We’ve all been there.
Either you’ve been plugging away on a topic that’s too broad, or you’re incredibly focused on something that’s not making money.
It’s not a fun place to be. However, this is entrepreneurship and it’s all part of the process.
But processes can be simplified. That’s why you’re here.
We’ve developed a simple exercise that will walk you through specific questions, helping you identify the niche that’s right for you.
So without further ado, get out a paper and pen. We’re about to make a bunch of lists.
Part 1: Brainstorming and Listing Interests
On a piece of paper, start working through these 5 questions. These questions will help you organize what you enjoy, how you prefer to be paid, and areas where you provide value to others.
Question 1: What products and services do you currently spend money on?
- Beachbody OnDemand, Dungeons & Dragons, Spotify, Restaurants, Coffee, Beer, Skiing, Crave TV, Canadian Tire, RW&Co Mens Apparel, Facebook Advertising, Fiverr, Upwork, Business Books, Cineplex
Question 2: What are your passions? What activities, hobbies, sports, video games and activities (including work activities) do you enjoy?
- Becoming a better skier, learning to sail, exercising, becoming a better Rocket League player, being a better Dungeons & Dragons dungeon master, drinking good tasting coffee, having after-work beers with my friends, spending time with my family, creating ads that meet my audience’s interests, helping businesses grow, helping businesses improve their operations, helping businesses create content people love, writing about business.
Question 3: Look at Your Resume or LinkedIn Profile. What elements of past experiences did you enjoy? Are there things you could help those businesses with now, given you’ve moved on and gained experience doing more things?
- Airport marketing, international marketing, e-commerce, business intelligence, marketing operations, marketing campaigns, search engine optimization, social media.
Question 4: In the best case scenario, what would your dream business be? How would you ideally make money?
- Writing thought-provoking content that helps my readers achieve their goals. I would not want to work with clients. I would like to work with a small team of people and not grow into a large enterprise. I would enjoy traveling to different locations to experience other business processes, writing reviews and takeaways for my online audience.
Question 5: What’s your job right now? What do you enjoy most about it?
- I’m an MBA student and a full-time marketing manager. I really enjoy my MBA courses because they’re helping me understand another dimension of business that relates to marketing, economic development. These classes help me understand ways I can include more community-conscious programs in my day-to-day marketing. At work, I really enjoy the team-building activities we do. I also enjoy working on projects with other people and teams, achieving a common goal.
Part 2: Refining Your Lists and Check Profit Potential, and Identify Your Niche
In this part of the exercise, we’re going to narrow down our passions and look at each list-item in a business capacity.
Step 1: Identifying Your Passion Areas
From your lists, we want to narrow down the things you’re deeply passionate about.
A good way to work through this step is to look at your list and ask “how much do I really care about _____ and why?”. Your reasons why don’t need to be complex. Just list the short version of what comes to your mind.
Try to narrow down your list to 5 passion areas.
From the exercise, my 5 passion areas were:
- Dungeons & Dragons (helps me practice storytelling and being creative)
- Helping Businesses Grow (helps me make people less stressed)
- Writing (helps me build my profile and position myself as a thought leader)
- Creating Business Content People Enjoy (helps me connect business interests to community interests)
- Rocket League (games are short and I enjoy flying for the ball)
Step 2: Check the Profit Potential of Your Passions
How do people currently make money in your passion area? Do they have a list of sponsors? Host events? Work with clients? Sell products on Amazon?
Examine how each of your passion areas make money.
- Go to Amazon and search for your passion topic. What pattern do you see?
- Head to Google and search for your passion topic. What patterns exist?
- Search for your topic on YouTube. What patterns do you see?
In a lot of cases, your passion area will make sense. Writers sell books. Marketers work in agencies.
Step 3: Your Niche Revealed
Which passion would you thoroughly enjoy doing as a job?
In this step, you want to look at each passion area and its revenue streams (from the previous step) and consider which area most aligns with your interests of what you’d be doing day-to-day.
- Would I really enjoy going full-time with Rocket League and becoming a pro-gamer? Not really.
- Would I really enjoy helping businesses grow, working with clients, complaints, and ongoing competition? Sounds profitable, but something I’d eventually hate.
- Would I thoroughly enjoy creating business related content that people enjoy? Yes.
Once hitting that yes moment, you’ve identified the right niche for you.
You can even start to borrow from other passion areas and create your own custom niche.
For example, I enjoy helping businesses grow but don’t want to take on a lot of clients. Where my interests are in writing and creating business content, opportunity shines to reveal that I could write blog posts about certain industries or fields.
Furthermore, now that I know I don’t want to work with clients, I can focus on the activities I do enjoy to make progress towards my revenue goals.
Part 3: Choosing a Niche Inside Your Niche
While narrowing down your selected niche further isn’t necessary, it can help you refine the vibe, feeling, and messaging for your community.
There are 2 ways to identify your niche within a niche:
- You decide what it’s going to be and choose it
- You start creating content and let the data tell you what your deeper niche is
Coming out and choosing your inner niche isn’t a bad thing. You could decide you want to start a digital marketing blog for comic book fans. That makes your messaging and images very easy to create. Imagine advertising a blog post with a featured image designed like a comic book cover. The targeting would be easy too; interested in comic books AND digital marketing.
See, it becomes more clear.
The other way is by creating content and letting data decide your inner niche (a longer approach).
I took the long-way of creating content. I started my first blog in 2014 writing about entrepreneurship. Through years of iteration and refining my craft, I’ve come to build an audience that is:
- Predominantly men between the ages of 25-34 who have an undergraduate degree
- Who work as young marketing managers or startup founders
- Who enjoy spending time and money on professional development activities such as reading, attending conferences, and taking online courses
- That also passively judge websites and people by their experience, education, website design, and writing quality,
These insights helped me create what is now Marketing Qualified. We value the production process of our blog posts, podcasts, and videos. We write in a personalized way that is to-the-point and professional. We always source our research and use high-quality images and licensed music for our content. We know our audience is smart, so we avoid lazy writing tactics such as ghost-writing and speech-writing.
It’s not as sexy as a Dragonball Z styled marketing blog, but it works for me and my personal brand.
So what did you arrive at? What niche are you going to dominate? How do you want to make money? What products and services will you need to scope out for your business?
All of these aspects should be revealed by the end of the above exercise.
Whether you’re going to focus on an industry (festivals), function-based niche (SEO), or an interest-based niche (finance for Pokemon fans), I hope you have clarity on the direction and emphasis of your business.
I wish you the very best. Feel free to connect with me if you have any questions.
- We didn’t mention or reference any businesses in this article. If you think there’s a company we should highlight, please let us know by contacting us.
- We didn’t mention or reference the work of anyone in this article. If you think there’s someone we should highlight, please let us know by contacting us.
- There were no academic sources listed in this article. The tips and advice mentioned in this post came strictly from our marketing experience over the years helping startups, small businesses, and large enterprises build and engage their audience.
Subscribe to the Marketing Qualified Blog
Join 1,086 other marketers on the journey to MQL and business success.