If you’re looking for a new job or feel like exploring an entire new career, why not turn your niche into a basis for it? Not only will the work be more enjoyable to do, but your expertise will help you produce better in the long run.
Let’s explore why you should base a career off a niche and how to do so.
Why Target a Niche
There’s a very good chance there’s something you specialize in. Perhaps you love art, technology, or movies. Maybe there’s a topic that the members of your family seek help in from you for or something you can’t help talking about all the time.
A niche like this is a good basis to turn into a new career. It shows that you have a drive to explore a specific topic to the point you want to discuss it. This is healthy in a career, as a natural curiosity helps to learn and advance in the field.
You may be wondering why you shouldn’t double-down on a niche – why you shouldn’t advertise yourself as a jack-of-all-trades and cast your job net wider. The problem with that is, if you apply for jobs that you’re not a specialist in, you’ll inevitably do a poorer job than someone who is specialized in that area.
An Example of Drifting from Your Niche
For example, my niche is as a technology writer, but I’ve tried exploring different writing specialties in the past. One of them was writing for a beekeeping website, which I have zero knowledge in. However, I enjoy doing research and learning new things, so I applied and was invited to do a test run.
The articles I wrote for the website were good, and the editor liked them; however, when it came to the end of the demo, he told me he’d prefer someone with “expertise in the field” and let me go.
I also applied to write for a medical equipment website despite knowing nothing about medicine. For the first part, I managed to use my research skills to stay on top of the work, and I did enjoy it. However, when the editor said they wanted to move on to different work, my lack of specialty showed. She eventually said she’d hire someone who knew the field better than me.
As far as my technology writing goes, however, I’ve never had an editor tell me that I’m becoming redundant or that they want someone else who is more specialized. As such, for every job that was outside of my niche, I was eventually let go, but for every job that fit my niche, I stayed for years.
This is why it’s important to stick to a niche. Not only do you have a stronger case when setting out to turn it into a new career, but your job security will also be safer compared to other specialists in the field.
How to Pick a Niche
We’ve made a case for picking a niche, but what would yours be? Finding a niche is, ideally, a blend of personal passion and a provable track record. If you have both, you’ve found an excellent place to start.
To begin with, see if you have any academic or social achievements you can use to bolster your case. If you love history, did you go to a university and earn a degree in it? If you want to make art, have you ever had your pieces in a gallery before? What grades did you get at school? Have you won any awards or certificates for your work?
Once you’ve finished exploring your past for any indication of your niche, it’s time to look at what you’re doing these days. Past accolades are useful, but you also have to demonstrate how you’re using your talents today. If you’re currently not using them, try putting them to use to de-rust a little to see if you can possibly turn that niche into a new career.
Finding a Job for Your Niche
Now that you’ve identified a niche, dug up past accolades and awards related to it, and started using it again in the current day, it’s time to use all of your knowledge to land your first job.
Your job scope depends on the niche you selected. For example, if you’re into travel, you’ll find a wide range of open doors. Travel advice websites would love to have you on board. If you are a writer as well, travel agencies could use you as a copywriter. If you like assembling model trams, however, that may be to restrictive to your niche.
Once you’ve found an area you want to target specifically, be sure to go over what they ask for and what the job entails. If they seem like a good match, it’s time to apply.
Hopefully, you found the company because you were searching an online job board or for vacancies and found the advertisement there. If you did, read the application requirements and submit your resumé as asked.
If you found a company you want to work for but they don’t have an advertisement or vacancies page on their website, see if you can email someone on an “About Us” page. “Cold calls” such as these have a lower chance of success than responding to ads, as there’s no guarantee the business is looking for new workers, but it’s worth a shot.
Making a Portfolio with Zero Work Experience
If you find that people tend to ask for a portfolio before they hire you, you may find yourself in a catch-22. You need a portfolio to get work, but you need work to build a portfolio. Fortunately, there are two ways you can produce something to show to potential employers:
- Perform some work for businesses for free. Companies love free work, and you can use this work for your portfolio. However, don’t work pro-bono for too long; try to get three to five samples before applying for paid work.
- Make your own portfolio. If you want to do copywriting, make some mock advertisements or product descriptions. Should you want to do digital art, make some pieces you can show to employers. If you do decide to do mockups of your work, be sure to tell employers that it is a mock-up; otherwise, they may discover it’s not real and believe you’re trying to trick them.
Landing Your First Niche Job
Even after you manage to land the gig, you’ll still need to feel around before you get comfortable. There’s a chance that the job you land will let you do work for a few different sections or areas of the business, so you can use this time to find the “niche within the niche.”
For example, if you’re a historian who landed work on a website, take note of what jobs you enjoy and which you dislike. Do you like writing about history? Or do you prefer curating content and researching history instead?
Finding this niche-within-a-niche is important, as it defines what kind of work you enjoy doing. You can then use this knowledge to better refine your skills, delve deeper into your sub-niche, and prevent burnout.
Branching Out within the Job
Now that you’re all settled in and have turned your niche into a new career, consider trying new things as they pop up. That’s not to say that you should quit the job and work somewhere else; instead, keep an eye on developments within the job and apply for those that catch your eye.
By spreading your net across the company, you do two things. First, you add a little variety to your work life. It’s always nice to spice things up by trying something new and learning skills as you go.
Second, you branch out within your niche and develop experience in new fields. That way, you fortify your portfolio and demonstrate you can do more than just your original job. This is handy if your current job goes bust, as you can take that experience and use it to apply to a similar company.
Making the Most of a Niche
Finding a topic that really resonates with you is a great foundation to turn your niche into a new career. Not only can you show your passion for the topic in your job interview, but it also helps solidify your position and prevents employers from turning to someone more specialized than you.