Action Plan: Choose Your Niche

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In my hometown of New Orleans, we have a saying, ‘Do Whatcha Wanna’. It was made famous (and maybe even coined) by Rebirth Brass Band in their 1997 hit song with the title. Essentially, the song is celebrating the freedom to do whatever you want. And, at CoupDose, we think you should be able to do what you want and earn a living. In order to find that sweet spot where doing whatcha wanna meets being compensated for it, you will need to get clear and define your niche.

Now, I don’t want you to get caught up in semantics. The word niche has several definitions, but you really only need to be concerned with two of them right now. The first definition, ‘a place or position suitable for a person or thing’. The second definition, ‘a distinct segment of a market’. (Thanks, Dictionary.com.) Now, regardless of how you feel about the word niche or the marketing concept of niching, I want to show you how niching can be a good thing if the overarching goal is always to do what you love and offer value to other people. And, after reading this post, you will have a clear action plan on how to finally decide on a niche and move forward with your business goals.

Step 1: Know What You Want

You love it. It doesn’t feel like work when you’re doing it. You can talk about it ad nauseam. You read tons of books about it. Actually, with all of your knowledge about it, you could write books about it. You are amazing at it. This thing is YOUR THING! Your niche is the place you belong doing what you love with an audience that you love, and excelling in business.

To help streamline your marketing efforts, your job is to focus on a specific thing for now that you can specialize in. It’s better to start with a small niche and expand later. Why? Well, if you know your niche inside and out and people like and trust you, they’ll be interested in more of what you have to say on broader topics or other products.

Start with the thing you love now, it does not mean that you are stuck doing it forever. You will be able to evolve and expand to other areas when you prove to yourself that you can excel in a smaller niche.

Act!

  • Sit for at least 20 minutes and make a list of all of your interests. What do you talk about at parties? In what field do you want to be known as an expert in? What do you think you could write a book about with no research?
  • Ask your parents, close friends, and family to name a few things that you’re good at or what they think your interests are. You don’t have to ask in person, send an email and/or post it on Facebook and tag your peeps.
  • Look at your list. If you had to talk about any of them for at least an hour a day for the next year, write about every day for the next year, or work on creating something for every day, which would remain? If you could wake up and be on the cover of Forbes for your business success, which of these interests would you want to be highlighted?

Once you’ve really narrowed down your interests, you should have more clarity to move on to the next step.

Step 2: Release Fear

We are all here for a reason. I know, I know. You’ve heard that a million times before, but if you’re still confused about what your niche is, what your purpose is, and what you should be doing, let’s get clear about it today.

We all have a special gift and talent that can offer tremendous value to the world and if we are truly honest with ourselves, we already know what that thing is. We have been getting clues about it since we were born.

Many of us don’t accept “our thing” out of fear. There’s fear of failure, fear of success, fear of rejection, fear of acceptance, fear of being broke, fear of being rich—so many fears. And that’s not all. There are these other things called cognitive biases: things that cause us to think in certain ways and can often be obstacles that block us from having the life that we want. There are tons of those that are blocking people from living their dreams. Make a decision today to overcome these obstacles, aggressively push through to finally having the life and lifestyle that you want by doing what you love and not later—now!

Act!

  • Make a decision to figure out a way to use your interests in building and growing your business. Decide that you want to be successful and dance with your fear. Action defeats fear. Start creating! If you want to start a blog, decide on how many posts you’ll write in the next year and start writing or hire a freelance writer. If you want to start a podcast, decide on how many you will do this year, and start recording!

Step 3: Define Your Ideal Audience

Right now, I’m talking about finding your thing, seizing your bliss, and utilizing your talents to help other people. By doing the aforementioned things, you are finding your niche in life and in business.

You get to live in that dream space where what you love and what you are good at merges with offering value to other people. And, yeah, it’s going to be a lot easier to find success if your niche can offer value to others.

Act!

  • Make a list of your ideal BUYERS and get really specific. What kind of people do you want to serve? Is it moms, single women, dreamers, college students, graphic designers, creative solopreneurs, dog owners, makeup lovers, artists, people who want to lose weight, musicians, etc.?
  • Once you know who you want to serve, it’s easier to have conversations with them to find out how you can help them solve a problem with your product or service, entertain them, or provide them with valuable information. Now, go have a conversation with them. Join forums and Facebook groups, follow group boards on Pinterest, read content from other websites in the niche or complimentary niches.

Step 4: Find Examples of Success

Do not doubt your niche! You might start thinking yourself out of why you can’t do the thing you love and be successful. Stop thinking that! Find examples of people who are kind of doing what you’re doing, and use them for inspiration.

