How to Break Into a New Freelancing Niche

Break Into a New Freelancing Niche

I’ve been feeling like a rookie freelancer all over again.

It’s because I decided to get into a different freelancing niche. Let me tell you, it’s been difficult, slow going, exciting, unnerving, energizing and mind boggling all at the same time.

My Niche Journey

Sometime last year, I became restless and wanted to focus on working with a specific type of business and industry only. Since then, I’ve had a few false starts… and made a little progress.

By false starts, I mean I thought I had identified the perfect niche for me. I even registered a domain name so I could create a landing page targeted to that niche — only to change my mind after a few weeks.

Then finally, after several months of research, prayer and just waiting for inspiration, I decided on a niche. Almost as soon as I did that, I started getting a trickle of new projects from the identified niche. God, I take that to mean “Yes!”

Finding projects in the new niche has encouraged me to keep going, but I realize I still have a ton of work to do to make sure the trickle turns into a gushing river.

In this post, I’d like to share with you what I’ve been doing to get a foothold in this new market. I hope these ideas can help you to gain a strong presence in your own market, too.

Breaking Into A New Market

Watering holes

One of the most important aspects of market research is discovering their watering holes. Where do your ideal clients hang out?

It doesn’t make sense for me to use all my energy trying to get my ideal clients to read my blog, or connect with me in social networks. I need to go where they already are.

So far, I’ve been doing this by attending live events and being more active specific social networks. I’ve discovered that my new ideal clients are quite active in LinkedIn, a social network I had previously not been active in.

That’s changing now. I’ve been joining relevant LinkedIn groups and connecting with people (those who fit my profile of the ideal client and those who are influential to my ideal clients). I’m setting aside Friday afternoons to be active in group discussions and submit some useful answers. I may even create my own group (we’ll see about that!).

The important thing is to listen and find out what my new ideal clients’ pain, problems, and predicaments are, and what types of solutions they’re looking for. I also have my eyes open for their most frequently-asked questions in my field, how they work with freelancers, and what areas I can be most useful in.

General Research

Because the niche I want to work in is quite different from what I’m used to, I need to learn more about it. I’ve been doing this with the help of:

Books

I’m reading books to help me gain a general knowledge of my new niche. I’m also reading other books that help me bridge what I do know (the strategies) to what this market needs (how to apply those strategies in this niche).

Blogs

Blogs are much easier to consume than books, and can be just as helpful. Along with books, blogs are also great for identifying and connecting with influential people in this new niche.

Training Courses

Because my new niche requires a different kind of copywriting, I invested in a couple of training courses. I used one like a Bible when I had my first client in this niche. (By the way, if you’re looking for high-quality training courses for freelancers, I highly recommend the ones by American Writers & Artists Inc. View their catalog here.*)

Testing

Now that I have better knowledge about my new niche, I’m in the testing mode. I’m trying out promotional materials and buzz pieces, to see which ones will generate the best response.

What’s Your Experience?

Were you previously a generalist who then decided to specialize? Or have you ever switched from one niche to another?

How did YOU do it? And how long did it take for you to feel comfortable and confident in that niche?

I’d love to hear about your experience, and any advice you may have for me and other readers. Post a comment below.

Lexi Rodrigo Savvy Freelancer

PS: If you’d like to learn more about finding your freelancing niche, sign up for this free webinar I did with Steve Slaunwhite, copywriter and freelancing coach.

*Affiliate link – I am an affiliate for AWAI. This means that, if you purchase any of their courses through my link, I will receive a commission. While I only recommend products and services I believe in and often use myself, you should still do your due diligence before buying anything. Thank you!

Creative Commons License photo credit: Ian Sane

7 Responses to How to Break Into a New Freelancing Niche
  1. Samantha Gluck
    January 10, 2012 | 11:29 am

    Hi Lexi,

    I really liked reading about your journey while breaking into a new niche. Yours has many of the same characteristics as my own journey.

    I chuckled when I saw you write, “God, I take that to mean ‘Yes!’” I constantly (almost subconsciously at times) pray to Him about what I’m working on, potential clients, freelancing in general, and all things. When I’ve asked about something, or begged for guidance, I always know that the answer is a resounding YES when the new projects start raining down on me and I begin to feel my heart quicken as I ponder how I’ll fit them all in my schedule.

    We’re all on a mission — similar in many ways, but wildly different in other. xo

    • Alexis
      January 10, 2012 | 11:33 am

      @Samantha Gluck – Thanks for sharing! We can only do so much, and leave the rest in the hands of one who is greater than us (and according to a character in “How I Met Your Mother,” that’s aliens, not God, LOL!).

  2. Andrea
    January 10, 2012 | 1:15 pm

    Thank you for your post. I often feel like hiding behind social media, especially Twitter, to find clients. Finding their “watering hole” is of course a great idea that gets often overlooked.

    • Alexis
      January 10, 2012 | 1:23 pm

      @Andrea – Twitter was quite effective for me as well… before I switched niches.

  3. Debra
    January 12, 2012 | 2:08 pm

    Hi – Great article, Lexi. I’ll be looking for watering holes, too.

    Since I’n working on identifying my niche this came at an opportune time. I’d like to listen to the Slaunwhite webinar as well. I clicked on the link above, then registered as the landing page instructed. His webinar doesnt appear to be on the archives page. Am I missing something?

    • Alexis
      January 12, 2012 | 6:22 pm

      @Debra – You should have gotten an email with the link to the recording of my webinar with Steve. If you didn’t get it, please email me at lexi@thesavvyfreelancer.com. Thanks!

  4. [...] How to Break Into a New Freelancing Niche [The Savvy Freelancer]: I’ve been feeling like a rookie freelancer all over again. It’s because I decided to get into a different freelancing niche. Let me tell you, it’s been difficult, slow going, exciting, unnerving, energizing and mind boggling all at the same time. [...]

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