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Finding Your Niche


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47 replies to this topic

#1 Jill

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Posted 24 July 2003 - 01:31 PM

I've always felt that the key to becoming an expert online (or at least branding yourself that way) is to find a niche. The smaller the niche the better.

If you try to concentrate on a broad topic, say Web design, you'll get lost in the sea of other Web designers who are just as good -- if not better -- than you are.

The secret is to drill down deeply in whatever topic you're interested in. If it's Web design, think about all the different aspects that go into it. You have graphics, you have site architecture, you have css, html coding, etc. There maybe something like CSS that you could become an expert in. How many CSS experts are there out there? Certainly not as many as their are Web designers.

You get the picture.

What are some other things one can do to position themselves as an expert?

Jill

#2 Bernard

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Posted 24 July 2003 - 03:37 PM

Jill, this may be just an issue of semantics, but I think an expert is someone who has mastered the subject matter of their field. I think there can be many experts that no one has ever heard of. I think the idea of "positioning" to be an expert is misleading.

An "industry leader", IMHO, is one who is highly visible within their niche (and may or may not necessarily be an expert). To me, "Positioning" = marketing.

That being said, speaking at conferences, authoring trade magazine articles, participating (moderating or administrating) in forums, etc. are all good vehicles for marketing oneself.

And yes, I agree with you, it's easier to master a field if you narrow it down (and find your niche).

#3 Jill

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Posted 24 July 2003 - 03:56 PM

Actually, Bernard, I think both those aspects are important.

You definitely have to actually become an expert by mastering your topic. No doubt about that. And you're right, there are many experts out there who are quietly doing their thing without lots of fanfare.

But for those who wish to position themselves, and market themselves as "the" expert, they then have to use branding.

Thus, the reason why I named this particular category of the forum as I did! :)

#4 Bernard

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Posted 24 July 2003 - 04:23 PM

Jill, I only made the distinction because there are fields where people are NOT experts, but position (or market) themselves as such. Take real estate investing for example. There are plenty of get rich quick schemes available in a variety of media (including TV infomercials :) ) touting "courses" from "experts".

But I digress from the original topic.... Find your niche and make your mark. Definitely. :learn:

#5 Jill

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Posted 24 July 2003 - 04:27 PM

That's also a very good point, Bernard.

And in fact, I believe it's very easy on the Internet to position yourself as an expert, when you really aren't one. I've seen it happen a lot, and it bugs the crap out of me!

Usually I figure that eventually people will realize that the emperor has no clothes, but sometimes it can take quite awhile!

Jill

#6 qwerty

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Posted 24 July 2003 - 04:37 PM

Usually I figure that eventually people will realize that the emperor has no clothes, but sometimes it can take quite awhile!

But in many cases, by the time people have figured it out, the emperor has run off with a lot of people's wardrobes. That's why it's so important for people marketing themselves to demonstrate clearly why they should be viewed as an expert, and for users to be extra careful about who they're going to trust.

#7 robwatts

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Posted 24 July 2003 - 04:38 PM

Jill, I only made the distinction because there are fields where people are NOT experts, but position (or market) themselves as such.

Hi Bernard, yes indeed. Some people do this very well. The internet has more than its fair share of people who set themselves up as gurus, in many cases the reality is that they know very little at all.

I dont knock them for doing so, in fact I apportion a degree of blame with those who are suckered into believing their hype in the first place.

The term 'Buyer Beware' springs to mind!

#8 Haystack

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Posted 24 July 2003 - 04:47 PM

One common metric for considering someone an expert is whether they're published. Of course, that can mean a lot of different things. Being published in a peer reviewed and respected science journal has more credibility than publishing your own web site.

For web related marketing being mentioned on 3rd party web sites certainly helps.

High search engine rankings for relevant search terms delivers both traffic and a sense of credibility with web users.

A narrow niche can help as long as it's not so narrow that it has no demand.

#9 Jill

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Posted 24 July 2003 - 05:28 PM

That's exactly part of the problem, Ed, anyone can "publish" these days.

People do have to be careful.

Jill

#10 Haystack

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Posted 24 July 2003 - 06:07 PM

People do have to be careful.

True. Unfortunately, people seem to have a hard time determining the (well, basically don't give much thought to) credibility of web sites they visit.

Hopefully, we'll be the beneficiaries of a better educated audience over time.

For more info on website credibility, check out the Stanford Guidelines for Web Credibility.

