AMY PORTERFIELD: “When someone says. ‘What does she do?’ meaning you, or ‘What does he do?’ what do you want them to say? That's how you can start to niche down a little bit more. The more general, the less likely they'll look to you when they have a very specific need.”
INTRO: I’m Amy Porterfield, ex-corporate girl turned CEO of a multi-million-dollar business. But it wasn't all that long ago that I lacked the confidence, money, and time to focus on growing my small-but-mighty business. Fast forward past many failed attempts and lessons learned, and you'll see the business I have today, one that changes lives and gives me more freedom than I ever thought possible, one that used to only exist as a daydream. I created the Online Marketing Made Easy podcast to give you simple, actionable, step-by-step strategies to help you do the same. If you're an ambitious entrepreneur, or one in the making, who's looking to create a business that makes an impact and helps you create a life you love, you're in the right place. Let's get started.
AMY: It doesn't matter if you say “nitch” or “niche;” what really matters is that you identify your niche and understand how you’re going to serve your audience within that niche in the biggest way possible. Holy cow. I just said “niche” three times, and I'm not stopping there because that's what today's episode is all about. But imagine if we were playing a drinking game every time I said “niche” in this episode, you, my friend, would be drunk because we are getting down to business.
Before I take you through an actionable, tangible, step-by-step process for finally identifying your niche once and for all, I have to address the elephant in the room. There is a fear of actually choosing a niche. I see it all the time, and I hear about it in my Online Marketing Made Easy Facebook group. The bummer is that for many entrepreneurs, especially those just starting out, the fear of choosing one niche is enough to stay stuck in decision paralysis.
My good friend James Wedmore said it best: Choosing the wrong niche is better than choosing no niche at all. Now I know my audience, so I know that you, right now, might be thinking, “Holy cow, Amy. Wait a second. Are you crazy? I cannot choose the wrong niche. That will send me down a crazy road.” And I hear you, friend.
Now, if you're multitasking, come back to me, because what I'm about to say is very important. You might choose the wrong niche right from the start. And that's okay because it will at least get you moving forward, and forward action means progress and clarity. I work with a lot of entrepreneurs, and I'm here to tell you that choosing the wrong niche will point you in the right direction for choosing the right one down the road. Trust me on this one.
So, for example, my first niche was actually all about social media. I mean, I coauthored a book about it, and I created a course about social media. However, over time, I realized the better fit for me in terms of a niche was in digital courses, webinars, and list building. If I hadn't declared social media as my niche and allowed myself to move forward, I may not have gathered the info and insight and feedback from my audience to move me towards the niche that I'm in today, the niche that has grown my business to eight figures.
Now, on the flip side, you might choose one and stick with it for the entirety of your entrepreneurial life. And that's wonderful, too. Either way, there is a decision and a movement, and that's all that matters right now.
So today's step-by-step approach will help you get hyper clear and identify your niche. So get ready to do the work, put pen to paper, and commit to doing everything we talk about so that by the time you're done with these steps, you'll feel confident and clear about your niche.
To help you do so, I've put together a really cool free resource that you can print out and use as you follow along with the four steps. And I'm going to go into a lot of detail, so you'll want to go grab it. Amyporterfield.com/311. Print it out, and then you can fill in some notes and fill in the blanks as I dive into each of the fours steps.
All right. Are you ready to do this? Let's go for it.
Step one is all about identifying your overall market. This is almost like your umbrella market. So here are the ones we usually tell our students to think about: finance; health, wellness, and beauty; lifestyle; education; love, connection, and relationships; entrepreneurship; and spiritual development. Now, notice how broad these are. Don't worry. We're going to get way more specific within those areas. But I wanted you to start out by thinking that big.
