Recently, I made a huge business decision. To niche i.e basically hone in on who I am serving as a business and completely restructure my products and services to serve that stream of audience. Oh, was it hard! I have had the best clients from different creative fields and the best experiences working with them. I've never once had to go out looking for clients, they've always found me. When it comes to business, it's so hard to find something that works in the first place, so why would I want to change something that’s working, right? Yet, I've decided to ahead and niche down to serving creative women running product based businesses. This specifically refers to makers, independent artists, physical product sellers, handmade sellers and online shops. Why, exactly? That’s what I am delving deep into in this post.
Go niche or go nowhere. Here's what I call the blue apple strategy. It's hard to stand out and get noticed when you are a red apple in a big basket of red apples. Right? But if you were a blue apple in a basket of red apples? Now that's something to sit up and notice. Yeah? I want to be the blue apple. I want to boldly bring out what makes my business different and own it. I want to serve my audience in a way that only I can. I want to own my unique set of skills, my story and the expertise I bring to the market. And I mapped this all out.
If you are in a place in your business where you are wanting to transition or find a new direction, I strongly encourage you to explore the blue apple strategy for yourself too. How can you be the blue apple? Note: This idea is basically a variation of Seth Godin's Purple cow or the blue ocean strategy, but I am giving it my own spin.
Over the past 3 years, I‘ve have worked with over 40 clients in the online business space. Photographers, bloggers, brand designers, CPAs, product shops and more. And although I‘ve loved creating unique brands and websites for them, I‘ve always noticed the lack of tangible results of my work - how much has my website design skills benefitted my clients in terms of actual growth? What is the ROI on investing in a new website? Is it just a more clean and strategic design that increases traffic? That was just not cutting it for me. You see I am a numbers gal and I like seeing tangible results for my clients : growth in revenue, sales, conversion rate, email subscribers.. these things light me up. And that’s when I feel like I've truly brought value to my clients. After working on a handful of e-commerce projects, I started to realize that I enjoy them a LOT more. And while there maybe other marketing efforts that leads to growth, a strategic web design has a HUGE role in increasing profits for an online shop. And that excites me.
In the website design space, I started to see a surge of Squarespace designers. Wordpress was a close second. I have worked extensively with both Squarespace and Wordpress but I just couldn’t see myself being a part of this very saturated space.However I noticed that Shopify was a platform that didn’t have too many web designers and developers in the creative online space. There was an actual need. There are so many product-based creative businesses that need strategic websites but there wasn’t much supply. Being a natural at coding, I loved diving into Shopify and learning the ropes. I love the platform and it is by far the best in the e-commerce space. So I decided to just dive deep into it. Also basically: When everyone zigs, we zag ;)
I am a professional software engineer, so the coding jazz comes naturally to me. I did my Masters in Computer Science with a major in data mining and analytics which led me to work as a Business Intelligence consultant early in my career. That experience truly enriched my skills to view and analyze data and provide insights and strategies that could take e-commerce businesses to the next level. Combining web design with my strategic mindset for e-commerce made perfect sense and gives me an edge over the competition. Secondly, if you’ve followed me for a while, you know photography is a huge part of my business. I have several articles on iPhone photography and teach an online course that teaches creative women on how to take stellar photos for their business using their iPhones. On surveying my students in the course and email list, I got to know that many of them were actually product sellers who wanted to take great product photos that helped them sell their products. And they wanted an easy, affordable way to do it. Additionally over the past 2 years I received a lot of enquires for product photography which made me realize that I could combine my web design and product photography skills to serve the online shop owner space. A win-win in my books!
Being a multi-passionate business owner, it was getting harder to refine my services and products. I am passionate about web design, photography and business strategy. By talking about everything to everyone made it confusing to both myself and my audience. When you are trying to talk to everyone, you are not really talking to anyone. So focusing my efforts on the e-commerce space makes it clear to me about who I am serving and speaking to. Knowing what moves the needle in my business and where we are headed makes it easier to say a clear YES or a NO to opportunities that come my way.Niching is down right uncomfortable. By saying yes to a smaller audience you are saying no to everybody else which is downright scary. But, it can be fulfilling. It can position you as an expert. It can get you noticed. It can help you grow. And it can open up new possibilities. Well, if there’s just one thing I‘ve learnt from running this business, its that change is the only constant. You just have to embrace being fluid, flexible and adapt to the changes that will grow your business.