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I’ve been feeling like a rookie freelancer all over again.
It’s because I decided to get into a different freelancing niche. Let me tell you, it’s been difficult, slow going, exciting, unnerving, energizing and mind boggling all at the same time.
My Niche Journey
Sometime last year, I became restless and wanted to focus on working with a specific type of business and industry only. Since then, I’ve had a few false starts… and made a little progress.
By false starts, I mean I thought I had identified the perfect niche for me. I even registered a domain name so I could create a landing page targeted to that niche — only to change my mind after a few weeks.
Then finally, after several months of research, prayer and just waiting for inspiration, I decided on a niche. Almost as soon as I did that, I started getting a trickle of new projects from the identified niche. God, I take that to mean “Yes!”
Finding projects in the new niche has encouraged me to keep going, but I realize I still have a ton of work to do to make sure the trickle turns into a gushing river.
In this post, I’d like to share with you what I’ve been doing to get a foothold in this new market. I hope these ideas can help you to gain a strong presence in your own market, too.
Breaking Into A New Market
One of the most important aspects of market research is discovering their watering holes. Where do your ideal clients hang out?
It doesn’t make sense for me to use all my energy trying to get my ideal clients to read my blog, or connect with me in social networks. I need to go where they already are.
So far, I’ve been doing this by attending live events and being more active specific social networks. I’ve discovered that my new ideal clients are quite active in LinkedIn, a social network I had previously not been active in.
That’s changing now. I’ve been joining relevant LinkedIn groups and connecting with people (those who fit my profile of the ideal client and those who are influential to my ideal clients). I’m setting aside Friday afternoons to be active in group discussions and submit some useful answers. I may even create my own group (we’ll see about that!).
The important thing is to listen and find out what my new ideal clients’ pain, problems, and predicaments are, and what types of solutions they’re looking for. I also have my eyes open for their most frequently-asked questions in my field, how they work with freelancers, and what areas I can be most useful in.
Because the niche I want to work in is quite different from what I’m used to, I need to learn more about it. I’ve been doing this with the help of:
I’m reading books to help me gain a general knowledge of my new niche. I’m also reading other books that help me bridge what I do know (the strategies) to what this market needs (how to apply those strategies in this niche).
Blogs are much easier to consume than books, and can be just as helpful. Along with books, blogs are also great for identifying and connecting with influential people in this new niche.
Because my new niche requires a different kind of copywriting, I invested in a couple of training courses. I used one like a Bible when I had my first client in this niche. (By the way, if you’re looking for high-quality training courses for freelancers, I highly recommend the ones by American Writers & Artists Inc.)
Now that I have better knowledge about my new niche, I’m in the testing mode. I’m trying out promotional materials and buzz pieces, to see which ones will generate the best response.
What’s Your Experience?
Were you previously a generalist who then decided to specialize? Or have you ever switched from one niche to another?
How did YOU do it? And how long did it take for you to feel comfortable and confident in that niche?
I’d love to hear about your experience, and any advice you may have for me and other readers. Post a comment below.
photo credit: Ian Sane