Why Choosing To Niche My Services Was The Best Decision Ever
Like most entrepreneurs, I started my small business journey by offering to do anything and everything in my skill set. My extensive experience in social media management and digital marketing led me to market my services for all social media platforms, blogging, email marketing, and website building.
Talk about a Jill-Of-All-Trades!
While offering all these services might be great for a digital marketing agency, there were several reasons why, as a solopreneur, it was just too much.
I didn’t actually like all of the work I was doing.
I disliked being tied to Instagram (before scheduling was allowed) for client content and while I love blogging as a content medium for myself, I dreaded doing it for other businesses.
It was exhausting to constantly be asking clients for pictures/content to post on social media. Most of my clients were happy to outsource their Facebook/Instagram/Twitter posting, but didn’t realize they’d still have to provide me with quality images of their business and products.
There is/was a misconception about social media services.
I love working with small business owners - where I feel like I can make the most impact. The issue I kept bumping into, however, was the erroneous assumption that you just need to pay your nephew $10 an hour or $5 a tweet to post on social media for you and some magical social media pixie dust would explode your traffic and sales.
A great social media strategy not only looks at the big picture of your business, but works seamlessly with your entire marketing strategy, both on and offline.
That kind of experience and talent costs money - it’s really a VP of digital marketing role. Most small business owners I talked to loved the idea of getting their digital marketing and social media done right, but couldn’t wrap their heads around the cost.
I fully admit it’s possible I was not conveying the value of what I could do, but I was simply tired of banging my head against that wall.
Client boundaries were an issue.
Not only is it tough to maintain normal working hours in an online, 24/7 industry - but the clients I had expected me to be available at all times because they were paying me well.
My entire adult career I have worked in situations that were 24/7. As a Special Agent I was on call at all times and often worked for 16+ hours at a stretch. One of the main reasons I left that career was I couldn't take not being in charge of my own life anymore.
When I started working for Megadeth and Dave Mustaine, I was subject to the around-the-world time zones and getting in trouble for not catching a hateful comment on Facebook because it was posted at 3AM.
When I had a client Facebook Message-ing me, knowing I was on my first vacation in 4 years, I knew something had to change.
MY ENTREPRENEUR LIGHTBULB MOMENT
The vacation I mentioned above was not only for my 15-year wedding anniversary, but it was the first family trip we had taken that was not to visit extended family. It was just the three of us in a beach house for 5 days and it was glorious.
I had prepped and scheduled all my client work, notified everyone that I would be completely unavailable, and set my out-of-office email responder on.
I did not take my laptop or any other work and I planned on being pretty much unplugged. I did have a tablet for web surfing (not work) purposes.
Two major things happened on that trip…
On day 2 the client I mentioned above messaged me on Facebook. They had decided to hire the Facebook Ads person I used behind my back (likely assuming that I would markup services), but they were messaging me about ads...on my vacation...for something they were not even paying me for… UN-FRIKKEN-REAL.
I found when I was done with beachcombing, reading, and exploring - I was surfing on Pinterest - because I wanted to and I loved it.
Lightbulbs started going off in a major way.
I knew I was tired of doing probably 75% of the services I was offering clients, but I was afraid of shooting myself in the foot and turning away work.
Does that sound familiar?? I think every entrepreneur has been through this fear and process.
You know how we tend not to change until the situation becomes more unbearable than the worst (often imagined) possible outcome? Yeah, that was where I was at.
So I started thinking objectively about all the factors and chewing on what I knew.
I knew I would need to extricate myself from this particular client. That problem solved itself when they tried to skip out on their contract. Amazing how the Universe works, right?
I knew that I had to create proper client boundaries. I set up a landing page on my website for all new clients (update: I’ve since moved this landing page to a private Client Portal on Podia*)
The client welcome page clearly lays out not only my time and responsiveness boundaries, but tells the client what they can expect from me and how we can get the most out of working together. It outlines my commitment to them and what I need to do my best work.
