Updated: May 20, 2022
Coaching Niches: It’s Time to Hang Your Sign
A shopkeeper emerges from a storefront. She watches, smiling, as the workers hang her sign. She points at it proudly and directs them to hang it straight.
The sign reads, “THE STUFF STORE: We Sell Some Kinds of Stuff.”
Not exactly helpful info. Well if you’re a coach without a niche, you’re basically hanging up a blank sign.
There are tons of services vying for your client’s attention. The importance of stating plainly - not just who you are - but who you’re for is a crucial first step in becoming indispensable.
“[I]f your focus is too broad, you’re putting your business in danger of closing before you give yourself a chance to really get off the ground.”CEO Roger David told Forbes Magazine, “Having a niche isn’t a ‘niche concept’ anymore; it’s an essential part of your business model — no matter the industry.”
Your proverbial passerby is brooding over a problem.
It’s specific. It’s compelling. To them, it’s worth time and money to solve.
Saying “Life Coach” to them is like saying you’re a STUFF Coach.
It’s time to pick a niche.
But before you start sifting through lists of “profitable coaching niches,” I want to address something that gets massively overlooked in our hustle culture.
Picking a niche is the first step in designing your professional ecosystem.
If you’re simply scrolling through a list of coaching niches trying to find the highest price tag, your new culture is already on life support. You’re playing lotto with your quality of life.
Before you go any further, think about these 3 questions:
What do you want to talk about all day?
Who do you want to talk to all day?
Who do you want to be all day?
I want you to think about these questions with any of the coaching niches you’re considering. Answer them honestly.
Then prepare for the answer.
You might not end up where you thought. Picking a service niche isn’t necessarily a straight line. But if you take a good look now, you’ll likely end up in the right, if unexpected, place later.
Coaching Niches and Deep Dives: Let’s Get Wonky!
What could you talk about all day?
When you start a business, you just see stars. The money you’ll make. The freedom you’ll have. The good you’ll do. Awesome. Great.
But, you’re also going to do the work. You’ll make the calls, generate the leads, and talk and talk and talk. It can be thrilling. It can, also, be like carrying dead weight on your back if you just randomly latch onto a coaching niche for the price tag.
Instead ask yourself, “Which of these coaching niches could I talk about all day?”
Is it Branding? Wellness at Work? Relationships? Leadership?
Consider the deep dives you’ll do in every plausible coaching niche.
Which rabbit holes do you like? Where can you offer a valuable point of view? What are you eager to learn more about? Where does your competency pop?
In short - which niche makes you want to wave your Wonk Flag?
After all, “wonk” is just another word for “enthusiastic expert.”
Whittling down your list of coaching niches in the direction of your own interests - rather than someone’s opinion of what pays - will end up showing in your work and reputation.
True interest creates deeper work, greater authority, and razor-sharp expertise.
That’s what clients are looking for. That’s a message to put on a sign.
Pick a Niche, Make a Culture
Who do you want to spend your day with?
All coaching niches are needed by all sorts of clients.
There are high-maintenance clients and passive clients. Hopeful clients and pessimistic clients. Funny, brusque, happy, and confused clients. No one stereotype applies to any one niche.
But. There are some things you can reasonably predict for this or that niche.
If you specialize in a coaching niche like...say...stress management, you’re likely to be dealing with some tightly wound clients. If you’re an intimacy coach, TMI is going to be your daily diet.
And that might be great. In fact, those could be the clients you want.
But be honest with yourself.
When you’re weighing the different coaching niches, think about spending your whole week with these people. Make the decision based on your desired ecosystem, not on what’s considered a “profitable niche.”
In the world of coaching - or any consulting business - your clients are your cohort. Choose a coaching niche that brings you people you want to share your work life with.
The Right Version of You
Who do you want to be?
As a consultant, you ARE your brand. When you walk into the marketplace - that product you’re offering is you.
It’s like you’re a superhero - with your own identity, style, and superpowers.
It’s implied in your marketing, your discovery calls, your ads, your emails.
When choosing a coaching niche, think of creating your “YOU” brand inside of it.
And be sure this “YOU” brand is someone the regular you can stand to live with - happily and authentically.
Because presenting yourself as something you’re not - just to squeeze into a “profitable” coaching niche - is like sucking in your gut. It’s super uncomfortable and, eventually, people sense you’re hiding something.
I’m not saying you have to box yourself out of anything based on stereotypes.
If you’re a Mary Poppins type but you want to do anger management coaching - GO FOR IT.
There’s probably someone starving for that unexpected vibe in the space. You could create your own singular niche and dominate.
All I’m saying is, when picking a niche, don’t try to be Tony Robbins when you’re actually Mister Rogers.
Instead, pick a coaching niche where you feel like you can bring your whole self to work.
Any coaching niche where you bring your whole self is likely to be the profitable niche you’re looking for. I promise.
Changing Your Niche: Don’t Fight the Unexpected
And after all my advice, I’m now going to say the complete opposite and annoy you.
Don’t overthink this.
Because where you start is, probably, not where you’ll end up.
See, the reason you sort through coaching niches now is not for the ultimate answer. It simply narrows your focus so you can truly start.
It’s how you get on the board - onto square one. Without that, you’ll never get to the finish. Picking your coaching niche is just about optimizing your first moves.
You’ll gain a lot as you go, stuff you can’t know from here.
You’ll have a sense of what’s expendable, what’s not. Some coaching niches might change subtly. Some niches will mean a whole new website. Whatever.
I’m telling you this now so you’ll recognize it later.
And if you do feel a niche evolution happening - don’t fight it.
Humans tend to cling to ideas just because they’re already in play. We’re so slow to consider new ideas. But once we do, we’re super weird about putting them down.
So when you feel some other coaching niches pulling you organically toward them, you might be tempted to grip harder to your first coaching niche.
You might think, “I don’t want to change my LinkedIn page.”
You’ll replay the sunk time, effort, and cost. “If I change my niche, it’ll all be wasted.”
Except you didn’t waste anything.
You have experience, authority, and a vision of your unique offer. That’s a terrific ROI.
The only way to waste time is by holding onto the first niche...after you learned your lesson.
So when it comes to coaching niches, you should - both - use them and lose them.
Grow in your niche or eject it. And then do a happy dance because you now have that kind of freedom in your work.
And, hopefully, knowing you have it will make your first choice less stressful.
Because as long as you’re being honest and clear - you’ll always end up in the right place.
Just remember, when it comes to coaching niches, you’re not picking a life partner. You’re picking a dance partner.
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