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You Need to Find Your Niche (And How Mine Found Me Standing On My Head)

find nicheToday is a day unlike any others.

You’ve decided to lasso your dreams. You’re taking what you love to do. You’re going to make an income out of it. You’re charging forward to change the world. You’ll garner throngs of believers in your corner.

You even have a plan of action, such as Mirasee’s Audience Business Masterclass.

But when you come to that watch-word, that catch-phrase, What Is Your Niche?, you freeze. You sort of know your niche. You identify it, label it, research it.

But something just doesn’t feel right about it.

You narrow it, then you try to widen it. It could be this or it could be that – it’s not for lack of ideas – but finding the one that you stand up for, the one you put body/mind/soul and the next hundred years of your time behind.

You hesitate, dangerously hedging towards Merriam-Webster’s definition, “lazy“. You do know the Industry’s unspoken secret, “there exists no lazy entrepreneur in the history of business.”

Your trail is about to end. If you can’t settle on your niche, you won’t build an audience, you’ll never get your product sold, or book out to an agent, you won’t even create the right incentive.

Feet stuck in the sand. You start glancing over at the want-ads for a “job” as your heart sinks behind the setting sun.

This is exactly what happened to me, and yet, I did find my niche.

You’re Stuck in the Mud of Your Own Creation

I had a small business already, working with relationships between humans and animals. Also, I felt passion for my work as a teacher and practitioner of theater and dance. I felt my animal business was a shoe-in for a niche. Tons of potential pain to solve. Barking dogs! Peeing cats! Pain that my human customers were looking to me for help with.

But I hovered, not able to come to a clearly defined niche. Ideas raining like cats and dogs would evaporate before they hit the ground.

It wasn’t that I didn’t want to engage my customers, In fact, I loved the people and animals I helped, many which had grown into friendships over the years. My work was something I believed in. But I was accustomed to running freely like an unleashed dog, over a broad market.

When I tried tracking down what each potential niche involved, I -gulp- realized how much detailed involvement each would take, simply to write those guest posts for other similar businesses.

I started having animal-themed nightmares, which you can already guess: Balking like a sour horse! Ostrich head in the sand! Chasing my own tail.

What Are You Drinking if You Can’t Walk a Straight Line

You can imagine with a background in theater and talking to animals, that for me, looking at events straight-on isn’t the only way I figure things out. I thought I’d try to look at this business problem upside down and backwards.

I borrowed a technique from my theater occupation, which you can use to move forward. I teach my theater students to read a play backwards.

It’s like this: You start from the ending. Then, you list the play’s events from the end to the beginning. During this process, Patterns, Clues and Structure reveal themselves.

More than a few insightful surprises appear. It’s a visual form of standing on your head, allowing you to gain a new perspective of something you swear you know inside-out.

A detailed version of this technique is described, in David Ball’s book, “Backwards and Forwards.”

Backwards to the Future

 To apply this technique to my niche dilemma, I began with my Future vision and traced my steps Backward. I looked at who I wanted to spend time with in my Future vision, and what websites I admired. Many of these entrepreneurs are graduates of Audience Business Masterclass. Others included Brain Pickings Weekly, Ted.com, ShivaRea.com, and numerous design and artist’s sites, and of course, Mirasee.

I chose these ’cause they would be the places I’d have fun offering a guest post. Fun. Fun was my criteria. Insight followed.

Insight #1.  I noticed that none of them were directly connected to theater or animals.

Insight #2.  I didn’t have the skills they had! Even though I loved seeing what they offered, and enjoyed spending virtual time with them, I couldn’t compete in their areas for a penny’s worth.

But my next insight couldn’t be to give up my business, as I loved doing my work.

Insight #3: Instead of giving up, I could see now something was missing. I looked at the websites I desired to interact with. Maybe if I saw what they were about, I’d discover the missing desire in mine.

I saw a similar pattern in each one. It was a love of design. I also saw a focus around how we used energy and how we defined energy. I compared this to my work, which focused on relationships. I’ll never be an expert on design, and there are too many inspiring blogs in that field, anyway.

But “energy” … this was the link from these sites, to my work – in fact in both my teaching theater and my small business – and linking energy up with “relationships”. Now, instead of just talking about animals and relationships, or the artful body, I could write posts about the energy of many things.

How energy impacts our relationships and our ability to effectively change.