So do you deal with investments? Great. That one would be finance. Pet grooming—lifestyle. Closet makeovers—also lifestyle. Do you help teachers with curriculums or teach kids how to increase their SAT scores? Education. How about food prep? That would be health, wellness, and beauty. If you're not sure where your niche falls, just take an educated guess. I want you to grab your free PDF resource and check the box next to whichever overall market you most cater to. Now, this is going to come in handy down the road, when you start collaborating and writing copy and understanding your audience pain points. That's why I just want you to take an educated guess if you're not really sure.
Now, once you choose the overall market, I want you to move on to step two. This is where we're going to zoom in a bit and get more specific, or what is also known as niching down. Before you even say it, I just know what you're thinking. “But Amy, if I get too specific, I'll lose out on so many people wanting to buy from me.” I'm going to debunk that belief.
I want you to think about someone you admire. Have you ever read a social-media post they shared or listened to a video or a podcast of theirs and thought, “She is speaking directly to me”? Well, that's because that person niched down, and they discovered exactly who they're serving and speaking to. If that person was more vague and generalized everything they said because they didn't want to “miss out on a sale,” then I think you and I both know you wouldn't have felt that intimate connection. The truth behind, if you're speaking to everyone, you're speaking to no one, still stands true. Keep that in mind as we move through this step.
Also, remember that by niching down, you are identifying and positioning yourself as an expert about one specific thing. Think of it this way. If you needed an eye procedure, would you go to a general medicine doctor just because they are in the medical field? No, of course you wouldn’t. You'd go to an eye surgeon because they are the expert. Do you see where I'm going with this? The clearer you are about your expertise, your offer, your niche, the less your audience will have to think, and the easier it will be for them to make a decision to work with or buy from you. You can't become the go-to person in a niche if you don't niche down.
For example, my friend Kris Carr is known as the go-to wellness advocate, especially for plant-based living and preventing cancer. If she thought, “I don't want to lose out on sales if I get too specific, so I'll just say I'm a health advocate,” that wouldn’t have set her up as an expert, because it's too broad.
For me, I give business owners, educators, and entrepreneurs profitable action steps to create and sell digital courses. What if I would have said, “I'm just a business expert,” you'd have a hard time understanding exactly what I could help you with, right? Plus, what if I added, “I also do social media and building your website and do video marketing,” now you feel overwhelmed and probably would already be looking for a mentor who is more specific and caters to your needs.
So let's get started on your list. And it's in the worksheet. So here are a few examples. If you are in the health industry, you could list things such as bodybuilding or cancer recovery or green juices or veganism. Once you have your list, you're going to circle the ones that really light you up. Let's pretend that you circled green juices. I’d take it a little further. I'd ask, okay, well, what about green juices lights you up? Do you have a unique approach to how you make your green juice? Maybe you make delicious juices with minimal ingredients, or that you've honed in on how to make juices in record time with less mess and a hassle. Amen to that. You should see me in my kitchen when I try to make a green juice. It’s like the whole kitchen has exploded. So you have to get more specific.
And I couldn't talk about niching down without giving one of my students a huge shout out—she's been on the show before—danelle German. Now, the reason I need to give her a shout out is that she niched down and ended up generating around $12,000 monthly. Danelle teaches pet groomers how to groom cats. Seriously. That's how specific she is. She got over her fear of niching down, listened to what her audience really needed, provided a solution to their pain point, became the go-to cat-grooming expert, and as a result, completely transformed the financial state and success of her business.
Take it from entrepreneurs who have gone before you. Niching down and getting hyper specific is going to be one of your greatest contributions to the growth of your business. And before I go on, I want to give you a little peace of mind. As you work your way through the worksheet, don't expect to have this all figured out. Remember what I said in the beginning. You're going to make some decisions because decisions get you into action and action leads to clarity.