You just need to find examples of people/businesses who are killing it in your niche. There are very successful coaches, consultants, 6-7+ figure chefs, makeup artists, painters, writers, YouTubers, bloggers, brow artists, retailers, online boutique owners, and fitness trainers in our world.

If you’re ready to seize your bliss and work smart, you can have that life and that business that you love too. Study your niche’s heroes and figure out what they are doing. You might have to dig to find those people, but once you do—jackpot!

Let’s say you think you’ve found a niche, but you can’t find evidence of it anywhere. You can follow that path, but know that it could be more of a challenge just because you don’t have a proven market or any stars in your niche. Find someone or some business as close to what you’re doing as possible and really study the niche.

Act!

  • Create a list of 20 people or businesses in your niche or in a complimentary niche.
  • List all of the things you admire about those people or businesses. What are they doing right?
  • Is your niche or specialty complimentary to another niche? Get to know the people in that field and begin a dialog through forums and on social media.

Step 5: Be Unique

Be inspired by what leaders are doing right, but do your own thing. Don’t copy! You want to take the very best of what they are doing right and make it exponentially better by imbuing it with a very special ingredient—you! Take great ideas, add a whole lot of you, let it marinate, and make it as unique as possible.

Act!

  • Find a gap in the market or something that you can offer that’s different and focus on creating a spin that’s all you. Do a Google search, look on LinkedIn, go to events where you might find your niche’s stars. You are going to study those people in your niche, interview them, subscribe to their e-mail lists. If they are accessible to you, take them to lunch, and ask them to mentor you. You’ll learn to avoid their mistakes and get to your dreams faster.

Step 6: Test The Market/Validate Your Idea

You can do anything you put your mind to with focused strategic action; however, it’s going to be easier and more profitable to choose a niche where people are already looking for value. You want to solve a problem, teach valuable information, or entertain your audience. Other people responding to your products and/or services is what’s going to make it easier for you to excel. You need confirmation from other people that you are headed in the right directions and yes, in fact, your dream place does exist.

Want to find out quickly if your niche will be profitable or not? Test the market.

A few years ago, I had an idea for a product. Rather than spending a small fortune getting it manufactured, I paid an Illustrator to make highly detailed digital prototypes of the product. I talked about it on social media, posted it to my blog, and sent emails to my audience to see if it’s something they would like. I got a lot of great feedback on the product, but soon discovered there was something on the market that was very cheap and was sufficient enough for the problem that my product also solved. So, I dropped that idea, and moved on to something else.

You only need to create a really basic version of your idea and get it out there to see if people bite. If people do respond favorably, you might consider moving forward with polishing up your product. If people do not respond favorably, you could keep going, but it might be a bit of an uphill climb.

Act!

  • Think of a customer you’d like to serve and ask them for their feedback on what you want to do. I suggest conducting these conversations in person, on forums, niche communities, via social media and basically wherever your customers reside. Don’t ask your friends and your family if they are not your audience. Try to have a conversation with at least 10-20 people that would be your potential buyers. Obviously, the more people you talk to, the better, but you should have a pretty good idea of if your product will work by deep diving with about 10-20 potential buyers.
  • Look on Amazon, are there any books about your niche? Does the book have many reviews, this is a hint of a profitable niche.
  • Search Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram for your words unique to your niche. Are thousands of people actively talking about this niche and using hashtags related to the niche? This could be the green light you need to move forward with your chosen niche.
  • Start small. Create you first product or prototype of a product as quickly and as affordably as you can, promote it like crazy with your friends, family, and networks for the next couple of weeks. Get some great photos/graphics and invest $50-100 in social ads and really focus on targeting your ideal buyers. If you have a low priced offer, you might consider just include a “Buy Now” sort of call-to-action, if your offer is pricey, you might offer a freebie or lower-priced offer and set up a landing page to capture email addresses. Are people responding, are people interested?

Decide and Take Action!

Think that you don’t have a niche or can’t think of one today? Just decide on one and be all about that life, be about action.

Decisiveness is a cornerstone of success. If you want a quicker route to your dream life and dream business, stop vacillating and decide!

Living a life without knowing your passion, but knowing the end result (your dream life) is kind of like driving to a place you’ve never been to with no directions or a place that you’re not sure truly exists. You can drive around your whole life like that, but don’t you want to get out of the car and finally get to that place, live in your bliss, and offer value to other people? Perhaps the thing that you decide on today is not what leads you to your ultimate bliss, but it will get you on the right path.