Energy could be body systems like chakra centers, or the science of thought which inspires us, or how animals and humans talk with each other.

Look at the websites you gravitate towards, in moments when you allow yourself just to goof or play. Don’t you want to spend more time there?

Name what you see in the site. Go on to the next and the next. Look at any patterns you uncover, especially the patterns that seem unrelated. Do they have anything in common? Now look backwards from this, to your current market.

How can you incorporate this pattern of fun into your market to create a niche that fits you?

Stepping Way Out of Line

I also did something you’ve done before. You’ll get new insights, if you stand it on its head.

I walked to the Metropolitan Museum. I’d add art links here, but you need to stand before the actual art, not a representation or virtual footprint, to experience the exercise and result. Any art gallery or museum will do.

Walk in and stand before art. You’ve done this before, but this time, stand before pieces that are bigger than you, size-wise and concept-wise.

It could be one piece or many pieces. You could stand for 30 seconds or 30 minutes in front of each one. You’ll begin to feel this exercise affect you, and in turn, your business. (In a similar way energy affects relationships… ahhh, now I can’t resist relating it back to my own new niche.)

You gain a different perspective of yourself in the world. If you look at Rubens’ paintings in the 17th century, you position yourself in a different place, than say, looking at your face in the mirror or asking advice from your friends. Or try Artemesia Gentileschi, or Diego Velázquez.

Once you try that, try this: look at the painting, then let the painting look at you. Then find a large painting and do the same. Size-wise, when you position yourself against large art (or nature as in the enormity of the mountains or the Grand Canyon), you change your placement in your perception of reality. What you compare yourself to changes your evaluation of what matters to you.

Take these perceptions and values you just experienced, and apply them to your niche ideas. Do you need to make adjustments in your niche for a closer alignment?

The walk to the Met was another use of involving energy and your inherent smarts towards problem solving that you can use to support your niche search. Walking involves bi-lateral movement, if you use your arms. Swinging your arms increases circulation to your brain, plus connecting your left and right side in a way that many experts believe trigger brain synapses.

To find my niche, I tracked down the energy backwards – from the end to where I currently stand. Now, I can rope in that catch-phrase, What Is Your Niche? with a clear view of who my audience will be. Now, I have examples of blogs, to either approach for guest posts or to use as visual mentors. My business and blog is umbrella’d under my ignited passions.

What clues can you discover by changing your placement (literally!) in the big scheme of your business? Let us know in the comments below.

About Christine Sang

Christine Sang works with energy and relationships as an international Animal Communicator, and as a Slash Artist of Theatre/Artist/Director/Performer, teaching at a University in the midst of New York City.

31 comments

  1. Joyce Kaiser says:

    Thank you for the post Christine! Very helpful. We’ve heard the adage ‘Begin With the End in Mind’ for years, but without the steps to get from there to here (and then here to there) it isn’t as helpful as it could be. Great visuals. Loved the post.

  2. MamaRed says:

    Oh, so love this approach Christine…as someone who has struggled with this question (especially since I’m known for providing great process and technology answers), this is fun and useful at the same time. I’ve known for a long time that I don’t really give a shit about those 2 topics…what I do care about is helping others get their voices heard, messages shared and the world transformed. I just happen to do that by helping others find kick-ass clarity and Taming the ContentBeastie! Now I have another tool to refine even further.

    Laugh Lots, Love More!
    MamaRed

    1. Christine Sang ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

      Well, you made me laugh, so you’re doing something very right! Your focus sounds wonderful and fun. I’ll look forward to hearing more from you, MamaRed!

  3. Julie says:

    Hi Christine, very thought provoking post, in fact absolutely ideal for me at the moment.

    I had a blog, but killed it because the concept just didn’t feel right for me, even though my niche was one that I have eons of experience in. Now, after much thoughtful consideration I’ve settle on another idea, which encompasses everything I am about, but still allows me to use my knowledge.

    So; yep, seriously thinking about your niche is mega-important

    Thank you, Julie

    1. Christine Sang ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

      Wonderful to hear this, Julie. It makes all the difference in the world to have something you desire to return to, in addition to the strength of having an intelligent perspective on your audience.

