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When I started putting out articles on The Early Hour, they were all surrounding parenting and early mornings. So that became my ‘niche’. It wasn’t really intentional – I had no plans to later launch online courses and sell to these very same people – but my accidental-niche-crafting was rather useful.
Something else happened, too…
I originally wanted The Early Hour to be for both mums and dads. It felt like there were so many mummy blogs already, and I wanted to do something different. However, I had statistics built into my WordPress website, and soon saw that almost all of my readers were female. So, over the years, I started speaking more to women.
Sometimes, you’ll start out with an idea about who your audience are and what they want but you’ll get it wrong. Or it will shift over time. This is fine, and natural, but requires some flexibility on your part. Rather than mindlessly churning out content that no one wants – look at your stats.
– What’s working and what isn’t?
– Ask your audience what they’d like more (and less) of.
And when you see in the stats that something really isn’t working – let it go. This can be hard. I really wanted to appeal to men too, initially. But I realised that I couldn’t change their online reading habits overnight.
So instead, I decided to become more niche; more focused. Then I could speak directly to my readers: the mums.
This meant that when my book deal came around, and we had to decide whether it would be called The Freelance Parent or The Freelance Mum – we opted for the latter. Not only is a mother’s experience of working around the kids different to a dad’s, but I knew by then that it was women I was reaching and speaking to.
I’d written quite a few articles on The Early Hour about freelancing around my kids – about how hard it was, but also tips for making it work – and this seemed to resonate. The book deal then further narrowed down my ‘offering’.
I became The Freelance Mum.
And when I was commissioned to write freelance journalism articles, that’s what they were about: freelancing around my young family. I talked more about it on social media. And then, when I launched my first online course – about how to do your own PR, as a small business owner – people were interested.
The course sold out in two days and I suspect 100% of those sales were from Instagram.
I’d been talking about doing my own PR for a while. I’d shared successes, like being featured in the Guardian and Grazia. I’d talked about the importance of creating a PR story around you and your business. So the people who read this stuff, and liked it, signed up to the course.
So you might, similarly, start out by sharing different types of content; trying things out. Keep an eye on it to see what resonates and try to create more of that stuff. In time, your following might help you to work out your niche.
For instance, if you’re a coach and have a load of women with kids following you, you might start to specialise in coaching freelance mums, or women looking to return to work after maternity leave.
Or maybe you work in fitness and have lots of younger office workers following you, who do your workout videos on their lunch break. Then that might become your thing.
If you get a group of people who love what you do, and they share it with their peers, you will start to develop a following and it might be lots of people with shared interests and demographics. Once you see this happening, you can play into even more.
Earlier, I mentioned the places you might be sharing content:
Some of these platforms are focused on the image (like Instagram), though there’s always a caption too. Others are more about the words but will be better with an accompanying image (Facebook, Linkedin). So I’ll talk about this under each specific section below.
And I’ll give you some examples of good ‘niche’ content…
With your blog posts, you want to create content that people like and share, and that is within your niche. There are SEO considerations too, but I’ll talk about that a bit later. For now, I will share a few examples of blog posts that make great content because they fit within the niche of the blogger.
And remember, your blog posts don’t have to be written in the first person; you can interview people and this is a great way to get others involved with your website. The person you interview may then go on to share it on their social media platforms, and you then have a bigger reach.
Blog example 1. ‘You need captions for IGTV. Here’s how to do it’
This is a blogpost I wrote on my business blog – annieridout.com/thoughts.
I know that a lot of my followers, and potential customers, are on Instagram. And those in business know that talking to camera is a great way to draw in an audience. But most people don’t use captions. So I created an IGTV video sharing exactly how we add our captions – the most efficient option.
Then I wrote it up as a blog post. This means I benefit from the SEO if people search Google for how to add IGTV captions and come across my post. Also, it’s in-keeping with my blog’s ‘freelance/business’ niche. This is useful information. We did lots of research, and I decided to just give it away.
Blog example 2. Fashion blogger Finlay Fox on clothes for working from home
Emma Paton responded to the coronavirus lockdown by offering ideas for outfits you can wear from home.
This is topical, within her niche and offered a solution/helpful advice for those feeling sluggish and wanting something to focus on that wasn’t the doom and gloom news.
Blog example 3. Juliette Kristine – manifesting coach – on manifesting money
I was breastfeeding my baby in the middle of the night and started thinking about selling this course. I wondered if I could manifest a really good outcome. So I googled: ‘manifest money now’ and found this article near the top of the search on Google.
I read the blog post and it resonated. I then joined Juliette’s mailing list. I got her five-day ‘welcome emails’ and then applied for her to be my coach. I ended up signing up for a three-month programme and paid £1500. This all started with a blogpost. Content matters.
1. A work-life business story
Here’s a post I shared on Instagram that got a lot of engagement. The quote was a good one, and the accompanying story seemed to inspire people…
Stories often do well. Showing others that people can overcome life’s hurdles and make a success of themselves is inspiring. And this was in-keeping with my niche of being a working mum.