Next I started evaluating Pinterest as my potential niche. Here’s what I know about Pinterest:
I love it as a platform that I use in my own personal life. It was what I chose to do for fun on my vacation!
I get around 80% of my social media traffic from Pinterest (and had been for a few years).
I consistently build my email list from the marketing funnels I have set up as part of my Pinterest strategy.
It is easy to see the ROI in stats and analytics directly relating to Pinterest, vs. the nebulous “brand awareness” concepts of most other social media platforms.
I have the ability to create and re-create simple, easy marketing funnels with Pinterest and my content that works for my business over and over.
Those factors not only applied to me and my business, but I was getting the same results for the clients I was doing Pinterest services for.
Can you say forehead-smacking, duh moment?
PINTEREST IS MY JAM + I WAS GOING TO MAKE IT MY NICHE!
The other service I knew I would continue with was building semi-custom Squarespace websites.
Building websites is the way I get to be the most creative in my business. They are also projects with a start and end date (unlike my long term Pinterest services), so they’re a nice change of pace.
I also knew that I can get myself and my clients’ tons of website traffic all day long from Pinterest, but if the website that traffic is landing on sucks, you’ve missed an opportunity to build a customer relationship.
Offering Pinterest and Squarespace services is my way of providing awesome-sauce digital marketing magic pixie dust - in a way that aligns with my values and skill set - without feeling like I need to do all the things for my clients.
It’s been a year-long process to niche into Pinterest and Squarespace.
I’ve had resistance I’ve had to overcome (both from myself and others), and I’ve had to refine my funnels and marketing several times. But it’s been so worth it.
THE BENEFITS OF NICHING I'VE EXPERIENCED ALREADY:
My peers and network know how to refer me to potential clients. Before people had trouble explaining exactly what I did and who I did it for. I got the occasional referral from existing clients but it was barely a trickle of new work.
Now, when people mention Pinterest, my name comes up often and with enthusiasm. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told, “I hear if I want to really use Pinterest for my business I need to talk to you!”
I’m getting tons of great exposure. Now that I’m being referred as a Pinterest expert for online entrepreneurs, I’m getting public relations exposure like never before. In the last 4 months I’ve been interviewed for 6 podcasts, written 1 guest article, recorded a presentation for an online Pinterest conference, and been invited as a main speaker to The Coterie Retreat - a luxurious conference for wedding industry professionals.
I have a whole new level of expertise.
Ever hear the phrase, “Jack of all trades, master of none”?? That’s how doing all things digital marketing felt to me. I knew I was at a high-level of knowledge and experience, but I felt like I couldn’t keep up in the way I wanted to while I was also wearing all the hats in my business.
Now that I’ve let go of all the rest, I am able to deep dive into Pinterest like never before. Instead of trying to fit businesses into a Pinterest mold - I am able to strategize how Pinterest can be used to work for their business (not the other way around).
It’s fun, challenging, and inspiring for both me and my clients.
I’m able to be the CEO of my business.
MORE TIME FOR ME
Pinterest is known as the “introvert’s platform” and it’s far more hands-off than other digital marketing. This has allowed me to scale by being able to take on more clients for less time.
The time I have back has let me fine-tune my systems and processes within my business - for everything from client onboarding, to bookkeeping, to reporting.
While Squarespace is not the focus of my services (Pinterest is about 80% of my income), the free time has also let me educate myself on a better understanding of CSS and website design.
I’ll wrap up this post by saying that nothing else I have tried in my business in the last 4+ years has catapulted me to the next level like niching into Pinterest and Squarespace.
I have never felt more aligned with my personal and professional priorities or loved the work I do so much.
It didn’t happen overnight and it certainly wasn’t always painless or a clear path - but it was worth every ounce of effort.
If any of my journey to niching down hits home for you, I encourage you to take some time to have your own lightbulb moments about your business.
Want to know more about what I do?
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Hey hey, I'm Cara - Pinterest marketing evangelist and lover of all things Squarespace website design. I team up with online entrepreneurs to get tons of website traffic into sales funnels (marketing speak for getting eyeballs on your website and turning them into customers).
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