Establishing Your Niche

Post here if you're defining (or redefining) your niche.

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Old 01-07-2012
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Default How did you find your Niche Market?
I have been in business going on 3 years and still have yet to find my niche. I currently work for 3 clients and do a variety of admin work from Bookkeeping to Excel Reports to meeting set up and note taking.

I need to find my niche so that I can market more effectively. Any suggestions how to do this?

Thanks,
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Old 01-07-2012
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Default Re: How did you find your Niche Market?
What is your past experience in? Take a look at all your work experience, figure out what you do best, and pick that as your niche.
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Old 01-09-2012
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Default Re: How did you find your Niche Market?
The thing that helped me absolutely solidify my niche was two fold.

As Paulette recommends, look at all your experience and determine where your natural gifts and talents are. List out all your skills. Have a brainstorming and mind-mapping session with yourself. Then out of the items on your list, determine what gets you excited. What are you passionate about? While you can still offer other services, your primary service must be something that makes you want to jump out of the bed each morning.

Then begin to see what overall category do those skills and talents fall under. For instance, if you have developing spreadsheets on your list and it falls under both the talented, skilled, and passion category - how can you enhance that as a full service. Perhaps it becomes a thing of where you provide a client help with ALL their reporting needs. You then still get to work on your passion of doing spreadsheets, but you can add value by creating a full package of some kind.

HTH.
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Old 01-09-2012
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Default Re: How did you find your Niche Market?
Thanks for your feedback ladies. I plan to do a brainstorming session this week!
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Old 01-09-2012
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Default Re: How did you find your Niche Market?
I agree!! Brainstorm to figure out what you've been doing, what your experience permits, your current clients, etc. HERE is where you'll find your niche.
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Old 01-09-2012
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Default Re: How did you find your Niche Market?
Hi Shelley,

I started with services I did exceptionally, then I added more services as education, experience and equipment grew. If there is a skill that you keep hearing prospective clients ask for, then you can learn those to expand. Keep at it, don't loose faith.

Good luck!
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Old 01-09-2012
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Default Re: How did you find your Niche Market?
Hello Shelley and everyone here. This is really the million-dollar question. How many of us have searched our hearts and souls, digging deep for that ultimate answer! I am going to jump in with a little two-cents’ worth, and I wholeheartedly admit that these two cents are not backed by years of experience.

I have yet to have a client come to me because of my Web site or because of marketing myself. However, I really strongly believe these are extremely important. We have to market ourselves; we have to have a Web site. I guess that’s just an absolute must - no ifs, ands, or buts. Actually, I take this back. I have had a few inquiries due to marketing myself – but nothing really totally substantial or long-term. For me, my marketing efforts have resulted in nibbles, a bit of interest, but not the ultimate long-term commitment. Yes, I’m all about commitment. Hey, I’ve been married for 26 years. That has to count for something! What matters to me is a long-term client, a good relationship, a set number of hours of work per month, and enjoying the work I’m doing. Included in this also is a good referral for a one-time project that I take to heart because of the person who has referred me. I’m all about the love .

OK, I’m getting off subject – But the bottom line for me is that I went after the clients I wanted to work with. I love doing a lot of different things. I just can’t commit myself to one certain thing or one certain industry. I know that that’s a really great way to market our skills - to zero in on a particular line of business. But for me, it’s all about doing things I really love doing and working with clients I really love working with. And with that, I think there is always so much to learn, expand on, and enjoy every bit of what we went into business for.

My apologies for the rambling. I really think it takes time and experience of actually working as a virtual assistant to figure out what you want to specialize in. It is really a different world out there on the ‘corporate’ side of things. Maybe what you enjoyed doing at XYZ Industries will not be the same thing you will enjoy doing in your own business. And maybe your favorite client’s business will be something you had never even heard of before. Just give yourself some wiggle room and room to grow. I am sure you’re going to find exactly what you’re looking for. Our wonderful VA industry has so much to offer. We are all bound to find what we love doing
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Old 01-10-2012
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Default Re: How did you find your Niche Market?
Shelley,

I am a generalist so my marketing is a little different. I select groups of networks based on services and needs. For example many in my circles are now looking at their websites and social media so that is what I am now marketing for with those networks. I concentrate on two or three markets rather than on specialty.

