If you’re a company like Coca-Cola, with a massive ad spend, you don’t need to niche. Coca-Cola appeals to (almost) everyone, everywhere. However, if you’re running a small, probably one person ELT/ESL freelance business, the only real way to stand out is to get known for something very specific.
People often assume a freelance niche means picking a specific client group, such as HR managers. This can work well, but it’s absolutely not the only way to niche.
Here are some examples of clients I have worked with, what their niches are, and why they work so well for them.
Clare Hayward- Queen of Canva
Clare’s semi-tongue in cheek ‘title’ came about when she attended her first IATEFL after setting up her new small group programme helping teachers to make the most of the graphic design tool, Canva. Everywhere she went people came up to her, saying, ‘Oh, you’re that girl who runs the course about Canva.’
In a nutshell, this is exactly what you want from a freelance niche. Something that it’s easy for people to understand and which is ‘sticky’ and memorable. Clare doesn’t only teach people about Canva. She continues to be a busy teacher trainer in all kinds of areas, but her ‘Canva’ niche has both made her group programme a success, and made her much more widely known within the ELT world.
Saskia Disant- English for students with Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, Dysphasia, ASS (Autism), ADHD and general language learning problems.
Saskia’s previous experience and training within state school education meant that she was already very well positioned to help students with specific learning needs, and was in fact often doing this through word of mouth recommendations.
After doing my group programme, Saskia decided to focus on this area of expertise. She still teaches general English, but is getting more and more well-known as an expert in her field. She recently took part in a series of LinkedIn lives , entitled, ‘We need to talk about ADHD’, has given an online webinar on teaching English to students with Special Educational Needs, and has previously been asked to deliver training for local teachers.
As well as finding it personally satisfying, this freelance niche enables Saskia to differentiate herself and her offer, and stand out from the crowd. What could you make part of your offer that could do this for you?
Lucy Tilney- Learning English through full immersion at Lucy’s comfortable home in Bristol.
When Lucy decided to do my group programme she already had her niche, teaching English to professional adults at her home in Bristol. What she didn’t have was a reliable flow of clients that she had been able to find herself, rather than through an agency.
It was very clear to me that she wasn’t managing to get across in her messaging just how special her offer really was. As well as being a very experienced teacher, with a particular specialism in pronunciation, she is also an amazing cook and conversationalist, and a great guide to her city of Bristol. Her clients are fully immersed in the language and culture, and have a totally one-off experience, and the opportunity to super-charge their progress in English, with as many hours of English lessons and practice over two weeks as they might typically have over a year at home.
Since Lucy started talking more about these things, the number of clients coming to her through her marketing is steadily growing. So sometimes it isn’t about finding a niche so much as getting the message across more clearly to the right people.
Michelle Worgan – Inspiring Inquiries
Michelle was already a successful ELT materials writer for Young Learners, but wanted to develop sher own business where she could have more control herself, and focus on developing more inclusive and innovative approaches to primary education.
As Inspiring Inquiries she has developed both teacher training courses, and packs of resources for teachers to use if they too feel that their classrooms could be more inspiring, and more inclusive. The rave reviews on her website are testament to the impact she’s having.
Creating these offers and running her new YouTube channel has raised her profile, and put her in a stronger position overall, as well as providing a lot of personal satisfaction as the ripples of what she’s doing move out into primary education.
Camilla Walton – Cultivate English
As a qualified Garden Designer herself, it made a lot of sense for Camilla to niche into teaching English communication skills to landscape architects and garden designers. However, she was worried, like many people, that going too narrow on her freelance niche might reduce the number of people willing to work with her.
In fact, since Camilla doubled down on her niche and messaging, she has been finding it easier and easier to attract clients, as it’s immediately obvious to any of her ideal clients who come across her, that she’s the perfect person to help them. She often receives messages from prospective clients, excited to have found her, and amazed that her service exists.
Having experience in common with your clients isn’t essential, but it can definitely make for a very successful niche, and do a lot of the heavy lifting for you in terms of marketing.
I hope you’ve found these examples of different ways that having a clear niche can help you business useful, even inspiring?
If you’d like my help in developing or creating your niche, devising a business model and an offer or set of offers that will perfectly meet the needs and desires of your ideal clients, and learning how to market those offers, check out my programme, Designed to Flourish.