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if you’re stuck with who, go back to what – seven thoughts on niching from the inside out

Niching can be hard.

And sometimes people can just feel so stuck in the process.

So here’s my thought of the day: If you’re totally stumped on the WHO go back to the WHAT.

I just had a kick ass conversation with my friend and colleague Rebecca Tracey of The Uncaged Life (the beauty pictured here). Besides introducing me to The Middle Finger Project (swoon!) we also had a really in depth conversation about this whole notion of niching by being more authentic so that your ideal clients can really feel if working with you is a fit, if they resonate with you.

Rebecca is all about drinking in and taking advantage of everything life has to offer. In a word? Adventure.

Her website is sassy, bad ass, contains strong language (my favourite: amazeballs) and is incredibly real.

Her lifestyle? She drives around the country in a van with her boyfriend rock climbing and running her business from her lap top. Every day she helps people be more real about what they really, really, really want from their life.

So, we chatted about her thoughts and experiences on the connection of ‘being real’ and ‘niching’. Here are some main thoughts that came out.

But here’s the METATHOUGHT: with niching you can start with WHO you want to reach or you can start with who YOU are what YOU want to offer and then notice who responds to it. You can craft something with remarkable honesty and care and then put it out into the world and see who responds and ask yourself, ‘who might love this thing?’ and ask around. The more genuine you’re willing to be in the creation of your offer the more likely you are to get honest responses.

If you’re totally stumped on the WHO go back to the WHAT.

Consider niching from the Inside Out. Consider starting with the ‘art’ of it – with creating something amazing and then asking yourself who might particularly love that. It’s like you’re making a painting and then stepping back and asking, ‘now who could I wrap this up for and give to as a gift?’ Rather than thinking, ‘Ah! It’s Mary’s birthday. What can I make her?’ Both approaches work. Both are wonderful. Both result in people tearing up with mouths open wide as they unwrap the most thoughtful gift they’ve ever received.

But again – if you’re totally stumped on the WHO go back to the WHAT.

THOUGHT #1: Let Go of Competition. Yes you can try to win by being first, or by being better than others. But that’s hard. And they’re not the only way. You can also focus on being different. And, even more profoundly, on being resonant. The marketplace does not need to resemble a blood red ocean littered with the corpses of those who tried and failed in the market place. The ocean is huge and blue. Go find your own space in it. How? By being yourself with more realness and courage than you have before. The more you bring YOU into your business, the more unique and resonant it will be. A niche isn’t just your target market – it’s your place in the world. The word ‘niche’ comes from the old french verb ‘nicher’ – to make a nest.

THOUGHT #2: Focus on Lifestyle. A strange angle for finding your niche? Perhaps. Here’s the logic. Most people make the mistake of trying to make enough money to one day have the kind of lifestyle they want. What if, instead, you started with the lifestyle you want and backed your business into that?

How does this relate to niching?

Well, let’s say that you are a night owl and are most productive from 11pm – 2am. What if you offered coaching sessions then? “WHAAAAAT?? No one would want a coaching session at 1am!” Says who? Have you tried? Most mom’s I know have their secret open time late at night. Some people work swing shifts. Imagine that! You might not need to conform to the 9-5 time scheme.

Your choice of lifestyle might just determine who’s a fit for you. Rebecca lives in a van. Holy shit. There are people who will hear that and think, ‘Wow. She is the life coach for me.’ The lifestyle you choose will shape what you offer, when you offer it and how. And that will shape who responds to you.

THOUGHT #3: What’s Missing? Rebecca shared the story of a yoga teacher friend of hers who got sick on the typical yoga classes of softly spoken words, chants and incense. She was craving something more real. So it was scary but she wanted to find her yoga rather than doing the yoga everyone else was doing. 

Rebecca spent hours looking at other life coaches websites and feeling like they were all so bland and boring and not what she was about. She felt that there was something missing – and that helped shape her sense of what she wanted to offer. Look into the world, look at the others who are offering what you are and ask yourself, ‘what’s missing here?’ and then notice what is drawn out of you as a result. Notice how you crave to fill that gap. And trust it. If you’re craving it, the chances are that other people are too. If everyone is doing the same thing – don’t be afraid to do the exact opposite.

THOUGHT #4: Accentuate the Positive, Eliminate the Negative. Make a list of everything you love about doing what you do. Everything that brings you alive. All the things that have you lose track of time.

Really sit with it.

What are the tasks, the moments, the pieces of what you do that you love so much. Then ask yourself, ‘why?’ for each of them. This will take you right to the very heart of your bigger ‘why’ – the bigger cause your business is about.

But next, make a list of everything you hate about your business that you think you should do or need to do to be a success. Maybe it’s certain kinds of paper work. Maybe it’s the finances. Maybe it’s leading workshops or going to networking events. 

And then?

Figure out how you can get more of what you really want and figure out how you can get rid of the pieces you don’t like. Can you just let them go? Get someone else to do them? Or just decide that, instead of making them ‘shoulds’ you could realize that these are things you actually WANT to do. Bottomline: want your business to be more attractive to other people?

Start by making it more attractive to you.

THOUGHT #5: Trust That the World That Birthed You Wants You. So many people have a deep fear that if they were to truly be themselves then they’d be ‘too much’ for people. And that’s bullshit. People might tell you that you’re too much, but that’s 100% their stuff.

While it might be true that they want something different that’s not the same as you being too much. But our culture is a judgmental one. So, instead of saying, ‘You know . . . I think I’ve got a higher need for order in my environment than you.’ we say, ‘You’re a slob.’ Instead of saying, ‘I think I’m needing more space for myself right now.’ we say, ‘God. You’re so needy.’

But, I want to invite the possibility that there are a group of people in the world who, when they meet you will say, ‘Wow. Where have you been my whole life?’

And the more healing you engage in, the more honest you’re willing to be about past struggles . . . the more you let people see you – the more people will see the real you and you dramatically increase your chances of being discovered by the people who are already looking for someone just like you. But if you disguise yourself as a typical whatever (e.g. life coach, carpenter, mechanic, massage therapist, grocery store owner, restauranteur etc.) then the people who are looking for you might just walk right past you.



“You didn’t come into this world.

You came out of it, like a wave from the ocean.

You are not a stranger here.”

– Alan Watts




THOUGHT #6: Notice Who Inspires You.  Research what others in your field are doing around the world. Notice who inspires you and why. And ask yourself how you can bring more of that into your work.

THOUGHT #7: Notice What You Do That Impresses People. What is it you do that seems to impress people? You might be able to teach that. We’re often really good at certain things that seem like second nature to us and they don’t occur to us as particularly remarkable. I lead workshops on a Pay What You Can basis. From my eyes that was just me hustling and trying something new.

But it blows some people’s minds.

I travel the world teaching marketing to hippies – from my eyes – that’s just me hustling and doing gigs. For others it’s an incredible lifestyle. Where do people get jealous around you? Notice that. It might be a doorway into something you’re really good at that you didn’t realize. Rebecca lives in a van and rock climbs all day with her boyfriend. That blows some people’s minds that that’s even an option.

Once you’ve identified that – consider this: what it you taught others how to do that? Instant Niche Project.

If you’re totally stumped on the WHO go back to the WHAT.


Want Help? If you’d like some more direct guidance and hand holding on figuring out your niche then go and check out my Niching for Hippies coaching program https://marketingforhippies.com/niching-for-hippies/

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