On LinkedIn I target admin work because of the nature of the media. Answer questions, make suggestions and have conversations. I have found several clients here who are looking for people to help structure their offices so I concentrate on that.

Being a generalist you just needs to figure out how to make what you offer fit to their needs. I would start by not only figuring what you love (and I mean love) to do and who would be your idea client for those tasks. Then find the networks they are part of. Also watch the conversations. Right now with the beginning of the year many are looking to organize and rework their processes to fit their goals so I tweak my message to fit that need.

Like Patty I enjoy the variety of the day so my clients service range is vast. It also gives me a chance to work with wonderful clients who may bring something to the table that will allow me to expand and grow professionally.

You have gotten come great feedback from others on how to concentrate on one niche or specialty however it is okay to be a generalist.
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Old 01-14-2012
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Default Re: How did you find your Niche Market?
Hello Everyone!!

What great insight. Starting out and I am currently in business planning stages I first initially thought I wanted to work with small businesses, entrepreneurs, home based businesses and non profits. But as I thought more about my values, what I love to do, what are my skills sets etc I realized that my initial niche was broad. So I narrowed it down my background, values and passions.

Now that I know my niche and target market I am learning about the needs of the industry and looking at what I can offer.
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Old 01-14-2012
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Default Re: How did you find your Niche Market?
When choosing the services I would offer, I thought about my skills and past experience. I also thought long and hard about the tasks I enjoy doing. Another thing to think about is what is needed in your local area. Perhaps there is a market that isn't currently covered where you could make a name for yourself. I don't have one defined niche but three:

1.- I'm bilingual so I offer translation services which for locals also includes help filing police reports, verbal translations at notary etc

2.- I can write and one of my main clients is a local newspaper

3.- I worked in real estate for more than 8 years so I contacted local agents to offer my services. As I live in a tourist area, these services are really useful as many foreigners buy here who require extra assistance.

I read a post by another VA a few weeks ago and she said that her niche is everything! I don't think it is a negative to offer more than one type of service (without going overboard becoming a jack of all trades but master of none) as long as you feel fulfilled and you can switch over from one type of project to another without confusing yourself.
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Old 06-05-2012
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Default Re: How did you find your Niche Market?
There's two ways to look at niche-ing your sevices:

1. By what your strongest skill set is (i.e., admin services, transcription or technical,etc...)
2. By your ideal client you want to work with (i.e. a specific industry or field - doctors, laywers, etc..)

For me, I'm very technical. I was a per-hour web designer for more than a decade. I amassed a lot of varied, technical type skills during that time. So sticking with technical is one way I niche my services.

The other really was more by getting a particular type of client that I seemed to work well with. In my case, I do work a lot with health professionals of various sorts; and offline consultants.
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Last edited by Traci Knoppe; 06-05-2012 at 06:13 AM. Reason: corrected a misspelling
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Old 06-05-2012
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Default Re: How did you find your Niche Market?
When I started out, I had the same problem... re: niche! I figured it out the day another VA friend of mine asked me if I would be interested in ‘doing maintenance’ on a WordPress website for one of her client…That was it, I was “hooked” and found my niche.

To answer your question: Go with your heart…what DO YOU REALLY love to do? What program, project do you really enjoy working with? What is the challenge that you would like to master?

Create your niche. Become a master in your own field.
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Old 06-06-2012
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Default Re: How did you find your Niche Market?
Originally Posted by eXPERT Business Support View Post
I love doing a lot of different things. I just can’t commit myself to one certain thing or one certain industry...But for me, it’s all about doing things I really love doing...
I so agree with you, Patty.

When I was taking secretarial courses in high school, a term was brandied about "I'm a paper shuffler." That's what I am to this day. I love the challenge projects bring with them. Some things can be done by rote. Others not so much. Or a project may seem rote but some quirk will happen to change the project. And those are the things that excite me. The unexpected. The work. The final result.