And it wasn’t overnight I knew what I was going to do in my niche. Remember I said I started by teaching social media, and then I got a little bit more specific—I niched down to teach just Facebook—and then I decided I'm only teaching social media and Facebook specifically, to people that want to create digital courses or have online businesses. And so I, at one point, stopped teaching people how to use Facebook if they had a brick and mortar, or I stopped taking clients who had physical products. So I would only help people that had online businesses, online courses, online coaching, because I knew that was my area of expertise, and I could help them the most. This eventually morphed into me only teaching people how to create digital courses. And of course with that, comes list building and webinars and a little bit of social media. So it's not like I can't go into other areas, but at the end of the day, when someone says, “Well, what does Amy Porterfield do?” I hope people say, “She helps people build digital businesses by creating online courses.” I hope it's pretty specific like that. And so don't think that this means you can never teach anything or never talk about anything again. But when someone says, “What does she do?” meaning you, or “What does he do?” what do you want them to say? That's how you can start to niche down a little bit more. The more general, the less likely they'll look to you when they have a very specific need.
Okay, my friend, once you decide on your overall market, and you get a little more clarity around your area of expertise, it's time for step three. Step number three is to do some market research. I want you to spend a little time on Google and YouTube to gather some insight into the size of the audience looking for what you have to offer. Starting with Google, type your niche specification in the search bar and see what comes up. Now, these are some of the most popular searches that will come up, so take note of what you're seeing.
So, for example, if I search for “easy green juices, minimal ingredients,” I see words like “three ingredients” and “simple” and “beginner.” If you scroll down, you'll see a section that says “searches related to easy green juices, minimal ingredients.” This can also be helpful for showing you other popular topics that people are searching for within your niche.
Now, take that same search to YouTube and see what videos come up. You should start to see a pattern of words that keep showing up. That tells you a lot about what's popular in your niche, so pay close attention there. When you take the search to YouTube, you'll also be able to see how many views each video has gotten. Now, with this specific search, I'm seeing that there is most definitely an audience for this, and the most popular videos all seem to have the same words that we saw before, like “beginner” and “simple” and “three ingredients.”
So when you start doing these searches, you should be identifying patterns that you're seeing, things that are popular within your niche. You might see that something you thought would be popular is not, and that’s guidance as well. So if you do a search and nothing comes up or very minimal, you got to ask yourself, is there really a need for this? Are people actually searching for this? Do they want this? So pay close attention here.
Another market-research action item is to talk to other industry experts. So this allows you to talk to those who are already in your niche and hear from them firsthand about what they're seeing in the industry, who they love to learn from, what skills are they finding most valuable in order to see success, and what feedback their customers are giving them as well. So you can do this at different conferences. You can get on calls with people. You can have chats in different groups. Get creative here.
Now, these points of research can be very eye-opening. Remember how I mentioned if you do a search and there's nothing that comes up, well, that might tell you that there isn't a demand. Don't get discouraged. That is really great information.
Now, you might want to be first to market. There's a lot of risks there, a lot of headache, and I don't recommend it for first-time entrepreneurs. But I can't say that to everybody or we'd never have anything new in this world, right? So, you know your threshold of taking risks and trying new things, so you do whatever feels best. But typically, if you're looking for something that there's already a demand and you do a search and you don't find much, that is a red flag. And if that’s the case, and you don’t want to be first to market, don’t give up. Just take this opportunity to dive a little deeper and look for a new angle or a new approach to your expertise.
Now, as you're talking with other industry leaders, ask yourself, how can I do this differently? You might not want to be first to market, but you definitely want to stand out inside of your niche. So how could you take a different approach? Or how are they missing the mark? Or how can you be unique? Or how can you talk about it in a way that might be a little polarizing or set you apart from everybody else? Just some questions to think about.
Spanx is a great example of this. Spanx owner, Sara Blakely, simply identified how other brands were missing the mark in her industry, which led her to her niche. She noticed that there wasn't an undergarment for women that left them feeling confident and comfortable and seamless, and so she filled that void with her product.
So I challenge you to Spanx your industry. Step back and see how you can fill the void.
