Which way will lead to a more profitable portable career?
Offering to do “everything” in your industry, or offering a service or product that’s very specific?
If you’re a writer, will you write everything for everyone? Well, maybe you could, but how would you market your services? How do you stand out from the crowd?
You’ll go farther, faster, if you carve out a narrow niche for yourself. When you do that you can develop a reputation for excellence and expertise, and you’ll become the go-to writer, photographer or coach for that industry.
You’ll find it’s easier to find work that pays well and you’ll spend more of your time on projects you can bill for and less of your time beating the bushes for work. (I don’t know about you, but I’d rather spend my time exploring my new country than looking for clients.)
A Narrow Niche is Better
If you’re using a blog to attract clients or customers, you’ll see better results when you have a narrow focus. That’s why, for example, I focus on portable careers for expats, flexpats and digital nomads instead of on every facet of the location-independent life.
Some niches are incredibly narrow. And, frankly, I’m kicking myself for lack of foresight.
You see, some years back I ran a website on a controversial niche topic. It wasn’t actually a blog because blogs didn’t exist back then, but it would certainly be a blog if I were starting it today.
But I digress. . .
It became stressful and demanding, and I recognized I needed to do something to get out from behind the computer on a regular basis. So I thought, “what would be fun?” — and I went to Disney World as a part-time employee. (Disney calls them “cast members.”)
And it was fun, for about 18 months. When it stopped being fun, I left. But I still loved Disney. We went often, had annual passes in fact. And I wish I had the foresight at that time to create a Disney-related website.
- It would have been a lot more fun that actually working in the park
- It could have attracted an enormous audience
- It could have generated a lot of income
- I could have spent as much time as I wanted at Disney — any Disney park in the world, in fact — and my expenses would have been tax deductible
Does it get any better than that?
Recently I’ve been looking at some of the more successful blogs that appeal to Disney fans. Some are general like The Disney Blog, run by my friend John. He writes about everything: famous stars who got their start as Disney employees, more Brazilians in the parks than ever before, upcoming events, new rides, conservation efforts and bird counts at the Animal Kingdom.
There’s another one that’s uber-specific. It’s called The Disney Food Blog, and the only topic is the food served throughout Walt Disney World in Florida.
Of course, he includes stunning pictures (take a look at this one) that make your mouth water. He makes his money selling guidebooks to the food at Disney’s parks.
If you check out his About page, you’ll see he’s really following his passion:
“My favorite thing to do in Disney Parks and Resorts is eat. And you should admit right now that you love it, too. I don’t know about you, but my Disney Vacation starts with restaurant planning, and I’ll take any opinions I can get (especially if there are pictures attached to the opinions!).”
Another blog, called Mouse Steps, features walking tours of the Disney World parks and resorts through photographs.
There’s another blog devoted to documenting the “hidden Mickeys” at Disneyland, California.
“So what does this have to do with me and my portable career?” I hear you ask.
The Disney Food Blog and Mouse Steps don’t try to write about everything Disney. By maintaining a super-narrow focus, the blog’s authors get to follow their passions (food, walking tours and photography) while appealing to a pretty extensive audience (Disney).
They’ve parlayed their passions into narrow, profitable niches for selling information products, advertising and affiliate links.
Choose Your Portable Career Niche
So, once you’ve decided you want to become a travel writer, or a stock photographer, or a life coach, narrow it down. Think in terms of who you’ll want to attract and/or sell to.
Ask yourself what you can focus on to get their attention and set yourself above your competition?
Here are some other examples of freelancers who’ve successfully captured small, profitable niches for themselves:
A successful copywriter who loves pets and has experience in the pet industry decided to focus on pet copywriting. She created a new professional website called Pet Copywriter. And she watched her copywriting business take off.
A photographer friend specializes in weddings. Well, lots of photographers do that, but Rich’s photographs aren’t your standard wedding pix. As he states on his website, “Stop. If you are looking for your standard ‘two hearts beat as one,’ photographer, and that beat is not to the sound of your own drum Then you are in the wrong place.”
Isabel Eve Bohrer focuses on the educational component of travel writing.
A life coach offers her services to help the accompanying spouse in an overseas job relocation. . . a travel writer devotes herself exclusively to high-end spas. . . you get the idea.
The trick is in combining what you love with your experience and skill in a unique way.
We’ll spend more time on this topic soon.