The Ultimate Guide To Picking a Niche

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Picking a niche can feel like you're running around in circles. You don't want to make the wrong choice and head off in the wrong direction so you just keep circling.

Know this - you can move forward and get clarity on your niche without setting anything in stone. In this article, we’re going to be taking a a few crucial steps towards clarity on WHO you serve, and WHAT result you help them achieve.

We’re going to be using the 70% rule. We want you to be 70% confident with your niche, and from there you take it to market, test it and develop it as you go. The important thing to remember is that it will evolve over time as you develop your business. Write it based on what you know now and where you are now, and expect that it will change.

STEP 1: THE BIG PICTURE

Before we dive in, let’s take a look at the bigger picture. Make some notes against these broad questions:

  • Where does your current experience lie?

  • What topics are you passionate about?

  • What do you like doing?

  • What do you not like doing?

  • Who have you worked with in the past?

STEP 2: ZOOMING IN

There are 3 specific areas we need to get clear on: 

  • What is the overarching problem your clients are struggling with?

  • Who do you want to work with?

  • What result do your ideal clients what to achieve?

There is no right or wrong way to approach this. You might have more clarity on one of those questions than the others.

Example 1: Starting with the PROBLEM

Fiona is a Copy Writer. She likes helping people who don’t have the confidence to write their own blogs. She doesn’t know who she wants to help, or even the particular result they are trying to achieve. She dives into the PROBLEM initially as this is where she has the most clarity.

Example 2: Starting with the WHO

Sarah likes working with families. She’s a trained teacher and non-violent communications trainer - she has experience in relationships, behaviour and communication and has no idea which one to focus on. She narrows down on the WHO first as this is where she has most clarity.

Example 3: Starting with the RESULT

Gemma (this one is me) know she wants to help people build successful businesses as her experience lies in teaching, consulting, marketing and sales. She also resonates with this result as this is what she is doing. She starts with the RESULT as this is where she has the most clarity.

What is the overarching PROBLEM your clients are struggling with?

Ask yourself, what problem are you passionate about helping people with?

Here’s some examples:

  • People who are unhappy and unfulfilled in their current job

  • People who are struggling to get clients

  • People who are unclear on the right marketing strategies to make themselves more visible

  • People who feel they have no purpose in life

  • People who don’t have the technical know-how to run their business smoothly online

  • People who don’t have enough time to do the admin processes in their business

  • People who have a negative relationship with food

  • Parents who are struggling with their children’s poor behaviour

  • People who are struggling to be the manager they want to be


Once you’ve got an idea of the overarching problem you want to help with, brainstorm around this problem to pull out any linked problems which you think you could help with (and want to help with).

Here’s my niche with examples of some of the linked problems that I might help with:

People who are struggling to get clients

  • Don’t have a clear niche

  • Don’t have clear messaging

  • Don’t know how to attract clients

  • Don’t know how to convert clients


If we look at the manager example from above, here are some potential linked problems that you might help with:

     People who are struggling to be the manager they want to be

  • Poor communication skills

  • Lack of confidence

  • Lack of strategies for managing difficult behaviours

If you don’t know what overarching problem your ideal clients are struggling with, ask them.

When I started out, I just knew I wanted to help people build a successful business. I didn’t know what the main stumbling block was. I put this question out on a load of FB groups where my ideal clients hung out:

    What is the number one challenge you face in building a successful business? 

The answer came back loud and clear - finding clients. This is now at the heart of what I help my clients achieve.

WHO do you want to work with?

A quick and simple question to ask is:

Who do you want to be a hero to? (credit: Greg Faxon)

A lot of the time, there is a fairly specific group of people you resonate with and want to serve. 

E.g. 

  • Mothers

  • High level execs

  • Teenagers

  • Parents

  • College graduates

  • Expats

However, the group you want to serve might not fall into an easy category as above. But they might be defined by an experience or life choice:

  • People who have suffered abuse or emotional trauma

  • Eco-conscious people

  • People going through a divorce

  • People who use a particular system or software

  • People who identify with a particular religion 

  • People of certain ethnicities

Make a list of the different groups of people you might want to work with. Which one jumps out? Which one excites you? Run with it.

