For those who want to launch a service, whether it’s dog walking or digital marketing, it helps to have a niche so that you can speak to exactly the needs of the people you want to help. Having a niche means that you’re focused squarely on the needs of a particular group of customers.
How important is it to niche down? Check out this episode from Side Hustle Nation on the subject of choosing a niche for your side hustle.
Now, let’s say that you want to start a side hustle as a dog walker. Your niche would be the neighborhoods you can easily serve, neighbors who live close enough to you that you’d be able to walk dogs before or after work. When you begin advertising your services on Craigslist or through social media, you can clearly define your niche by outlining the streets you’re targeting—this way, there isn’t any question about who you’re trying to serve.
What if you want to launch another kind of service, something like virtual assistance, freelance writing, or digital marketing? With respect to these kinds of services, having a niche serves two purposes.
First, choosing a niche that you know well (something that you have significant experience with) makes it much easier for you to launch a side hustle. If you are a nurse, for example, it will be easier for you to focus on working with medical offices than to work with law offices.
Second, the target customers in your niche will know exactly who you serve when they read your ads or visit your website. There won’t be any question in the minds of your potential clients about who you serve and the service(s) you provide. Having a niche clearly defined makes it easy for your clients to understand who you are, what you do, and if the relationship will be a good fit.
Doctors will be looking for freelancers who have experience working with doctors…
Attorneys will be looking for freelancers who have experience working in law…
and so on.
When you’re choosing your niche, start with your internship and work experiences. What industries have you worked in? Which industries have you enjoyed most? Those are the industries to put on the short list of “niches to consider.”
Once you have your short list of niches, start searching for local businesses in those industries. Which businesses appeal to you most? Which ones would you like to serve? Do you have any prior experience working with these businesses or similar types of businesses?
Choose one industry, one small business and start from there; you can also add more industries businesses later, but since this is a side hustle, I recommend that you start as narrow as possible and choose one ideal client.
When I started side hustling, I made the mistake of NOT having a niche. Consequently, I’ve worked with organizations large and small; these clients helped me gain significant experience in a variety of industries (and gain lots of referrals to other clients, too).
This year, I’m working to niche down and focus on one industry. When your service has the potential to help everyone, it makes it difficult to commit to a niche, so you might be tempted to help anyone who calls. (Guilty!). Overall, having a niche makes it easier to grow your side hustle because you start from a place of strength, a place of experience, a place of passion…it’s much easier to stay focused with a niche.
In fact, you might even consider going so far as to have a micro-niche. Consider this TEDxTampa Bay talk from Kevin Jans who advocates for micro-niches to help cut through the noise online. His talk discusses having a niche for your podcasts, but his core message applies to anyone who wants to start a service-focused side hustle.