Earlier this year, it was time to do taxes, and I was stressed out. It was my first year combining self-employment taxes with regular W-2 taxes and, like many other creative entrepreneurs, I had no idea what I was doing.
I spent hours searching on Google for the best tips for freelancers. Then, as soon as I thought I understood what I was doing, I would read something else that confused me all over again.
I threw my hands in the air. I felt my breath quicken and my chest tighten up. My head was spinning and I just could not think straight. Why do taxes have to be so damn complicated?
Fed up, I searched in Google for "Seattle CPA for freelancers". I figured someone who was based in Seattle and worked specifically with freelancers would understand exactly what I was going through and know the best way to help me out.
I scoured the search results, trying to find someone who matched what I was looking for. Yet, out of the first five pages of results, I only found one company who fit my criteria: and they were priced way too high for me at the time.
Eventually, I ended up giving up, signing up for TurboTax Self-Employed, and doing it myself. I was able to figure it out, but it took me hours of frustration, pain, and wasted time I could have spent on building my biz instead.
All because I couldn't find a Seattle-based CPA who specializes in freelancers.
Realize you're missing out on opportunities
Many business owners are scared to narrow themselves down into a niche because they're afraid they're going to limit their potential audience. After all, in my case, women are only half the population, right?
But how many people are passing you up because you don't specialize in exactly what they're looking for?
Here's the thing: if you're marketing to everyone, you're not marketing to anyone.
Let's pretend you're a graphic designer who takes on any client, no matter what industry they're in. if someone's searching for a graphic designer in the pet industry, they're not going to find you because you're a "graphic designer for everyone."
You won't come up in the search results, you won't stand out from the competition, and you'll have a harder time convincing your potential client you understand their space and their unique challenges.
Figure out what you're passionate and knowledgeable about
Okay, so now you're ready to niche down. But how do you even begin figuring out what to narrow down on?
First, start by listing all the industries you have experience working in or are interested in.
Then, cross out any that don't inspire you. Ask yourself: could I see myself becoming an expert in my space within this industry?
As you're doing this, take your search to Google and research competitors who are in your space. Using the previous example, you could type in "pet industry graphic designers" and see who pops up. Ask yourself what you have to offer that can make you stand out from them.
While you're at it, start doing some research to understand the industry. Try to figure out what challenges the industry is currently facing and note the pros and cons to working inside it.
If you have experience working in this industry, you will have a better idea of the ins and outs. You may also have a number of contacts you can reach out to who may help you find potential clients in that space.
On the other hand, if it's an industry you're simply curious about and interested in exploring, simply begin doing work for companies in it. If you're a graphic designer, create a few logos based on companies in that industry. If you're an event planner, consider what kinds of events people put on in that space.
Now that you have your industry narrowed down, take a look at your service offerings. It's tempting to want to be everything to everyone, but there may be an opportunity to narrow down your services to a few specialties.
For example, instead of offering generic digital marketing services, I specialize in brand strategy, content marketing, and copywriting. Basically, I focus on anything required to tell an effective brand story.
This way, I don't compete with generic digital marketers. I stand out because I specialize in a few services that I've gotten really good at.
Tailor your message to your niche
Now that you have narrowed down your niche, it's time to target all your messaging to them.
As you're doing this, keep your buyer persona at the top of your mind. Ask yourself: what are their biggest challenges? What industry-specific struggles are they going through right now?
Then, address those challenges directly. I've found that both women-owned and creative businesses are often underestimated and undervalued. As such, I've made it my mission to help give this niche a voice and make their value clear up front so they can expand their impact on their audience and form deeper connections with their customers.
Deciding to niche down can be scary and anxiety-inducing. As you're going through the process, you may have thoughts running through your head such as, "you're limiting yourself," and "no one in this industry needs that."
But keep pushing through. Make your message clear as day. Convince your industry and your audience that you're the best person for the job because their work is all you do.
The first step to focusing on a niche for your creative business is identying your ideal buyer persona. I've created a free worksheet designed to help you do just that which you can download here!