It creates a marketing nightmare I'm finding--probably because I'm trying to answer questions I don't know.
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Old 06-06-2012
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Default Re: How did you find your Niche Market?
Thanks for the great conversation ladies. I know the industry that I want to work with so I am now doing some market research to find out more about their needs.
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Old 06-21-2012
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Default Re: How did you find your Niche Market?
Originally Posted by eXPERT Business Support View Post
Hello Shelley and everyone here. This is really the million-dollar question. How many of us have searched our hearts and souls, digging deep for that ultimate answer! I am going to jump in with a little two-cents’ worth, and I wholeheartedly admit that these two cents are not backed by years of experience.

I have yet to have a client come to me because of my Web site or because of marketing myself. However, I really strongly believe these are extremely important. We have to market ourselves; we have to have a Web site. I guess that’s just an absolute must - no ifs, ands, or buts. Actually, I take this back. I have had a few inquiries due to marketing myself – but nothing really totally substantial or long-term. For me, my marketing efforts have resulted in nibbles, a bit of interest, but not the ultimate long-term commitment. Yes, I’m all about commitment. Hey, I’ve been married for 26 years. That has to count for something! What matters to me is a long-term client, a good relationship, a set number of hours of work per month, and enjoying the work I’m doing. Included in this also is a good referral for a one-time project that I take to heart because of the person who has referred me. I’m all about the love .

OK, I’m getting off subject – But the bottom line for me is that I went after the clients I wanted to work with. I love doing a lot of different things. I just can’t commit myself to one certain thing or one certain industry. I know that that’s a really great way to market our skills - to zero in on a particular line of business. But for me, it’s all about doing things I really love doing and working with clients I really love working with. And with that, I think there is always so much to learn, expand on, and enjoy every bit of what we went into business for.

My apologies for the rambling. I really think it takes time and experience of actually working as a virtual assistant to figure out what you want to specialize in. It is really a different world out there on the ‘corporate’ side of things. Maybe what you enjoyed doing at XYZ Industries will not be the same thing you will enjoy doing in your own business. And maybe your favorite client’s business will be something you had never even heard of before. Just give yourself some wiggle room and room to grow. I am sure you’re going to find exactly what you’re looking for. Our wonderful VA industry has so much to offer. We are all bound to find what we love doing
I agree with you on this one. I'm willing to learn anything to get the job done. My experience deals with desktop publishing, transcribing, recording, etc. but I'm still going to push myself to learn new programs and how to do websites and things of that nature. The more you do, the more high in demand you possibly become.
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Old 07-18-2012
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Default Re: How did you find your Niche Market?
Originally Posted by leedrozak View Post
Shelley,

I am a generalist so my marketing is a little different. I select groups of networks based on services and needs. For example many in my circles are now looking at their websites and social media so that is what I am now marketing for with those networks. I concentrate on two or three markets rather than on specialty.

On LinkedIn I target admin work because of the nature of the media. Answer questions, make suggestions and have conversations. I have found several clients here who are looking for people to help structure their offices so I concentrate on that.

Being a generalist you just needs to figure out how to make what you offer fit to their needs. I would start by not only figuring what you love (and I mean love) to do and who would be your idea client for those tasks. Then find the networks they are part of. Also watch the conversations. Right now with the beginning of the year many are looking to organize and rework their processes to fit their goals so I tweak my message to fit that need.

Like Patty I enjoy the variety of the day so my clients service range is vast. It also gives me a chance to work with wonderful clients who may bring something to the table that will allow me to expand and grow professionally.

You have gotten come great feedback from others on how to concentrate on one niche or specialty however it is okay to be a generalist.
Yours and Pattys posts were wonderful. I was stressing about not being able to nail down a specific niche market. I mean, I worked with medical professionals in the past but I felt that my services could cater to other markets as well. I like the term generalist and I need to remember that I am one. I too, do this based on what I like to do and what I enjoy and I enjoy variety if I didn't I'd go back to my old 9-5 job and variety is why I chose this career in the first place. Thanks so much, you've put a lot of my fears to rest and I am psyched and pumped and making another list of ideal clients as we speak! (or type)
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Old 08-02-2012
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Default Re: How did you find your Niche Market?
What worked for me is attending different seminars and conferences that offer help to new business owners. Once there, I listen to the gripes and issues that business owners are having and that help me to think about my background and what services I can provide.
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