It was about time I weigh in on something that always comes up in DM's or Emails from you guys, especially ones just starting out in their chosen field. The argument of niches. Niches are products or services that are created for a particular sub-set of society. On the creator side of things though it could be seen as a comfort zone for you, or a expertise as one particular thing. So then the question posed is, do you specialise in a niche market or will that shut you off from mass market opportunities and which is better?
Let's start by looking at the good old Pros & Cons List...
~ You are able to really focus on your particular craft or market and become an expert at doing so
~ Since you know who your audience is, you are able to directly cater to them instead of casting your net far and wide
~ Because you are constantly producing similar projects, you will have greater knowledge of how long things take and what you can charge.
~ When you become highly skilled in one area, you will become a lot more efficient with your work process therefore have more time to take on more projects.
~ You are less likely to get lost in the crowd. There are so many graphic designers, photographers, stylists, you're work being unique to you gives you a point of difference. Instead of you approaching clients they will be approaching you for your unique skill.
~ You have the possibility to be pigeonholed and miss out on other work opportunities.
~ What ever your niche is might lose its popularity and you're unique service may be no longer required.
~ If you are constantly being asked to do the same type of work you may end up resenting it due to the lack of creativity it brings you.
~ If successful in your niche, you can open yourself up to copycats that imitate your every move with your audience and your clients.
~ There is such a thing as too niche. If you're not getting any clients or your audience is decreasing / becoming stagnant you may want to re-adjust it.
So what do you do? I think early on I realised I was creating my own niche because I didn't fit solely into any of the other titles
like Typographer, Graphic Designer, Blogger, Photographer etc. Being all of those things got me noticed and approached by clients I still pinch myself about but I also somewhat felt the negative side effects of that. I got a lot of lettering work and started to feel a little like a machine just pumping out pretty words with no meaning, I also still to this day have people imitating every move I make.
I changed how I think about my 'niche' though. I now think of it as expressing who I am through whatever I want to do. Just because I was known as a letterer doesn't mean I can't take photos of my dead flowers and sell the prints. Just because I was known as a letterer doesn't mean I can't post about fashion or beauty. Does this dissolve my message or niche? No, I think it strengthens it. It is more now about exploring creative projects in my own way, taking the different mediums and making them mine. That is my 'niche'
Before marketing yourself in a niche, think about what is around you in that same sphere. Think about if there is enough of an audience or cliental to support that niche if it is already crowded. You should also be thinking about what do you bring to that niche that the others in that market don't already bring. From a business perspective there is no reason going into a niche and doing exactly what the others already in that niche are doing.
HOW TO MAKE IT WORK FOR YOU
~ Be consistent with your point of view and messaging. If you are going to explore new mediums make sure that your eye is the constant. This will ensure that no matter what you do, people will know it's yours and you are less likely to lose your audience by doing so.
~ You have to push yourself creatively. If you are happy creating within your niche day in, day out and it important that you make time to work on personal projects that use more of your creativity and let you experiment.
~ Give your clients what they want and what they didn't know they wanted.
~ Stop looking at those around you. There is no comparison.