So, you have spent your precious time reading this. Now what? You are going to act on it! You are going to find your place in the world and people you can offer value to. You are going to find real world examples of people killing it in your field. You are going to start that blog in your niche, start that business in your niche, start writing those books, make a prototype for your product, and just make moves (big or small every day) to reach your goal.

What’s your niche? Who is your ideal audience? Did this post help clarify things for you or give you ideas?

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Action Plan: Build the Foundation for Exponential Growth

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When you’re attempting to grow your business, content is foundational to success. Obviously you want to have a product or service that the your ideal audience craves, but creating content that your users will love is the foundation for growing your business. If you want to learn more about what I’ve learned from over 10 years in the digital marketing space, keep reading!

Focus On Your Users

The most important thing in all of this is that you are happy. Well, that you’re happy and you are helping, entertaining, inspiring, or educating others. The first step is always to find your audience. If you have one already, good! If you don’t, get to work.

Find that sweet spot where what you want to offer fulfills the needs of your buyers. How do you that? You ask. You simply talk to them, be accessible, and open yourself to feedback. Always be in conversation with your people. Read your comments, reply to e-mails quickly, and pose questions.

Direct your attention and time on the social media platforms where your readers are. It doesn’t make sense to put too much energy into LinkedIn if your ideal customers are Pinterest users. You can acquire that sort of information from just knowing your users, or if you want to get really technical, use Google Analytics.

I also highly recommend doing a survey once or twice a year to keep up with your users and to see how your audience is changing. Feel free to experiment with different types of content and ask for feedback. You can also just look at the shares and comments you get when you publish experimental articles.

Overall, just make sure that everything you do is ultimately making you happy and is keeping your users coming back for more. You must offer value if you want to see exponential growth and increased loyalty. Give them so much value, that they can’t help but to love you.

What’s valuable? Well, anything that benefits your users. A practical way to make your business successful is to make your users satisfied. Create your content around insights that you’ve gained from your work, share secrets and tips that can help people maximize the use of your product(s). Helpful posts make sites grow. If your content isn’t going to be helpful to your readers, think twice before posting it.

If you want even more growth, use Google Analytics to find how people are getting to your site and use it to help you boost what you are doing right to attract traffic and fix what isn’t working out.

Good Design

Keep your website simple, clear, easy to navigate, and modern. For me, there’s no bigger turn-off than an out of date or cluttered site. Have you ever Googled something and clicked on a result only to be disappointed by the design. People don’t want to deal with small fonts, old Flash sites, annoying pop-up ads, disorganized, dark colored backgrounds, difficult to navigate, cluttered sites. Good design demonstrates your professionalism and that promotes trust and value. If you’ve cared enough to invest in your design, it shows users that you have your stuff together. Your site should also be responsive. We live in a world of laptops, smart TVs, iPads, Androids, and iPhones, you have to be able to deliver these users the same quality as desktop users.

Content Consistency

The more quality content you publish, the more love your site gets from your audience and from Google. The more Google loves your site, the more new people will discover it and love it too. Once you start focusing your content on your audience, be consistent. People and search engines love this!

Figure out how much new content you want to add and when you want to add it. It would be a good idea to use an editorial planner to plan out all of your posts.

How often should you post new content? Once a week should be the bare minimum if you are trying to grow your website, but more is often better. Never sacrifice quality for quantity. This is going to be hard work, but if you love what you do, it shouldn’t feel like work at all.

You should be creating content that is timeless and helpful and that means you can promote it now, refresh it (if necessary), repost it and promote it over and over again to attract new readers who may have missed it the first time it was published.

Make sure you open your posts with an amazing headline and a great hook to get people to click and be invested enough to finish reading your article. There’s not much time to capture a person’s attention once they land on your site. Those first few lines have to be succinct and enthralling (or at least interesting). Writers on the big blogs and news sites will write as many as 100 headlines before they find one that sticks.

Branded Images

Add compelling images to all of your posts and make sure they are cohesive with your brand. Having an image means an article is more shareable and a lot more likely to be read. Great photography is a must.

Think about the images that you love. What makes you love them? Is it a certain kind of lighting, a certain mood, or certain compositions that excite you? Can you recreate that either by buying stock photography, taking your own photos or maybe by hiring a photographer?

Pinterest can often deliver more traffic than Google if your audience is composed of passionate Pinterest users. If you can do video, that’d be a good idea too. Make sure you are using the right image resolutions. Pixelated, stretched out, blurry images are not fun to look at.

