We’ve talked a lot about the importance of finding your niche as a wellness professional. While it’s natural to want to help everyone with your knowledge, it’s much more powerful to find your core message and communicate it clearly to potential clients.
But still, we hear that many of you are struggling to niche down.
Maybe you’re struggling because you lack the confidence to declare yourself as an expert in one specific issue. Or maybe you struggle to niche down because you already have only a few clients and the idea of turning anyone away is terrifying.
We interviewed four amazing wellness professionals who found their success when they finally settled into a niche. They shared their own stories and tips to inspire you to finally take the leap, to be a bigger fish in a smaller pond.
First, meet our pros:
Andrea Hardy, RD
Andrea is Canada’s Gut Health Expert. She’s a Registered Dietitian and nutrition blogger whose private practice, Ignite Nutrition, focuses on functional gut disorders, especially IBS. She often works in collaboration with gastroenterologists to help her patients find relief from their symptoms, while healing their relationship with food so they can get back to an enjoyable quality of life. Not to mention she has a super drool-worthy Instagram account where she shares tons of IBS-friendly recipes.
Melissa Boufounos, CHN
Melissa is an Obstacle Course Race (OCR) athlete, personal trainer, OCR blogger and holistic nutritionist. She is passionate about all things sports nutrition, and is the expert in helping OCR athletes perform better and improve their race times. She has competed in over 30 races, including the 2016 OCR World Championships. In short, she’s one of the most badass nutrition professionals on the block.
Orsha Magyar, MSc, CHN
Orsha is the brain food expert, bringing together her passion for neuroscience and nutrition in her company NeuroTrition. When it comes to nutrition for brain health, she’s the leader in the field. Orsha is a passionate fan of real, whole foods and local, seasonal flavours which she brings to her clients through menus and seriously delicious recipes.
Meghan Walker, ND
Meghan is a naturopathic doctor, podcast host, and ‘entrepologist,’ whose goal in practice is to optimize the health of high-performing entrepreneurs. As an entrepreneur herself, she knows just how big of a toll entrepreneurship can take on your health, and how closely performance and health are related. Meghan supports the health of movers, shakers, and game changers.
The first thing we wanted to know was how long it took each of these professionals to commit and settle into a niche market:
Andrea fell into her IBS niche easily and naturally, since she lives with IBS herself.
“I knew right away that I wanted to focus on IBS and gut health - as I have IBS myself. But, I was a bit chicken to only do that. I was in an ‘I’ll take what I can get’ for clients mentality at the beginning, and ended up taking on things I wasn’t as passionate about. I’m still learning to set boundaries around what I will and won’t do - however, it took me a year or so to really be confident in niching down and saying, 'this is what I am good at and this is how I work'”
Orsha also had a mission from the beginning, as she entered the nutrition field with a neuroscience background and a goal to start a brain health revolution.
“I guess you could say that I was fortunate in the niche department. I was coming into nutrition with a solid neuroscience background so I knew from day one that my business was going to be about brains. I knew from the beginning (8 years ago, wow, how time flies!) that we were going to be sparking and spreading a brain food revolution, and that we would be bringing neuroscience and nutrition to the table together. Easy, right?”
As for Melissa, she actually started off by accepting a broader range of clients, but her personal interest quickly became her sole point of focus.
“I officially launched my website March 2016 and while it was mostly geared towards OCR athletes, I didn't completely niche down until January 2017. That's when I re-branded with a new logo and new colours that would appeal more to athletes, male clients and more competitive athletes. Now all of my messaging is niched towards OCR athletes.”
Meghan, on the other hand, took eight years to settle into her niche!
“I always had entrepreneurs in my practice, and we just clicked. It wasn’t until I had sold my primary practice and ventured into the entrepreneurial realm with more enthusiasm, that I realized there was a unique psychology and particular health needs for entrepreneurs. I called out my niche and literally named it, Entrepology, after 8 years in practice. I had previously focused on women’s health, but explored many niches over my career. Now, I appear to be niching even further, with a specific interest in female entrepreneurs.”
Key Takeaway: Your mess is your message! Look at your personal story and the reason you became a wellness professional in the first place, this is probably an indicator of what your niche should be.
Committing to a single niche is scary. Is it worth it? How did niching down change your business?
The consensus was that yes, choosing a niche is scary, but it is so worth it and can result in massive business growth.
Here's what Orsha had to say about the impact choosing a niche has had on her business.