  4. Marcy McKay says:

    You have a fantastic view of business/life/the broader world Christine! This really spoke to me because the blogs I’m “supposed” to be following aren’t speaking to my heart, even though they’re VERY WELL DONE. I need to zero in more on my niche. I need to go backward in order to go forward…

    1. Christine Sang ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

      Hi Marcy, I know what you mean about following the duty blogs. I think finding the right niche has to speak to your heart. There are so many opportunities to become discouraged. If your niche does hook into your heart, you’re willing to fight for it and keep it alive. I mean, would you marry someone you found boring? 🙂

  5. Katharine ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Love the humor here!
    Just beginning to grasp the concept of the niche. Took me awhile. Thanks for this great angle on the whole awful thing! 🙂

    1. Christine Sang ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

      haha! thanks, Katharine. Yes, nothing like skiing uphill on the learning curve of niche concept! me, too!

  6. Patti weix says:

    Christine.

    Totally helpful post! I’m reworking my niche for the ABM class and am so happy to know how to put fun into it. That is what was missing now I’ll love being there too. Just love the process you described. Your personal walk through was inspiring, clear and FUN! Thanks you!

    1. Christine Sang ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

      Thanks, Patti! Yes, after working so hard at other jobs, I decided that for myself, Fun is an absolute. For me Fun means being creative.

      I’m so glad this process is helping you, too! Much better than hitting one’s head on the desk, and I know we’ve both had those moments 😉

  7. Chantal says:

    Thank you so much Christine.
    I, too, am in the performing arts AND I do deeper work with energy and inspiring people to think differently. And I have always had the challenge of finding my niche when it seemed a totally different way of presenting myself in each. Now I am ready to merge all aspects of myself because no matter where I am, what I am doing I am all about the honesty, the joy and seeing what’s really at work beneath a challenge, a limitation, an idea , a script or character. I am so going to do your exercise to gain insight and or confirmation of my energetic place in all of this. Thank you. This is exactly the article, or at least the author I have been looking for.
    No one quite gets this weird and wonderful industry that is entertainment that we love and the challenge of seemingly narrowing down (online) when we are so used to exploding and expanding outward 🙂 I will subscribe and look forward to your further posts.
    (Oh, and I think I just got even closer to my topic niche with this comment :D)

    1. Christine Sang ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

      This is very cool, Chantal. I’m sure people told you, too that if you are an actor, you can’t present yourself as a writer/director as well, as it’s confusing. But look at all our recent top-known artists in music and theater/tv/film. Recently, it seems it’s best TO present yourself as what I call a “slash” artist. It’s become a new umbrella.

      And yet, I agree with Danny’s recent post about establishing yourself in one thing at a time, and then bringing in other interests. But you can bring those in at some point!

      I, too, was very concerned at first about merging the two
      (my animal work and art), until I found the third, the Energy Umbrella. Honestly, before the EU, the combination seemed flaky! And confusing, even to me! Now, I think it works for me because I am emphasizing the correlations between the three.

      Thank you for your complement, and subscription, too. It helps me to know that writing is helping another being. I look forward hearing more from you, as well.

  8. Christine, what wonderful insight! As I was reading, I was applying this to other parts of my life as well, the spiritual side of course, and the business side, but also the personal side. It doesn’t go after “where do you want to be in five years”, but “where do you want to be NOW”. Thank you for the post!

    1. Christine Sang ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

      Hi Lavender Poet, I love that you are applying it all over the place!

      Yes, I agree, it is about fully right NOW. At the start, that is much harder than living towards what is 5 years from now, I find.

      But for me, it’s given me more in return, and faster too, which is an interesting personal measurement.

      You gave me an idea in your post, though. What if the “NOW” state isn’t working for someone? – what if you used this exercise to find perceptions of your future self in 5 years (as you imagine it) looking at you.

      You look at it (your imagined self in 5 years). It looks at you.

      It might quickly help you decide which of the plans/ideas you hold, are worthy of you.

  9. Deb Mitchell says:

    Christine, all I can say is ‘thank you.’ I’ve been trying to hone in on my niche for awhile now and I really appreciate your perspectives here… on perspectives!!! It’s absolutely true that flipping things around can reveal what’s missing, but I’d forgotten that. Many thanks for the (well stated) reminder!

