But before we dive in, it was interesting to hear the creative community’s thoughts on niches. It seems everyone has a different opinion. There are many arguments for and against this approach. Some have tried to specialize and failed, while others prefer to call themselves generalists to “keep things interesting” and avoid limiting what they can do.
This is where Penny thinks “the niche” gets a bad rap and is often misunderstood. In our exclusive interview, she explains how she does it, the different paths to finding your niche, and why it can be a game-changer for your earning power. More importantly, Penny dispels any misconceptions and reveals why a “niche” is more than you might imagine.
A lot of people are afraid of “nesting up”, but there’s nothing to worry about, is there?
I see the niche working phenomenally for everyone I have worked with, including myself. It’s absolutely transformative. If you adopt a niche, you become more confident in charging for things because you are more confident in what you are doing. You become an expert in that specific area.
It all started with my return to the UK when I pulled out the antennae and opened a studio. I had work to do, trying to find the right clients, but it was frustrating because there was misalignment and it was causing stress. I noticed that some clients really made sense, and it was these awesome ladies. And I just said, “Fuck it, I’m going to niche”. I’m just going to work with people that I align myself with. And then someone laughed, and that was all the encouragement I needed!
Yeah, it’s really you. I like this.
So I stuck this phrase on some badges, and people liked it. Going niche, I finally answered that tough question about what I do. And what I loved the most was realizing how my approach could also help others, allowing them to determine their niche and then tailor their business to that mission. Specialization can feel like trying something a little bolder and breaking from the norm, but in reality, it allows everything to fall into place.
Yes exactly. When we start, it is inevitable that we will do everything we can to survive. But there is a risk of exhaustion and getting lost, right?
Earlier I was trying to figure this out because we have this whole thing of saying yes to everything. But after a while you realize you have to say no. But say no to what? This is the difficult question. What do you refuse?
Your niche becomes an anchor and revealer of opportunities. You can keep coming back and asking if this fits your niche. If it’s a no or a yes, that’s your answer. The more you focus on a particular niche, the more expert you become. You talk about it, you learn it, you live it – making sure those yeses help build that expertise every day.
It might be a stupid question, but what does it mean? Is it the type of clients you work with and the industries in which you operate? Or do you mean a niche in the type of style you have and your services?
It could be all of that. It’s a lot: what do I do? Who am I doing it for? And why am I doing it? So for me, you know, “brand strategist looking for a niche for kickass businesswomen.” I do branding, my angle is to go down into that niche and get into what you do as an awesome businesswoman.
The irony is that I’ve had quite a few men come to me over the past few months, the attitude attracts them. The non Alpha approach and they appreciate that I drew a line in the sand and took a stand. It’s about not being vanilla. It’s like that. So there is a service in there. There’s who I do it for, and there’s also how I do it. This formula is an excellent base. You cover the big scary question of ‘What are you doing?’ Yeah. And people want to know, who is it for? If you’re going to find the right people, find and talk directly to the people you want.
Yeah. Why are we so afraid to define our strengths?
The biggest thing I hear is that people are scared if they nest they’re going to miss or think they’re cutting things off. The focus is on what they lose rather than what they gain. Some people might also interpret specialization as being able to do only one thing forever. It is not the case at all. It’s more about having a set angle. A niche is narrow but deep. You can get into and enjoy working in many different fields. I know what I’m doing and who I’m doing it for. It’s really clear and now I can develop it in so many different ways.
So basically you’ve created yourself – you’ve found your niche, in that you’re helping others find their niche.
That’s the irony. My niche was “kickass business women” to begin with, but, what I get asked to talk about, and what people come to me for help, and also why I think more men have approached me as well , is that it is, they recognize that I have found my niche and how I say it and they want the same for them.
People focus on what they lose rather than what they gain if they go into a niche. It’s more about having a set angle. A niche is narrow but deep. You can get into and enjoy working in many different fields.
It’s incredible! You have called yourself an expert in something few people understand. You have become the reference in this field.
Yeah, that’s great. It all started with a small badge. It was my thing. I figured things out on my own, navigated a niche and it worked. And now I find that many other people have the same problem as me. And now I can help them. It’s fantastic.
When I first went to a niche, some people asked me if I was worried about losing half my audience. But the thing is, I don’t need hundreds of customers. I need some of the good ones. Who appreciates what I do and where I can make a difference. Having niche clarity and clarifying what you do and who you do it for allows the right people to find you.
I would turn it around and say, aren’t you worried about losing customers.
Yeah. Focus on what you will gain rather than what you will lose. If you can reverse that mindset, it gives you the courage to go into a niche.
Is there anyone you’ve recently helped find their niche that has thrived on this?
Absolutely. Dani Molyneux of Dotto is an example of this. We realized his work was all about powerful messages and typographic art. By embracing this niche, her focus has completely changed. Who approaches her, you know, who approaches what work she does, what she prioritizes. It gave him real focus. She can clearly explain who she is, what she does and what she is passionate about.
This strong position is also reflected in its range of services. And now she works with much larger clients, she started her own shop and she just launched her own Domestika course. Everything falls into place naturally for Dani.
Is it simplifying your offer to make it obvious to potential customers?
I offer three different packages at The Brand Directoress®, which I clearly describe on my site. They are written in plain English and are easy for everyone to understand. It doesn’t limit me to only being able to do these three things, you can always invite a conversation to discuss other ways of working together. But you have a solid signing offer. I recommend it to everyone. Get niche clarity and focus on your key services and industries and go from there. Be brief and precise. This is the hard and scary part but so worth it.
Exactly. The niche acts as a crown.
Yeah. You become the go-to person for your niche. And then, once you’re in a chat, you can go into more detail. But if you hit people with too much information first, or if you’re too vague, everyone has too much, let me know. Can you be clear in one sentence about what you do and how it can help me?
Everything falls into place when you know what you are doing and for whom?
It brings confidence and clarity. I think you can find a niche and still do a lot of things. This may be a particular approach. For example, if it’s in advertising, you could do design, copywriting, say you can work on shoots, do filming — you could do all of those things, that’s fine. But there is probably a style. There is probably a niche that runs through all of this. A theme.
Many people can offer many services, but how do you do it differently? Are you focused on storytelling, or are you focused on humans? If you are a photographer, do you focus on portraits or sports? There is something there. You just have to find it.
I limited myself to a niche, but look what opened up! I have so many opportunities and ideas. I am currently writing a book. I attended conferences, created courses, gave talks and podcasts, brought in clients – the specialization opened many doors for me.
What essential lesson can we draw from all this?
You have to understand what you are doing and for whom you are doing it and then everything will make sense. How you describe yourself, market your business and the customers you attract. It becomes so much easier.
It can seem overwhelming to find your niche. Maybe start with this question: what would you do if you could start over? Don’t think about the consequences. Be brave.
You can also ask family and friends to describe you and your business. Is there a theme? Does this correspond to what you think? Or is there room for improvement? If people are confused, it gives you an impetus to control the narrative. Be clear about your niche. Because the next time someone asks you, you’ll be clear and convincing. Still not sure? Ask yourself these three questions: Who? What? And why? It really is a good starting point.