy these because they’re just pegs’. I tried to tell the lady that I also paint larger pegs and am looking at doing up bigger pegs to put magnets on the back… but it was a no-go.

    I was bummed… seriously! I didn’t want to go to the craft markets. The competition there would have just rubbed me out. So, I jumped online, told my friends on FB about my problem and sighed. One of my friends suggested I corner my niche market with a business page and so within the hour, I created the page and uploaded some photos of my pegs. But it wasn’t just showing them off, I also gave advice about painting and how to change shades of paint from dark to light. I’m hoping to teach people how to paint on there as well as display my work.

    I can’t wait to see how it pans out! 😀

    1. Michele says:

      Mozette, GREAT job on the Facebook page! It really looks terrific, and you’ve done a great job of capitalizing on how visual your product is. I’m so excited for you. Also, it’s great how you just jumped in and got started with the first step that you could take instead of waiting for things to be perfect. Way to go!

      PS – I shared my favorite picture on my page and it looks great! http://www.facebook.com/mchristensenbiz

  2. […] “What is, and is not a niche” by Michele Christensen […]

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