When it comes to running a business, there is a saying that goes “the riches are in the niches” which centers on the thought that if you focus your service or product in one area, you can generate more revenue because you now are considered “specialized”. This really should be accompanied by a proven track record, experience, and or education to back up the claim as a specialist.
As someone who started as a jack-of-all-trades photographer, I believed this was the right approach for my business. In my mind, if I offered all types of photography services (families, weddings, seniors, newborns, dogs, etc.) I would be casting a bigger net into the client lead pool.
However, after years of offering every type of photography under the sun, I realized there were some types of photography I loved and felt so much more drawn to as a creative. On the flip side, there were other types of photography I really didn’t like and I would dread once the day came to shoot.
So if I loved some types of photography, and dreaded others, why continue to offer both? Why wouldn’t I just pick one that I loved and knew I was good at?
Spoiler alert, eventually I did pick, but it took several years of burnout, fear of choosing, and overcoming a severe case of indecisiveness to make a change.
Flash forward five years later, I now know that making the decision to niche down my photography business was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I’m able to shoot what I love and have embraced my confidence in being able to say “I specialize in brand photography”. My only regret is wishing I had made the decision sooner. So if you are sitting there, wanting to niche down, but crippled by indecisiveness and fear, I’ve got a few tips for you.
Take note of what you love/don’t love when offering services or products
Start keeping a running list of projects/types of work you are loving/not loving and why. The difficult part of this action is being truly honest with yourself. I know there were many times I ‘told myself’ I loved something just because I felt I needed to love it in order to grow my business. If you’re finding that certain projects or tasks are pushed out to the last minute, or you are constantly avoiding them, that’s a good sign that it may be work you don’t love. On the flip side, if you are finding yourself excited to work on tasks or overjoyed with new clients of a certain project type, that’s a good sign it may be work you love.
Understand what it will take to only specialize in a certain offer
Once you know what you love, and are experiencing those thoughts of niching down, I recommend you start a list of what it will take to specialize in this service/product/offer. As someone who moved away from being a wedding and family photographer, to a personal brand photographer, I knew there were certain things that needed to be done as part of that transition. I needed to improve my portfolio, get my pricing outlined, redo the copy/layout and in some instances the design of my website, and update my social handles/bios to reflect this new specialty and attract this clientele. Doing this helped me see a path to move forward, eliminating some of the unknowns that were causing my fear of niching-down.
Make a financial plan
This means understanding how you will phase out work you will no longer be offering and at the same time building out pricing for your new services or products. This usually results in a transition year, where you will wrap up projects you no longer want while going all-in on attracting new clients/customers who want your chosen niche. For example, my transition year involved shooting wedding clients that had already booked out, and passing on new inquiries (as often as I could) that were for projects I no longer wanted to photograph. This meant that in some instances I still took on small projects that were outside my newly established niche. Let’s face it, in the end, you have to make sure you have a roof over your head and food on the table so you may not be able to quit cold turkey. However, the goal of this transition year was to do all the tasks listed in my plan so I could confidently see myself as specializing in personal brand photography. After about a year of transition, I was finally booking the clients and projects I wanted and had the full ability to say no to anything that fell outside of my newfound niche.
When it comes to niching down, overcoming fear and indecisiveness is no easy task. Feeling like you might be making the wrong decision, fear of lost revenue, or even experiencing sadness in letting go of certain projects, can severely hinder business growth and well-being for entrepreneurs. So if you’re nearing a feeling of burnout and have more negative feelings versus positive feelings about certain work, perhaps it’s time to evaluate whether a shift in your services or products is needed.