“Niching has quite possibly been the #1 best thing I have done for the business. It has, first and foremost, allowed us to really define and differentiate ourselves in a highly saturated market. Identifying and confidently owning your key differentiators are going to be so crucial for your success!"
Niching has also allowed us to become the experts in the nutrition for the brain and mental health space in Canada; it’s what we’re known for, and the reason people seek us out. I really love knowing a lot about a little, rather than trying to know a little about a lot!”
Niching down also helped Melissa do more of what she loves and get her time back.
“Niching down has allowed me to work with clients that bring me joy. I don't spend my time creating one-off protocols. Instead, I have created a signature program that is automated. This saves me so much time. I work about 20 hours per week. And the more of my ideal client I work with, the more testimonials I get from ideal clients."
For Melissa, getting clear on her niche has resulted in massive business growth and international recognition of her expertise:
"In 1 year of niching down, my e-mail list increased by 82%, my Facebook page likes increased by 35%, my website views increased by 60% and my gross income increased by 58%. These numbers have significantly improved since the start of 2018.
I have gotten the attention of athletes world-wide and was recognized by Optimyz Magazine as one of Canada's 2018 Top 100 Health Influencers. I was also just named the Official Nutritionist of OCR World Championships 2018.”
Meghan's decision to finally niche down resulted in an improvement in the quality of her referrals and the readiness of her clients to commit to change.
“It has streamlined my marketing and accelerated my growth. The entrepreneurial community is tight and unapologetic about wanting an advantage. It is a combination well poised for referrals. Niching has also enabled me to stand out in a crowded marketplace.”
As a dedicated content creator, Andrea has found more opportunity in being an expert over a Jill-of-all-trades.
“Niching down really allows me to be an expert in one particular area. I’m okay with not knowing about sports nutrition, or diabetes, etc. in-depth. I have great colleagues I can refer to for that. Niching allows you to stand out in the area you’re most passionate about and be recognized as the content expert.”
Key Takeaway: You need to think small to grow big! None of these professionals would be where they are today if they had tried to serve everyone. Let go of your scarcity mindset. Stop seeking out any opportunity and start seeking out the right opportunity.
Finally, what tips do you have for professionals who still haven't found their niche?
Decide what problem you want to solve, and solve it like it's your job (because it is).
“There are really only two ways to find a niche; delve into something that is interesting or of interest to you personally, or do a strong needs assessment of the broader landscape. Look for opportunities where you can save people time or energy. You need to identify who you can serve by providing a genuine solution to their need." - Meghan
Ask yourself: "Do I feel pushed towards this, or pulled towards this?"
“Pick something that absolutely lights you up. Something you could talk forever about. Something that excites you, that makes you NEED to consume every research article, every paper, every bit of possible information about. Don’t pick something because it’s trendy, or because you think you ‘should’.
If there’s a ‘should’ in deciding your niche you know it’s not the right one for you!
Don’t let fear or a scarcity mindset hold you back from doing exactly what you love. Be proud to say ‘this is what I do, this is what I don’t do’ - and you’ll absolutely get the best clients and partnerships out there!” - Andrea
Melissa's advice is no-nonsense, just like her:
“Just do it. Just because you have lots of information and can help a wide range of people, doesn't mean you should try to help everyone. I can guarantee there are types of people and types of problems that stress you out or drain your energy.
Figure out who you want to help and why. Ask yourself what you feel compelled to change. Figure out exactly who you want to work with. Men, women, children? Age group? What values do you want your clients to have?
You can also pick a niche based on experiences or the health journey you have gone through. What are the top questions you get asked all the time? Why do people ask you? And more importantly, do you like answering these questions?”
As a business mentor for nutrition professionals, Orsha shared the strategy she uses to help her clients position themselves in the right niche:
“I ask my mentees these questions, and we work through them together to come up with their niche:
- What would I be doing if I didn’t have to think about money?
- What do I spend the majority of my free time doing?
- What areas do my friends most often ask my help and advice on?
- What have I always dreamed of accomplishing?
- What areas of health and wellness wake me up early and get me to bounce out of bed with excitement?”
- To find your niche, look at your personal health story, the struggles you have overcome, and your interests.
- Choose one specific problem to solve, and focus on solving only that problem.
- The more time you spend deciding on a niche, the less time you have to become the expert in that area.
- Without a niche, you are a tiny fish in a huge pond. Some people can make it with a general practice, but the chances are lower and it will take a longer time.
- Declare your niche. Just do it. It will change everything for you.
If you're serious about growing your practice and becoming a known expert, it's time to specialize. If you need more help choosing your niche, try answering these questions.