If you can’t think of a group of people who you want to work with, instead imagine someone in real life who is your ideal client. What draws you to them? What qualities do they have? Create your ideal client around this person and trust that it will evolve. 

Aim to write down at least 3 common attributes of your ideal client.

What RESULTS are your ideal clients trying to achieve?


At the moment, your clients are struggling with a problem. It feels uncomfortable and they're stuck there. They don't want to feel stuck any more - they want to overcome this problem. 

This is where you come in. Whatever service you provide, you're aiming to take them from A (this place of being stuck, where they are experiencing problems) to B (a place where they've achieved what they were craving).

To speak directly to your clients, to truly understand them, you need to know what they are craving. 

On the surface this might seem pretty obvious - they want the opposite of whatever their problem was. So people who are struggling to find clients want to find more clients! 

But it’s usually more than that.

In my niche, working with busy mums, what they are usually craving is the flexibility, balance and family lifestyle they really want. 

But can we take it even further? What is the thing your ideal clients don't even dare to dream of? It's our job to show them what's possible, even beyond what they think they want. 

This might be the dream house with the big garden for the kids to play in. Enough money to take your family on the types of holiday you've always wanted to be able to provide.

To figure out what your ideal client is craving, it can be helpful to ask yourself, who do these people secretly envy and why? (Credit: Tad Hargrave).

How do you get them there?

Once you've identified the end result - what your ideal client is really craving - it's your job to help them get there. The specific journey that you take your clients on, to help them achieve that end result, is what makes you different from everyone else promising the exact same result. This is your HOW - your signature programme.

STEP 3: WRITE IT OUT

Once you’ve gone through the above steps, I find it helpful to commit yourself to pen and paper (or laptop) and write it out. Remember, we’re only aiming to be 70% right at this stage.

This is the format I’d recommend:

I help [WHO] do [WHAT]

Here’s my niche written in this format:

I help passionate and incredibly busy mums find more clients and run a service-based business they love, so they can make more money whilst having the flexibility, balance and family lifestyle they really want.

You’ll see I also added a ‘so they can [END RESULT]’.

STEP 4: TEST IT

OK, you’ve written out your niche. Massive well done. Before you go any further, run through the below exercises to test it (credit: Tad Hargrave).

Exercise 1: Are there enough of your ideal client to make your WHO viable?
 Check this before you go any further.

Exercise 2: Have you used any trendy buzz words or jargon that could be misunderstood? e.g. "creatives", “authenticity”. Delete and write in a clear, simple and conversational style.
 Is it 100% clear?

Exercise 3: What’s the one phrase your ideal client will read in your niche description and think ‘relevant!’? If you can’t find it, write it. 

Exercise 4: Imagine you’re in a room with 100 people - all your ideal client. You can only work with 10. What makes those 10 people different? Now do the exercise again with a room full of those people and narrow down your niche further. 

Exercise 5 Is your niche about you rather than the people you serve? If you’ve followed my suggested formula, it shouldn’t be, but if you’ve put too much of yourself into it, try to re-write focusing on the people you serve.

Exercise 6: If you struggled to define your WHO clearly, it can be helpful to give 3 examples of people you work with e.g. I help service-providing business owners, such as coaches, consultants and virtual assistants. 

Exercise 7: What in your niche (can be in your WHO, WHAT or HOW) makes you different from other people offering the same thing?

Top tip: Prevention can be tricky to sell. For example, ‘I help busy mums prevent burn out when running their business'. Most people don’t know they need help with burn out until it’s happened to them. Meet your client where they are now. 

STEP 5: TAKE IT TO MARKET

Awesome - You’ve got this far! You might not be 100% happy, but if you’re 70% there, it’s time to take it to your target audience and get some clients. Every potential client you speak to is going to help you gain even more clarity. 

Not sure how to find your ideal clients? Start by making a list of all the places your ideal clients hang out and go there.