How to determine your niche: The brand of You
Many people want to start their own online business but get tripped up at the very first hurdle: finding a niche. It's important to choose the right niche for your website so that you can make progress promoting it, but how do you go about doing that? This article discusses how to do this from the start and remain flexible.
Does this sound like you - you really want to start an online business, and you have heard that it can be a way to make extra income as a side hustle or a way to break free from a job you don't like anymore. However, you get stuck at the first hurdle - you have heard that it is important that you choose the right niche otherwise it will be impossible for you to make any progress promoting your website but how do you find the right niche?. Many people who are not able to confidently pick a niche at this point, give up, or hastily pick a niche later to find they have pigeon-holed themselves into a niche they no longer enjoy.
If this sounds familiar, don't worry - the answer is very simple and does not require you to make any concrete answers at the start, and doesn't leave you stuck with a specific niche in the future either.
So, how do you determine your niche?
Let's first, do it the way most of us have read online, and then we can discuss a new approach, one that allows you to get going from day one and gives you complete freedom in the future.
The traditional way - pick a niche from the start
Imagine you haven't yet purchased a website domain but really want to get a website up and running - what do you do? Well, you need to determine a domain name related to your niche right? Let's say you determine dogs and everything to do with dogs is your niche, that's fine - dogs are great!
You could either buy a new domain name making it very obvious that your niche is dogs but what if in the future you change your mind or you want to branch out to writing about cats too - you are a bit stuck, and your website no longer makes sense. You could have picked a domain name a bit broader with something to do with pets for example and this would allow you to branch out later to cats, fish, or cockatoos but if you wanted to deviate away from pets you are still stuck. So, what is the answer?
Is there a better way?
Well, for myself I was in this exact situation, not about dogs, although I do like dogs but needing to determine my niche to pick a website domain. I was stuck with - what is the best niche for me?
Trying to answer this question the traditional way literally stopped me from even starting from becoming an affiliate marketer for years.
The problem is that what is the 'perfect' niche? For me, I couldn't answer the question and assumed that because I couldn't I was not cut out to be an affiliate marketer and so never started many times or never followed through long enough to show results in the past.
There is good news, there is an answer and that is the brand of 'You'
Image sourced from Unsplash
What is the brand of 'You'?
The brand of you is simple from the outside but the real value and potential lie under the hood. Quite simply the brand of 'You' is your personal brand. You can use your name only as your brand like I did or you can have a cool take on your name. The key is to make sure whatever name you use gives you the ability to brand it like a company does and allows you the freedom to pivot your niche in the future - more on that later. This can be a personal website or part of finding your business niche.
Why do you need a personal brand?
Ok, I get it, this might not sound earth-shattering or revolutionary but bear with me. Going back to the dog niche analogy earlier, if you instead started a website in your own name or something that can be made into your own brand you will not get stuck, never.
On day 1, you might think, I think I want to start a site focusing on dogs but you might find it difficult to rank for those keywords or you might find you just don't enjoy writing about dogs all day. That's fine, you could still branch out to cats and cockatoos too, no issues. What if 6 months down the line you are making traction but have maxed out all you can write about pets and want to replicate your success in another niche you have discovered along the way?
This is no problem - your brand is personal to you - you can go after whatever niche you want. In fact, this is what makes your brand stand out from the crowd and every other pet website - you do you, the more you show your experience and personality the more genuine you are online and this will shine through.
Your personal brand differentiates you
The brand of 'you' is what people think of when they hear your name (or your personal brand name). It's the impression you leave, the feelings people have when they interact with you. Your brand is what makes you unique, and it's up to you to make sure it's positive. You need to be intentional about your brand and work on building it every day. It takes time and effort, but it's worth it in the end.
It is important to remember that these days online, you can't just sit behind a computer and expect to bring in the big bucks - you need to reach out and create relationships in the 'real world. When you are your own brand you can do this in a more natural way and build trust with those that you partner with. Who would you rather do business with - some generic dog website or a person who puts their name behind their work and stands behind this in their business?
You are your own niche
Right, so I have said that being your own brand is a good thing and gives you the starting point and ultimate flexibility in the future. I will go a bit deeper here - you are also your own niche. Your unique life experiences are your niche and they are also your leverage.
Image sourced from Unsplash
Your experience and skills are your biggest strengths
Ignoring your 'pre-website owner' life is something most people do - they want to cater to a specific niche and unless their experience reflects it they will generally ignore it. Going back to dogs again, if your 9 to 5 job was as a nurse or a teacher, for example, this at first glance might not seem relevant but it could be. As a teacher can you use your skills of educating people to create a course on dogs or as a nurse, do you know animal groups that visit hospitals for example?
It doesn't have to be our jobs either - what challenges have you struggled with and overcome? for me, that has been insomnia. What skills do you have or passions/obsessions - do you love working on old cars in your garage on the weekends, have you run a marathon for a dog charity?
Where these skills, experiences, and contacts interact is a great place to start your online journey. For example, you are a nurse who loves dogs. You start writing content on your site about dogs but you also know dog groups that visit hospitals so you reach out and tell them about your site and ask to get mentioned on that charity's website - your website is getting noticed from the start. You also like to run marathons and you often run with your dog - could you write a course on how to run with your dog or start branching out to writing about running wear for dogs and humans? Maybe in the future, you meet a vet at a conference and they need help ranking their website - you are perfectly positioned to help them write valuable content.
For me, my vocational experience has been as an engineer and my passions are sustainability and digital marketing, These interact to highlight the importance of green marketing and energy efficiency to individuals and brands, especially for construction & engineering companies.
I hope you are getting the picture - your experiences and the people you know now are the best ways to grow your online impact from the get-go.
Do you need subject matter expertise to succeed?
What is an expert? someone with a Ph.D. in your niche, speaking at conferences on the topic all over the world - how many people are there like that in the world? Or is an expert someone who has more knowledge of the subject than the everyday person?
In my opinion, you just need to know your subject or product better than most. You need to be able to properly review a product and provide value to the everyday person who is looking for a genuine recommendation.
Do you know more than most people about what a runner and dog need to wear to go running together, what breaks and food you both need? I would class you as an expert and would argue that you could provide real value to someone wanting to start running with their feline friend.
What online businesses is this applicable to?
I am sure you are noticing a general theme here - flexibility, this is true for how you can leverage your own personal brand online - there are so many ways to make money online and when your personal brand is the constant you can branch out into everything from being an affiliate marketer, drop-shipping, online consultant/coach, Amazon seller, etc the opportunities are endless and when new ways come up int he future you can pivot into that too, all the time growing your personal brand that will help link and build up your other online money-getting efforts.
Your brand will always be evolving
As you gain more experiences in life, reach out to more people online, and make progress with your online business you will find new opportunities and new niches that you want to pivot into. The beauty of having your personal brand is that you can do this, over and over again, we cannot predict the future but we do know who we are - leverage that.
Adam is an online marketer and writer with a passion for sustainability and green technology. He created adamdroper.com as a platform to promote businesses that adopt sustainable practices.