Fill a Gap

Have you discovered a gap in your niche? What’s the thing you think your niche is missing? You don’t always need to reinvent the wheel to find success. Oftentimes, you can offer value by simply finding a gap in the market and connecting the dots. Once you connect the dots, you can create content to fill that gap. You need to find a way to innovate in your niche. First, experiment and see how your audience is responding to it and go from there.

Make Friends

Connect with other entrepreneurs in your niche or in niches that are complementary to yours. Do interviews for their sites and interview them for yours. Partner up to create something amazing. If done right, it will pay off big time. Mention other business owners in your posts as examples. Go to conferences and network. Making friends is not only great for traffic, but you’ll create a community where you’ll get support, share ideas, brainstorm, and possibly build lifelong relationships.

Growth Mindset

Growing your business isn’t just a set of things to do, it is a mindset that should be guiding everything that you do. It’s a commitment to putting in work, developing your abilities, constantly sticking to your plan, and developing meaningful relationships with your users. You should always be learning and growing.

Grow Your List

Be sure to grow your list. If you’re giving away free stuff, it is a good way to stay connected with the people receiving it to keep them updated on what you are doing. Make it easy for users to subscribe to your e-mail list by placing an opt-in above the fold on your website. You should also consider adding an e-mail opt-in to your comments section for explosive growth.

Wanting to grow your business is a noble deed, but remember that a larger number of views is not always the most important thing. You could have an audience of over 1,000,000 viewers but only a fraction of those users might buy. You could also have a very small audience of highly engaged users that can allow for you to make a good living doing what you love.

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Action Plan: Create a Mind-blowing Content Strategy

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I don’t want to bore you with data from numerous studies that document the positive relationship between strategy and success. Nor do I want to bother with discussing the many studies that have been done on the correlation between having written goals and actually achieving said goals. All you need to know is that businesses and people that have strategies and written goals are much more likely to achieve their goals than businesses and people who do not have strategies or clear written goals. Here’s a plan on how to create a mind-blowing content strategy for your business.

Know Your Purpose

Understanding your company’s purpose is essential in creating your content strategy. Everything you do should align with your company’s purpose.

If your goal is to be generously (or at least fairly) compensated for the time and money that you spend investing in your business, then your overall purpose should have something to do with creating value for your users.

So, why do you do what you do? What value are you attempting to create in the world and who are you creating that value for? How can you best communicate your purpose to your users?

Know Your People

I think the easiest path to success is to actually have been a version of your ideal user. It is much easier to be successful if you are a part of the market that you are attempting to serve or if you once were. It’s much easier to deeply understand your user, know their struggles, and know how to serve them if you are in their shoes or if you ever have been. It is helpful to create an avatar of your user and the more specific, the better. Why? Well, your audience is your Khaleesi (or ruler/queen for non-Thronies). People respond better when they feel they are being talked to directly. Don’t you hate getting mass texts? Think about it like that. Wouldn’t you rather someone send you a message specifically tailored to you? It’s really that simple: in order to best serve your people, you need to truly know who they are.

So, who are your people?

  • How old are they?
  • What’s their educational background?
  • What’s their income level?
  • Are you speaking to men, women, transgender people?
  • Does gender even matter in your business?
  • Do these people work or are they entrepreneurs?
  • Where do they work?
  • Where do they live in the world?
  • What language do they speak?
  • Are they fun or serious?
  • Are they fans of Tupac or Biggie, Beyonce or Rihanna, Rachmaninoff or Tchaikovsky?
  • What are their current struggles and challenges as it relates to your industry?
  • What are their goals in relation to your industry?
  • Why do they love you?
  • What do they say about you?
  • What do they say to you?
  • What’s their perception of you?

 

It will be helpful to create a persona for your target user. Give them a name and a whole profile using the questions from above to help you start. Create as many as you like if you are serving a few different types of users.

Know The Others

You want to be different and you want to be better and for that you need to know the other people in your industry. You want to figure out how they write, the buzz words they are using, what they are doing right/wrong, and what you do differently.

  • What gaps can you find in their content?
  • What keywords are they ranking for?
  • What are their most shared posts or most popular pages?

Knowing the answers to those questions can help push you beyond your comfort zone to offer more value to your people. It can also help you to connect with other people to do guest posts or create a partnership. You can use tools like SEMRush, SpyFu, and Moz’s Open Site Explorer to help you get an overall picture of other people and businesses who are doing what you do.

Know Your Numbers

If you are serious about your business and I know you are because you are reading this, then you need to know your numbers. You need to have at least a general understanding of your analytics.

It is helpful to know how people are getting to your site, how they are using your site, how long they stay on your site, and why people are leaving your site prematurely. Knowing your analytics is also important for tracking your progress.