2. Anna Jones – @we_are_food – on … food.
Firstly, let’s look at her bio:
It’s immediately clear – from her handle, and the description of Anna and what she does – that food is her thing.
And then let’s look at the image on her feed…
Need I say more? Ok, I will. The captions are also surrounding food: recipes, cooking ideas, cook-alongs.
3. Lucy Werner – @wernchat
Lucy is a freelance PR and runs a business with her husband, Hadrian – a designer. Their content is so good. They give so many tips away. Start juicy, exciting conversations. They share their successes, and also open up about challenges.
Here’s an example of a really good post – you can read the whole thing here. They aren’t overtly selling anything; just sharing a tip for doing your own design. Brilliant.
With all the social media platforms, they are keen to keep users in the app/on the website. So the old trend to add a link to ‘read more’ is now being replaced by standalone posts that offer value.
So if you create a blog post with ‘three tips for finding your ideal client’ – rather than write a short paragraph about it in a LinkedIn post and then linking to your website, you condense it to fit into a LinkedIn post.
Here’s an example…
I wrote a blog post for The Robora. I then edited it down a bit to fit in a LinkedIn post. I also shared it on Instagram. And Facebook – personal profile, and my page for The Robora. One piece of content, no linking elsewhere, repurposed for all the platforms. And no selling – just sharing a story, and an idea. I wanted to get people thinking.
By the way, talking of The Robora – this online business platform I launched in March 2020 – it’s about business, and it’s for women. So I’ve been able to create an Instagram feed that is focused solely on this topic, as is the blog. Also the Facebook page.
Sometimes, when we’re starting out, we try out different things to work out where we fit in. But I’ve really enjoyed launching a new platform and using all I’ve learned about the value of niche content to make sure that this time, there’s no experimentation.
The Robora is all about business. Not about kids. It’s targeted at women. And this feels clear. Guess what? That following is growing pretty quickly, without a huge amount of work. I know what to post, because only relevant ideas pop into my head for that account.
When you know who you are and what you’re offering, people follow for that reason. You quickly learn which posts do well, and you can get into a groove much more quickly than if you start out with just a vague idea about what direction you’re heading in.
People love video content. They can sit back and watch, which feels easier than reading. And IGTV videos are a great way to share tips and advice. They can only be 10 minutes long so they need to be really focused.
You should start out with a clear idea about what you’re talking about. Then write a script – it can be bullet points, if that works better for you then you ad-lib using them as a guide.
Or, you can download the PromptSmart PRO app – a teleprompter/autocue app – (one-off payment of £20) and you can upload your script, then recite it word-for-word from your screen while filming. It’s game-changing, if you make lots of films for online.
Next, you talk into your camera phone. You want a good backdrop, quiet space and to look ‘the part’ yourself.
To share your IGTV video, you need the IGTV app. You download it from the App Store, then link it to your Instagram account. Once your video is uploaded into the IGTV app, you can post it on your Instagram grid.
This is becoming increasingly popular, so get in there. Learn how to do it well and be one of the earlier adopters.
An example of an IGTV video…
I did one on sales. Sharing actual tips for selling. Not just trying to flog one of my own courses/membership schemes. And it got good engagement. You can watch it here.
And, by the way, you should definitely be adding captions to your IGTV videos before uploading. You may have deaf followers, and you will almost certainly have followers who scroll without the sound on. So captions make your videos more accessible, and gets you higher engagement.
Again, with your Facebook page, you want to be sharing stories and ideas. Not just links to your products and services.
Here’s a post I put out recently that did well because, for my audience, is was relatable. It made people feel validated about how hard they were finding lockdown with a baby…
You may look at that post and think: but what does that have to do with your work? What happens with a post like this is that people read it and feel understood. They feel more connected to you, as the person who posted it. Also, there’s a mention of work-life. So it’s within the ‘working mum’ niche.
But, as I keep saying, it’s so important to share with no intention. Because people might find it useful or encouraging. Not because you want them to then buy your course. You want your followers to find your posts really useful, as this is about growing an engaged and loyal community.
I don’t use Medium, as I publish content on my own websites, but there’s some really good stuff on there. For instance, this article Sharmadean Reid wrote about all the business mistakes she made in 2019. She’s hugely successful so for her to open up about her failures is really insightful.
Sharmadean often shares tips, advice, failures, successes – her content game has been strong for a long time. So I’d recommend following her on social, and seeing what else she’s talking about. She’s a great example of how to create content around your business, to warm up your audience.
I have a podcast called The Robora and each episode tackles something online business-related. It might be ‘Why isn’t my online course selling?’ or something else to do with marketing or mindset.
I launched a podcast…
1. Because I love them and wanted to join the gang.
2. Because I know other people love them too, and prefer to absorb their business info aurally.
Also, once it had launched I realised that it could be really good for my one-to-one work, having my voice out there. If people listened, and liked the way I described these challenges – and how to overcome them – it might make them more interested in signing up to do one-to-one work with me.
And lastly, it’s a great way to drop in mentions of our online courses, as the same knowledge is being shared across the podcast episodes and the courses. Except the courses go into a lot more detail, offer exercises to encourage you to action the advice and you are invited to join our online community.