Whether you want to take your web working career into a different direction or you simply want a refreshing distraction from your regular web work, it’s likely that you’ll consider changing your niche market at least once in your career. What are the consequences of changing your niche? Is that even advisable? Also, how do you go about it?
The first thing you need to do is to understand how this affects your personal brand. If you’ve already established yourself in a particular niche, shifting to another one, whether completely or temporarily, might be confusing. It’s similar to having such a wide variety of jobs across several industries on your resume – from food service to law enforcement to art to dental hygienist. You risk looking unfocused or spreading yourself too thin.
Confusing as this may be for some people, the truth is that we are dynamic. This is especially true of web workers. We have a variety of interests and strengths which we can explore. However, if you want to be a known expert in one thing, establishing your expertise publicly may prove to be difficult if people see you working on several niches at once. But there are some workarounds:
Be clear about the niche or field you’re prioritizing in. This will especially help you when you’re making time-management decisions. Which field are you more passionate about? Does your website or blog reflect your own priorities? Devoting more blog posts or space to your priority niche will show your website visitors that your new niche is just a sideline.
Have different “storefronts”. If you want to be both an illustrator and a programmer, you might need different websites for each service. This will allow you to market and promote both services equally, without confusing your web site visitors in the process. The less related the two niches are, the more you need a separate storefront for each.
Find an intersection between your current niche to the one you want to shift to. If you can find some common ground between your current niche and your alternative niche, it’s best to start with that. If you’re known for making great Flash movies and you want to shift to SEO, consider making search-engine friendly Flash movies as your transitional move. Or, if you’re known as a problogger and you want to shift to web design, you can start by redesigning your own blogs and selling templates through your blogs.
Know your respective audiences. Each niche comes with a different target market – which means, you’ll be doing your research all over again. How do you communicate with this new batch of clients? What makes it different from how you handled clients from your original niche?
Learning to communicate better with your new audience will be a long process. While there may be some similarities between audiences from both niches, you still need to your research.
Realize that you’re virtually a beginner. If you’ve already made a name for yourself in your niche, don’t be surprised if you’re not known outside of that. For example, if you’re known for being a business blogger, you might have to go the extra mile to prove yourself if you’re shifting to blogging about food and wine. This can be especially tough on a personal level if you’re used to getting all the business blogging jobs you apply for.
Shifting to a different niche can be a welcome change in your career. But, like most major decisions, you’ll have to educate yourself and plan for the changes you’ll be making.
How many times have you changed niches or fields in your web working career? How was the transition for you?