Moving on to the final step, step number four, you're going to create your value-articulator statement. Now, this concept comes from my sweet, sweet friend Mel Abraham. He's a bestselling business author and founder of Business Breakthrough Academy and Thoughtpreneur Academy. And this one exercise is going to help you pull everything that you've worked on up until this point into a concise and clear statement. So this value-articulator statement is extremely helpful in identifying your niche because it helps you to identify what problem you're solving, who you're serving, and how you're helping them achieve the results they desire.
So if you're a “fill in the blank” kind of girl or if you loved Mad Libs back in the day—am I totally dating myself?— you're going to love this because it makes it really simple to figure out this statement on your first try. But to help you, I've put it into the PDF resource. So make sure you grab that resource so you can see exactly how I lay it out, even though I'm going to say it here. Again, amyporterfield.com/311 in order to go download the PDF for this specific episode.
Okay, so here it is. “I help blank,” that's your who, “do blank,” that's your what, “so that blank,” that's your results, “unlike blank” insert any alternative result if necessary, “because blank,” and finally, that's your distinction or your why.
Now, I know it sounds very weird when I say it in an episode. Go get the download. I want you to fill this in. And you might not even think you have the answers, but you do. And remember, we're making some educated guesses as decisions so that we can keep moving forward. And remember what I said: My niche has developed over time. But if I didn't make decisions eight, nine years ago, I wouldn't be where I am today.
To help you out, I went ahead and filled in the blanks for my own business so that you can see an example. And I didn't use the part where it says “insert any alternative result.” So that doesn't really fit for my business, and it might not for yours either, so just ignore that if it doesn't. But here's what I said. “I help entrepreneurs create digital-course businesses so that they can build a sustainable business online, because a digital-course business is the single most-powerful and strategic way to make an impact in the world while growing your income and freedom to life-changing levels.” So I really went with the why because I know why I do what I do. So I really built that out. And again, we'll put this in the PDF so you can see my example. But really, it's entrepreneurs is my who; my what is helping people create digital-course businesses, and the result is to create a sustainable business online, and then my why is where I feel really passionate because I know that it's the single most-powerful and strategic way to make an impact in the world while growing your income and freedom to life-changing levels. So that is mine. And now it's your turn.
Take a stab at writing your value-articulator statement. Don't get frustrated if it doesn't flow the first time. Keep playing around with it, and the words will start to feel a little bit better. It will never be perfect. Who cares? We're not going for perfection here. The most important thing is you just start to get more clarity and courage around specifying your niche.
Now, once you do the work and figure out your niche, or at least you do the best you can and you just go with what you’ve got right now, it's time to celebrate. It means you never have to start from scratch on figuring out your niche, and it means that you're not stuck. You're moving forward. That is worth celebrating.
Now, as you start to test out your niche, you'll know that you've nailed it when you start to hear, “Oh, my gosh, you just read my mind. You are speaking directly to me. How did you know I was thinking that?” Boom. You nailed it. So just wait for it. It will come. Maybe not tomorrow, maybe not even in six months, but down the road, you, my friend, will start to hear it. And dang, it feels good.
So here's the thing. We just covered a lot in this episode. And if you'd like a bonus step, I want you to head on over to the show notes for this episode, amyporterfield.com/311, and grab the free resource, the worksheet that helps you make your way through all of the four steps, plus a bonus action item that you don't want to miss.
Okay, so let's do a quick review. Step one, you identify your overall market. Step two, niche down within that market to the best of your ability. Step three, do your market research. Step four, create your value-articulator statement. Oh, and again, don't forget to celebrate. Identifying your niche, even in the early stages, even in experimentation, is so, so worth it. So do the work.
And before you head out, I'd love to hear from you. I would be so grateful if you left me a review, and if you love this podcast, a five-star rating wherever you listen to podcasts. It would mean the world to me, so thank you in advance for the extra effort.
All right. I'm going to see you same time, same place next week. Make it a great week. Bye for now.