    1. Christine Sang ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

      Well, thank you! and you are welcome, Deb. It’s so fun being a business detective and tracking down the clues … 🙂

  10. Paula Richey says:

    This hit home today – this is exactly what I needed to hear!
    I am going to have to go find some big art and try out your technique 🙂
    Your methods also remind me of another trend I’m hearing about lately – “forest bathing.” No, no Victorian claw-foot tub out in the forest involved (or even the hick version of an old washtub and a scrub brush out in the woods 😉 ) but the practice of going out to walk in some wilderness after a week spent cooped up in a gray cubicle in a steel and glass building in a grid of concrete roads.
    Thanks for helping remind humanity to stop thinking small and dull 🙂

    1. Christine Sang ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

      Hi Paula, what an image “forest bathing” brings up. What a perfect term. Thanks for reminding me, in turn. Such simple ways as nature, and as well, our animal relationships that restore our energy. How often we make it so hard for ourselves to take this in. Thanks for your lovely thoughts. (and funny ones too).

  11. Lynn Silva says:

    Hi Christine,

    I’m in that stage where I’ve nailed my niche but am challenged with putting it into words that potential customers can relate to and developing marketable products. It’s thae ‘so now what’ stage. : )

    I’m actually eager to go try this. We are planning a trip to to San Luis Obispo, CA where there is a myriad of art galleries. It suddenly occurred to me while reading this that the whole reason I view the art is because of the energy that ignites inside me when I stand before a particular piece. I know within a few seconds whether to remain still and view it or to move on. Your post made me realize that it’s because of the energy the piece provokes. In the past, I’ve been able to tap into that energy, but I’ve yet to do it with the thought of my business in my mind. Thanks so much for a positively ‘energizing’ and unique approach. I have a feeling it’s going to bring some wonderful inspiration.

    1. Christine Sang ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

      Oh! San Luis Obispo is lovely! Lucky you for spending some time there.

      Lynn, here’s an idea. You could make it a “business trip.” Bring a notepad and a pen, and here’s what I would do.

      I’d set aside an hour in the morning at one of the galleries. I’d find a piece of art I resonated with, and a place to sit so I could be comfortable. Sitting there, taking in the art and the atmosphere, I’d throw thoughts down on the notepad continually for the next hour. Let the energy tell you what needs to be on the page, while keeping your business in mind.

      It’s wonderful that you already access art-energy. I’m excited for you, and what your trip will give you. Thanks so much for writing, Lynn, and have a great trip.

  12. Sharon Roe says:

    It was totally encouraging to hear that a) you started from a similar point to where I am standing now and b) that you used such creative ways of solving the issue! I tend to forget that “facing things head on” actually wears many different faces, and choosing a less direct one can be a very effective way to work my way through something. Not climbing over the issue or obstacle by sheer toughing it out, or going under it by avoiding it and picking up another path, but through it.

    1. Christine Sang ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

      Yes, Sharon, I really struggled with finding my niche. I’d say at least six months worth!

      I kept going around in circles. I’d have a solution, but after a day or so, it didn’t feel right. It seemed like someone else’s answer.

      But, boy, it feels wonderful now. Once this made sense to me, all the other components like website/topics, etc, were clear.

      I encourage you to keep at it, because you can find it, and love it. Then, hearing how you figured it out, will help me keep going, too.

    1. Christine ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

      Thanks so much for your interest, Steve!

      What I also find from feedback of my students who have tried this, is that actually doing the exercise (rather than thinking about it and understanding it that way), amazes them.

  13. Kate says:

    What you compare yourself to changes your evaluation of what matters to you. – do you mean as in choosing a random object or idea to which to compare, or choosing solely those objects or ideas that already resonate with you?
    Can I take a theater classes of yours?!
    Thoroughly enjoyed this post Christine, with your discovery about energy in relationships and change – and new perspectives all because of it.

    1. Christine ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

      Kate, so fun to hear your response! I would start simply with looking at an actual physical object, and then imagining what it would be like if it looked back at you. That experience alone, can shift your normal perceptions of who you are.

      It’s fun too.

      I find this being looked at/looking at exercise never feels “normal,” but after you’ve got the hang of it, then you could add in objects or ideas you resonate with.

      Keeping it simple at first, will allow you to fully experience it.

      Thank you for asking about my classes, too. I coach privately and teach theater group classes primarily in Los Angeles and New York City (whereas my animal clients reach me from everywhere). Anyone, of any experience level, is welcome. Where are you? Keep me posted, and thanks again, Kate.

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