It’s taken me at least 10 years to settle on a niche. I’ve always known it would be in the creative industries – I grew up drawing and was praised throughout school for my ability to draw, paint etc and expanded on that through college, and uni, looking into ‘commercially viable art’ – Graphic Design! Yet, I still dipped in and out of other disciplines; Photography, Video, Editing, Writing etc, kind of all lends itself to Graphic Design and I got a job as this, was even paid to imitate illustration styles at times! Skip forward 8 years and I’ve bounced around so much I’m now (humbly) a jack of all trades, master of some (still humble!) and my most dreaded question is “So what do you do?”
I die inside when I get asked this, I don’t even know what to say to this without just word-vomiting everything and looking like a lost child, age 31 and three-quarters!
Anyway, thus starts a soul searching mission to find out what I actually want to do with my life – because waking up had become the most #FirstWorldProblems ever where I would just run in mental and physical circles over this issue.
Enter Taoism and the philosophy of the Wu Wei, “inaction” or in my case what most resonated was “effortless action” – Work out what took little effort, that which I wanted to do daily, and wouldn’t stress me out.
This answer for me isn’t much progress on where I once was, but it’s a sort of Zen realisation of where to fire all these ‘guns’.
Branding! And from here I can quite easily niche down further, I’m loving Personal Branding so hand me that spade and I’ll get digging.
Summary: Sometimes, the hard thing is choosing the thing to-do, my angle here is to change your mindset to choosing which to do first. We live in a time where you can do all the things, there is no problem with that.
You can learn it all and perform it all.
But, that can give us a bit of a dilemma on what to do!
Just choose something to do for now.
But which one!?
Here is a nice exercise that gets you on the track to do just that:
Why do you want to do something?
The jist of my strategy is to get you to write for 5-10minutes about the exact reasons why you should do a certain thing. Don’t limit yourself on your language, if you wanna do photography because it makes you get up in the morning and shout Yabba Dabba Doo! then write that, that’s a perfectly valid reason to want to do photography!
Make sure you do write for at least 5 minutes though, force it if necessary. It might be a struggle, but that means you need to dig deeper, get a good paragraph in there.
Step 1. List out your options.
Everything that you could possibly want to do that would give you some income. It can be broad at this stage if you like. Include topics, sectors, specialists etc etc
– Graphic Design
- Personal Branding
- Wedding Photography
– Social Media Videography
– Blog Writing
- Lifestyle blogging
– Web Design
- Mobile-first specialist web design
- UI Design
Step 2. Write for 5minutes (and push to make it 10minutes) about each of these sections.
Get thinking about what you like, why should you do this option? I like making videos because I get to use a load of gear, that’s a great reason! Also note what you don’t like. A downside to video is that you’re a bit of a target in the streets, your gear is worth a lot and so people can target you a bit in certain cities! That’s definitely a downside, is it a big enough downside? We’ll get to that later!
As you write, you might get sparks of joy, lil bit of excitement! Take note of this with a little asterisk.
For some of the writing and it’s just a chore, you’re writing out pros and cons and can’t wait to get to the next one and move on. Maybe stick a bit of an X here. Note the discomfort here.
You might find you’re writing and looking forward to writing about a certain one, take note, that’s an indicator as well. Let’s underline whatever that was that you were thinking about.
Step 3. Transform it into a pros and cons list
Below your paragraphs, or on a new sheet, new page – Simplify what you’ve written, get it into a simple PROS and CONS list so you can easily assess your answers.
Transfer across those asterisk, underlines and big ‘X’s
Step 4. Choose one!
At the end of the exercise, ask yourself how you’re feeling. Has one jumped out, is there one the just feels right? Is there one that is covered in asterisk and underlines? That might be the one!
Any that have a load of ‘X’s on them? It’s not that one!
You are looking for one answer that is more in-explicable and passionate that the others. Choose that one.
I think that’s the one for you. Just concentrate on that for some time. Do it every day. We can always move on at a later date but for now, we need to get this ball rolling!
Bonus step. Go even more niche!
Not necessary this step, but there is so much strength in a niche. Can we narrow your answer down at all?
Let’s say you’ve indicated that Photography is the one for you. Could you narrow that down to Wedding Photography? Real Estate Photography?
There’s still a lot of competition there, can we go even more niche!?
Commercial Real Estate Photography – Commercial Real Estate Photography for companies from Atlanta – Commercial Real Estate Photography for companies in Cartersville, Atlanta!
How does that result feel?
It might feel a bit constraining, but know this, it won’t stop others from contacting you. Just because you do real estate doesn’t mean you won’t get Wedding clients, they’ll still come knocking! It’s up to you whether to take the job or not. I would push you to keep that work a bit hidden though, share it with people, but maybe keep it in another portfolio, do not mix it in with you Real Estate or whichever niche you burrowed into!
Earlier I mentioned that we’re choosing one to start with now. After this exercise, you will have gone from everything you love in the world, to something you are pretty hyped about!
Do this topic/category/style for at least 6 months. If you know you can go H.A.M at it. Then do it for 90days hardcore. Realistically though, success takes about 3-6 years in a given topic, but you’ve come from this crazy short attention span mess of being multi-passionate and we need to get the ball rolling because otherwise, it’s just a life of spinning wheels and not getting anything done.
So for the next half a year / quarter, let’s go really hard on this topic and start waking up shouting Yabba Dabba Do00000000!
Hope you enjoyed this post and you have now chosen a topic, what is it? Let me know in the comments below.