You will want to know your baseline numbers from the time you start your content strategy so that you’ll be able to see if your efforts to refine your content are giving you the results that you want. You also want to be able to tailor your content for the content that people and Google love.

Know Your Goals

The whole purpose of creating a mind-blowing content strategy is to map out a clear documented map towards your goals, but what are your goals?

Be as specific as you can. Make sure you can track the goals with your analytics. Keep your goals flexible. They should be a little out of your comfort zone, but not so much that you feel overwhelmed.

It would also be good to give yourself a deadline for certain goals. An example goal might be that you want to increase your pageviews by 10,000 views each month.

Know Your Content

After you have a clear picture of your purpose, your people, the other people in your industry, your numbers, and your goals, it’s time to get to work on your content. This part should be a breeze.

Where will you post your full content?

What platforms work best for your audience?

Does your audience prefer videos, reading blog posts, looking at pictures, or what?

Once that’s decided, it would be a good idea to create an editorial calendar.

How often are you going to post?

What social media sites are you going to use: Pinterest, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Instagram, or where else?

Go where your audience is. Don’t waste your efforts on a platform if your audience isn’t there.

Review your current content. What’s working? What’s not working? What are your most popular landing pages, how can you make them better? For your pages that aren’t doing so well, what can you do to promote them? Can you create more compelling headlines and intro paragraphs? Can you add better visuals? What articles can you update and add more resources to? Now, go do it!

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Action Plan: Craft an Uber Shareable Blog Post

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When I first started blogging back in the late 90s, I didn’t care about structure. I was an abstract poet and I was being rebellious against writing rules and, even though my blog had nothing to do with poetry, I just wanted to get out whatever I wanted to say and express myself without any structure. Fast forward to now, smarter and wiser, I know that readers crave structure and ease of use. Here are just a few tips to help you craft a shareable blog post.

Amazing Headline

This is probably the most important marketing piece of your entire post. Far more people will read your headline than your post. How crazy is that? Actually, it’s not crazy. It makes perfect sense. You know how it works when you browsing through your news feeds or Google, if the headline doesn’t grab you, you don’t click on it. Your headline should be to the point, clear, honest, descriptive, compelling, and attractive to your readers.

A few samples of epic headlines…

  • 4 Tips for _____ Your _____ _____
  • 10 Secrets for _____
  • How to _____ in under 10 minutes.
  • My Top 50 _____

The First Paragraph

If people have gotten past your headline and are on your page, you have to keep them there. The first paragraph is the hook. It’s where you grab your readers and give them enough of a reason to stay. It should show that you know what you’re talking about and/or that you can help your reader solve the problem right away. It should get straight to the point about what value you are going to provide for the rest of the post.

The Body

This is where you deliver on your promise that you made in the headline. Use your personality to communicate your objectives to your readers. Here is the place where you solve the problem or go into full detail of your story. Most readers are skimming articles and not really reading word for word so make sure you use bulleted lists and insert line breaks and/or spaces in your content whenever possible.

Wrap It Up

The conclusion is where most people slip up. It should summarize everything you promised in the headline and delivered in the body. It should absolutely always have a call to action and perhaps links to related blog posts, links to a sales page, or to a download. It might also be a good idea to ask a question of your readers to make sure they leave you comments.

Image is Key

All blog posts should make use of some sort of imagery. The image must resonate with your audience and it should be aligned with your branding. You can take photos yourself, create graphics in Illustrator/Photoshop or any of the free online services. Any way you decide to do it, your image should be crisp and high quality. This is crucial especially if you want to create an uber shareable post.

Now, Optimize

If you want people to find your site, you’ll have a much easier time if you make it easy for search engines. I have been using a free WordPress plugin called Yoast. It’s really easy to use and it is effective at making sure your post is optimized for search engines. You will also want to make sure that you categorize and tag your post for easier navigation. Categories are literally all of the different categories of your site. For this site I might use categories like “All About Branding ”, “Brainstorming and Mindmapping”, “Blogging Strategies”, “Growing Your Business”, “Get Technical”, and “Up With Social Media” and tags would be smaller topics covered in a post like “blogger”, “action guide”, “case study”.

Promote and Repeat

The last step in the goal of creating a blog post that people want to share is to promote the post. In whatever channel you see fit. Be it Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Google+, or all of the above. Share it and get it in front of your audience. Make sure to be as descriptive as possible and think about what terms users might use to find your content and use those words. If you have an e-mail list, send out a new campaign to let your people know about the latest addition to your site.

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