When Exploring Niche Markets, Start With a Long List

Yesterday, I touted the advantages of focusing on a specific niche market. It really is the best way to launch or grow your B2B writing business.

Case in point. My friend Janice struggled for over a year to get her freelance copywriting business off the ground. The problem was, she had positioned herself as a generalist. Two years ago, however, she decided to focus on a specific niche market: accounting firms. Within a few weeks her business took off.

Today, Janice is not only booked solid, she’s also co-writing a book with one of her clients!

Why did Janice decide to focus on accounting firms? (No, she’s not a former accountant.) She went through the same niche-finding process that I’m going to walk you through right now.

So, let’s get started …

Get out a notepad or open a new doc on your computer. You’re going to be making a long list of possibilities.

Step 1

You probably have some niche markets in mind already. Perhaps you’re dreaming of writing for the travel industry? Or maybe you have a hankering to work with medical technology companies? Or you might have a gut-feeling that business coaching firms is the ideal niche for you.

Don’t make any judgments. Jot down as many possibilities as you can dream up, without worrying about whether a particular niche makes sense or not.

By the end of this step you’ll likely have five to 10 potential niches.

Step 2

More than likely, there are some niche markets you don’t even know exist. So, to expand your list of possibilities, visit the website of one of the following Business List companies.

  • Hoovers.com
  • InfoUSA.com

Each of those websites has free online tools you can use to browse hundreds of industries. Explore. Pick those industries you suspect might be a potential niche for you. Add them to your list.

Chances are, you’ll find at least two or three new niches doing this step.

Step 3

Your list should be closing in on 15 by now. But you’re not done yet.

Now I want you to take the larger industries on your list and break them down into smaller, more narrowly defined niche markets.

Say, for example, you have Training Companies on your list. You can break that industry down in a couple of ways.

  • By type of training. (Sales, customer service, leadership, soft skills, technical skills.)
  • Company size. (Small, mid-sized, large.)

Going through this process, you might end up with “Mid-sized sales training firms” as a possible niche.

By the way, don’t be afraid to consider a niche that seems, at first glance, too small. I once met a copywriter who specializes in time-keeping equipment for professional sporting events. He told me there are more than 300 good-sized companies in that niche (where he’s positioned as the go-to copywriter!)

Once you’ve completed the above three steps, you’ll have a long list staring you in the face. Have you ever stood dumbfounded at an ice cream parlor that offered 47 flavors? It’s a little overwhelming! Don’t worry. Tomorrow I’m going to walk you through the steps to whittling down that list to just a handful of possibilities.

And one of those possibilities is likely going to be the ideal niche for you.

Let me know how your list is coming along in the comments.

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Published: April 21, 2015

18 Responses to “When Exploring Niche Markets, Start With a Long List”

  1. Excellent links Steve! Thanks…

    Chuck DApril 21, 2015 at 12:39 pm

  2. Steve, thank you for your advice on narrowing down copywriting niches...this is very helpful and helping me clarify my direction as a copywriter. Thanks again!

    Guest (Paul)April 21, 2015 at 3:40 pm

  3. Having volunteered for 7 years in a local hospital treating cancer and have been privileged to hear the patients personal stories and the fear they are facing with this disease. Questions about side effects, quality of life after treatment, changes in lifestyle, how will their lives change after treatment, what if the cancer returns… all reasonable concerns. Since this is my passion, what better niche to choose than B2B – Lead-generation to lead other patients to this hospital.

    Guest (ClydeM)April 21, 2015 at 4:32 pm

  4. So far I have 16 niches' listed. Each I've listed are of interest to me however, a few have a more profound interest. What I am concerned with is whether my interests are equaled to the interests of others to the degree of a company needing another individual representing them. I think I'd do my best in something I am interested in as long as I know others share the same interest.
    I'm looking forward to tomorrows lesson.

    Guest (Lorraine)April 21, 2015 at 5:23 pm

  5. I have over 30 years experience in one sector but not sure that is where I want to stay so with this exercise I have two columns of possibilities. The biggest downside to the niche I know - people tend to try to do it themselves to keep costs down. Of course it impacts their results but it seems to be a mindset. So I'm open to fun new alternatives.

    CelticGirlApril 21, 2015 at 7:35 pm

  6. I have a number of years in the healthcare industry, but I am not sure that is where I want to start. This exercise, however, has helped me develop a list of industries I am interested in possibly writing for. I worried my list was/is too long as I came up with 20 on my own and then as I browsed a few pages of hovers.com I identified at least 10 more. Now some of these can be consolidated into one industry, but in the true sense of the exercise, I just free wrote whatever popped into my head.

    Pat BApril 21, 2015 at 8:06 pm

  7. Steve thank you for all your help. I have come up with seven so far. thanks for the web site also.

    Guest (Lewis)April 21, 2015 at 10:54 pm

  8. Steve, your articles are tremendously helpful. Thank you!! I'd love to work in the Christian market, particularly related to Bible study programs, but I'm not sure if this is B2B or B2C? Any recommendations for areas or types of companies to target for B2B? Also, do you feel this a significant market with enough opportunities for a reasonable income?

    Guest (Pat)April 22, 2015 at 7:46 am

  9. Thanks Steve. As a former instructor in media I had a few go-to's immediately but your article forced me to look at other possibilities as well. The list is growing rapidly. This is going to be interesting. I almost forgot, is your B2B class all inclusive or will I need to take it in conjunction with the accelerated program as well? Many thanks.

    Guest (Ric)April 22, 2015 at 10:27 am

  10. Thank you, Steve.
    I have just started my Six-Figure Accelerated program and have wondered how I was going to find my niche. This is very helpful! I no longer feel overwhelmed and have a doable game plan.
    Many Thanks!
    Melissa

    Guest (Melissa)April 22, 2015 at 1:23 pm

  11. Steve, thanks so very very much for this timely guidance!! I thought knowing I want to work in B2B was too general, so I decided to specialize in case studies and web content. Then I questioned whether or not I still need to narrow it down to industry. I couldn't find a definitive answer. You have answered my questions here. I am following your process, starting with Educational Software at the top of my first list. Thanks again, I feel like I'm regaining the focus I had lost.

    Guest (Lee Nourse)April 22, 2015 at 7:06 pm

  12. Thank you!!!

    Guest (Christa)April 23, 2015 at 12:52 pm

  13. I would like to see a good sample copywriting letter for any product in any industry. However, it seems to me that this is a question that everyone likes to dodge and not answer directly. The typical vague answer given in this regard always goes like this: "Oh no, it depends on the industry and whether or not the letter you write will let someone do something." Usually this supposedly means whether the letter will let someone buy something, donate money, or subscribe to some type of service or membership into some group. However, that is not what I ask for when I request a sample of a good copywriting letter.

    fkustaaApril 25, 2015 at 5:58 pm

  14. In all my professional working life I must say that I've never experienced a more inclusive teaching program as this.My cap is off to all that have contributed. Thank you AWAI, I know you care...namaste.

    SandiApril 27, 2015 at 1:25 pm

  15. I just went through the initial steps of defining a Niche. I have 12 in Step 1, added 2 more in Step 2, and in Step 3 I broke these down into an average of two each. I now have 33 sub niches beyond the initial 12, so 45 total. I got close to you 47 (in your example). Yes, a bit overwhelming, where to start?

    NoMoHypeJune 11, 2015 at 10:18 am


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