This is the second portion of my series The Road to Becoming a Marketing Professional. This series is my self-exploration of my growth as a digital marketer. I have been working as a digital marketer for over two years, and am always striving to learn and grow as a marketing professional.
You can read the first post in this series here:
The Road to Becoming a Marketing Professional: Stop 1 Finding My Creative Voice
Finding my creative voice as a digital marketer was the first step to growing as a badass marketing guru. However, it certainly doesn't end there. Now that I have a better understanding of my creative voice, I need to figure out what my niche is.
Throughout this process, I identified a number of questions to explore that would allow me to identify what my niche is. First, I started with what I am known for, or in other words, what do people think of me? Then, I moved on to figuring out what I'm good at, or what are the skills I most identify with? Finally, I asked myself what I love to do, or what it is that truly brings me joy.
What Am I Known For?
In this portion, I decided to begin by discovering what my friends and family think about me. I posted a message on my personal Facebook page (which is reserved for close friends & family) asking them to tell me one to three words they'd use to describe me.
The results of this were interesting, if not a bit surprising. I got a lot of answers including friendly, loyal, cat lover, funny, caring, genuine, enthusiastic, ambitious, and sarcastic. To be honest, it felt like I was begging for attention. However, once I pushed past that feeling, I came out with an awesome list of keywords that those closest to me associate with me, which was exactly what I was looking for!
One challenge with this strategy is that it doesn't necessarily show me the negative side of what people might think of me. While I don't necessarily want to focus on the negative aspects, it would be nice to have a well-rounded view of people's opinion of me.
Because branding is what people say when they think you're not listening, this strategy doesn't necessarily give me the whole picture. Therefore, I had to dig a little deeper into my social media to read between the lines of what is being made public.
"Branding is what people say about you when they think you're not listening."
I logged into my social media accounts and asked myself a few questions as I browsed.
- What are people sharing with me? In other words, what is it they think I'm interested in?
- What kinds of things am I sharing most often? In other words, what is it I'm portraying to the world I'm interested in?
On my Facebook, my friends and family usually share anything related to animals (cats & sloths are my thing), travel, and fashion, with an emphasis on shoes. On my end, many of my posts are related to personal achievements such as attending design lectures and completing freelance jobs.
I followed this procedure with each of my accounts. I viewed them as if I was on the outside looking in. You know when you find someone you admire, and you go through each of their social media profiles and dissect them to find out who this person is? That's exactly what I did with my own, and what I'd recommend doing to yours if you're looking to find out how you're portraying yourself to the world.
When all was said and done, I came up with the following:
I'm known for my obsession with coffee, my red hair, my love for shoes, loving cats, and having a mostly black wardrobe. I'm known to be ambitious, artistic, cats, travel, funny, on time, caring/empathetic, loyal, and genuine/authentic.
So, what are you known for?
What Am I Good At?
This portion didn't require quite as much research as the last. Discovering what I'm known for meant that I needed to get down to the nitty gritty of what people think about me. On the other hand, it should be a little easier to understand what I'm good at, right?
Although I didn't need to poll loved ones to determine what I'm good at, there was still a good bit of self-reflection required. What am I actually good at, versus what I "pretend" I'm good at? And, am I truly pretending, or am I just kind of faking it till I make it?
I decided I needed to dig into my LinkedIn skills for this portion. The best part about LinkedIn is that not only is it my opinion of what I'm good at, but it also accumulates what my connections endorse. I also have a skills page on my website where I've listed the skills I've gotten paid for.
With this mix of LinkedIn skills, those listed on the website, and those I've self-identified with, this is the list I've ended up with:
I'm good at writing, illustration, digital marketing, drinking coffee, editing photos, learning new things, finishing projects, strategizing, and research.
What are you good at?
What Do I Love?
Everyone has something that they love whether it's a hobby or just something that passes the time and brings joy to their daily lives. Over the past few months, I've noticed that when someone asked me "what do you do for fun?" I didn't have much of an answer.
This isn't because I don't do anything fun or because I'm working every waking hour, like I originally thought. After some reflection, I came to the conclusion it was more because I haven't been allowing myself to discover what I love to do. In other words, I enjoy binge-watching Netflix shows and playing some Minecraft (hey, it's totally a creative outlet, right?), but that was about the extent of it.
I needed to narrow down what I love into a list of activities that truly bring me joy. This ended up looking something like the following:
I love reading, playing games, drinking coffee, traveling, going on adventures, trying new things, enjoying art & design, and discovering great writing talent (AKA being inspired!).
What do you love to do?
What Are My Challenges?
When I originally drafted this blog post, the plan was just to focus on the topics above: What I'm known for, what I'm good at, and what I love. In the end, that will help me discover my niche, right?
The thing is, as I wrote up my lists, I realized I was missing something. While these may be lists of what I'm good at, what about the things I'm not so good at - my challenges and areas for growth?
Earlier this year, as I came up with my resolution, I realized that one of my primary challenges was breaking out of my comfort zone. This especially goes for meeting new people face-to-face and networking; two things that are crucial to becoming a successful marketer. Therefore, this is an area I've been working on for the past few months.
The challenge of breaking out of my comfort zone, mixed with my love for coffee, travel and being inspired are coming together as a project which will allow me to discover, and write in, my niche. I'm excited to explore this project, so stay tuned over the next few weeks to discover what it is!
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Ashley Hoffman is a creative marketing professional who specializes in digital marketing with an emphasis on content marketing. She has experience in the fashion, pet and marketing industries and loves good books, awesome design, and caffeinated hot drinks.
Find her on Twitter: @ashhmarketing