How do you niche?
To niche or not to niche; that is indeed the question!
Fair warning – this blog post doesn’t come to a solid conclusion…
It’s something that comes up over and over again for all creatives – ‘find your niche’: find your corner of the world and be the best at it. This is all very well if you’re absolutely THE BEST at the one niche thing you want to do, but what if, like me, you’re more of a Jack of all trades?
In my experience, I’ve found that on Social Media (particularly Instagram) those makers who make one thing and do it extremely well, are often the ones who have the highest number of followers, or the highest engagement. Now, numbers aren’t everything, but they sure do help when it comes to getting your work out there. The same goes for people who have one style of photography and their feed looks tailored and consistent (but that’s a blog post for another day..!).
Personally, I adore making dolls, but I also adore making animals, and of course my little bees. I’ve also dabbled in homewares, accessories, garments (I currently have two jumpers on the go, another planned, and a shawl that I may or may not have been making on and off for a couple of years) and tried pretty much every other craft you can imagine over the years. Of course you have the super makers who can create anything; but still give it that signature style that you *instantly* recognise (that’s the dream, right?), but first you have to find that style – which comes back around to the niche question.
A certain amount of finding your ‘niche’ is improvement based – as with any craft, the more you do it, the more you’ll improve; you’ll learn new techniques or find things that you didn’t know you could do. You’ll also learn what you DON’T enjoy, and what you’re not as good at.
For me personally, that journey has involved gradually working down to a smaller and smaller hook size – I started making my dolls with a 4mm hook and dk yarn, and now I’m working regularly with a 1mm hook and fine cotton thread – the entire process changes and grows (or in my case, shrinks!) with you.
When creating work for sale, or running a business, it’s important to factor in your target market – this is something that can’t be avoided. I’ve found that it’s challenging to attract and keep your audience when marketing items for several different audiences. If I target doll collectors, I’m not necessarily targeting people who will buy my patterns; if I market my keyring accessories, I’m not necessarily marketing to people who will buy a collectors item, if I’m targeting other crocheters, then they may not be interested in purchasing finished items, etc…
This is where developing your niche can be highly beneficial – you have a select audience and you know exactly who and where to target (or at the least, you know where to start your research)!
Of course, one obvious solution for a Jack of all trades is to run separate stores / social media accounts for each target audience, e.g. one for patterns, one for finished items, one for collectors pieces and one for smaller items…but having enough time in your schedule to run several social media accounts and stores as separate businesses is a luxury that not many can afford.
Another concern I personally have about settling on a single niche is the fear of burnout – unless you’re a marathon maker who can churn out hundreds of the same thing over and over again and never get tired, repeating makes over and over can wear you down, no matter how much you love your craft.
Upon reflection, I feel ‘niche-ing down’ is much more related to marketing a business and selling and less connected to making and creating. We’re all creative, crafty people and I would bet that a majority of us have tried, or are still practicing several different crafts. I struggle with the question ‘what’s the one specific thing you want to make’, because I love making so many different things in different styles.
Perhaps the real question is more ‘which items do you want to sell more than anything else’ rather than ‘what do you want to make the most’. It certainly helps me to think of it in that way…
It’s a process, and figuring out where you want to be in a few years time and what you want to be ‘known for’ is a huge challenge. Huge kudos to those who already have it figured out!
What do you think? Do you think it’s important to ‘niche down’, or can you find success by being a Jack of all trades?