#11 Bsand

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Posted 24 July 2003 - 06:16 PM

Hi Jill
Good to see you have your own forum.

I started in Nov 2001 with internet marketing.

I was lucky enough to run across rankright (i believe that was the name) only a few months into the countless hours of searching on how to correctly build a web site for Dir. & SE

Even though I strayed from some of your advise :) (Hanging head ) I have always found your advise solid.

I have tried to find the right people to learn from , and its plain hard with all the so called experts.

You have earned my vote as an expert - following advise from your writings My Original site (on air Feb 02) and was plain bad, still aint to stikin good, now has many #1 and many more 2-5 rankings on different seach words and pharses in Google ( the most) yahoo, MSN and others.Finding new ones every day now.

Hey and it makes a little money too.

Thanks Jill

Look forward to following your forum and hope youall dont mind some of my dumb questions I'll have.

Looking forward to being Free in "03"

Ben

#12 dragonlady7

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Posted 24 July 2003 - 06:17 PM

I'm just started working on that, myself... I've decided I want to strike out into the world of... something. I already figured that just putting out my shingle as a web designer wouldn't work. I was thinking I'd focus on copy writing, since I'm a pretty good writer and all... but there seem to be a lot of those out there too! I have a lot of work to do just to figure out where to start!
There's an art to finding your niche. Not just professionally, but in general living. It's not easy. I'm interested in so many things and have dribs and drabs of talent at each of them... A friend of mine in her last year of university is struggling with what to specialize in. All of her friends had a "thing" they were really good at, and she chose one to study, but is feeling like it's not really her thing after all. I felt the same way at that stage but you never figure it out until it's too late.
So I envy those with clearly-defined, straightforward talents!
I have a lot of trouble in focusing. I guess I'd better figure it out now!

So, what kind of copy writer should I be? :spam:

(these smilies are really cute, btw. i really want to use this one: :) but I don't know what kind of a conversation that will come up in!!)

#13 Jill

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Posted 24 July 2003 - 06:30 PM

Dragonlady...why not SEO copywriting? There are only a few who specialize in that. The field is wiiiiiiiidddde open!

And Ben, glad you could join us! Thanks for sharing your story! :bye:

Jill

#14 dragonlady7

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Posted 24 July 2003 - 06:57 PM

>why not SEO copywriting?

Is it really? I shall have to keep that in mind. I figured you had that market pretty locked up. ;)
I'm just about to finish my first SEO project and full website design. I have had to fight tooth and claw to get them to use keywords instead of meaningless buzzwords, and lately as the project has dragged on I've just given up. It'll be lauched, it'll probably be ok, I don't care anymore. I had kind of hoped it would take me a little longer to learn apathy at my first job, but no... I only just realized that Dilbert was nonfiction this year.
But now I'm going to start work on MY personal site, and it's going to be fabulous and perfect and my boss is going to have no say in it at all. :ph34r: I will be unstoppable! :robot:
(I promise, I'll get over the smilies soon. But not just yet: :nerd: )

#15 Scottie

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Posted 24 July 2003 - 07:01 PM

Networking. Co-opetition. Do the right thing for the right reasons.

Network
Get to know others in the industry via the web (forums) or trade shows. By working together with others in the industry, you can help to influence the direction and standards of the industry.

The more people you know and work well with, the more potential you have to be recommended for conference speaking, articles, and quotes in industry publications.

Co-opetition
What do your competitors do better? What do you do better? How can you complement each other instead of stealing from each other? What complementary industries/services can you coordinate with to offer more value?

The right thing
Sleep well at night and gain respect by doing the right thing. You'll never have to worry about "spin" or damage control if something gets "found out". And if you did wrong, admit it and move on. Don't lose credibility by defending something you don't believe in because you are afraid to say you were wrong.

Interesting, I didn't write this from an internet marketing perspective either. Several moonwalk rental industry directories have sprung up since I started mine... I've contacted each owner and made friends with them. Locally, we sublease equipment to other rental companies in town and trade referrals, even though we are direct competitors. Instead of slashing prices, we have worked together to fill different niches. And everyone benefits!

I've started a forum for the industry (that is growing in leaps and bounds, funded by Google Adsense!) that is really making a difference. (My husband is more the "expert" there but I drop in regularly. ) I offered to write for the industry trade publication and was gladly accepted and allowed to write about anything I want. Pretty cool!

The neatest thing is when I'm talking to a customer on the phone and they quote my own advice back to me as ,"I heard the best way to do it was..."
:nerd:




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