Identifying your niche market

Ok, so you've heard it all before - pick a niche market, narrow your niche, what's your niche market? Whilst your whole being is crying out, 'Why do I need to pick a niche?', 'Surely if I choose a narrow niche market I could miss out on business from elsewhere?'

The truth is if you cast your net too wide then you are actually more likely to miss out on business. How so?

Developing a niche market ensures that you are an expert in your field and can form a memorable identity for your network of contacts. If you are very clear and specific about who you are, what you do and who you do it for then it is easy for your contacts to understand, and perhaps more importantly remember, you when they are in contact with someone who could generate some business for you.

For example, if your clients want their oven cleaned do they call out a general cleaning company or do they ring a specialist oven cleaning service? If your clients are having repairs done to their roof do they call a 'Jack-Of-All-Trades' or a specialist roof repair contractor?
What do you notice about the expectations of the choices above? Some of your clients may very well plump for the cleaning company or 'Jack-Of-All-Trades' but what is the compromise?....


You expect to pay less for a generalised service than an expert one, so by becoming an expert in your niche, you can also command an appropriate fee.

Remember, clients buy a service on the basis of KNOW, LIKE and TRUST. If they know, like and trust you they will hire you regardless of your chosen niche.

How do I choose my niche?

Choosing your niche market can be quite daunting but if you ask yourself the following questions you will be onto a great start.

What do you know about? Can you talk the same language as your target market? - it's important to be knowledgeable enough in your chosen market to be able to make your prospective client feel comfortable and confident in your abilities.

Do you like the people in your proposed niche? - there's not much point in choosing a niche market where the clients are potentially people that you do not like, it will certainly make developing rapport a challenge! In all seriousness though, you have the freedom to choose the clients that you work with.

Here are some other very useful questions to work through when identifying your niche market:

- If you could do something all day long, every day, what would it be?
- What subject would you choose to write a ‘How-to’ book about?
- If you had to write a series of 12 booklets, what topics would you choose and how would they compliment each other?
- What are some of the challenges you have faced, and overcome, in your life?
- Who, specifically, would benefit from your experiences?

How do I know when my niche is narrow enough?

If you can say I am ______, I do ______ for ______. without getting tongue-tied, then you've probably cracked it.

I have spoken with many service business owners about Niche Marketing and their response to early attempts to describe their niche would be something along the lines of:

- 'My niche market is Corporate.' Or
- 'My niche is Proofreading’, or
- 'My niche market is Copywriting.'

That leaves out the most important part of the 10 second introduction which is who you serve. Your prospective clients will be much better equipped to see the benefits of your service if they don't have to spend a lot of time imagining the type of client that you work with. Then they will imagine people they know experiencing your service and thus associate you with them.

What about the other business that I'm not getting?

You are actually unlikely to miss out on business as you will come across clearly and confidently to your network. This in turn develops trust which as we already know, is key to marketing a service. In fact, marketed correctly, clients will be grateful that you have diverted from your field of expertise to work with them.

What if I want to have more than one niche?

If you are confident of being able to read people well you can have many niches but my advice would be to only address one at a time until an opening arises for you to discuss your other interests. Keep each niche narrow and specific to whom you are speaking with at the time.
e.g. 'I am Joe Bloggs and I am a freelance journalist for the Science, Engineering & Technology sector.' 'I am Joe Bloggs and I provide Copywriting Services for Web Developers.' 'I am Joe Bloggs and I edit essays, dissertations and theses for students.'

It is entirely feasible for Joe Bloggs to be able to provide a quality service in each of the above areas, however if Joe were to blurt out all of the above, what impression would you get?

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1st April 2008

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