We’ve all heard the career advice: follow your passion. But what if you’re not sure what your passion is?
Or what if the idea of following your passion seems incredibly overwhelming?
Instead of following your passions, try finding your niche instead.
Like a lot of people out there, maybe you’re still trying to figure out what you’re passionate about. Or maybe you’re not exactly interested in turning a lifelong passion into a full-time job. For example, I’m a big tennis fan, but that doesn’t necessarily mean I want to become a professional tennis player or write about tennis for a living.
Following a passion sounds like the be-all and end-all for your career. It’s high stakes. A niche, on the other hand, is the friendlier, lower stakes version of a passion. It’s a special skill or interest that you hone and pursue. A niche can boost your career. But it doesn’t have to define your identity as a person.
The same way that journalists follow a specific beat in their field, you too can carve out a niche for yourself and use it as an advantage in your professional life.
Why it helps to find your niche:
- You get to carve out a path for yourself
- You can lean on your strengths and follow your curiosities
- You can grow and improve your niche
- You can distinguish yourself from others in your field and develop a specialized skill
- You can gain a good reputation for your niche.
Whether you’re looking for a new job or interested in taking your career to the next level, you’ll find that having a niche is beneficial. Don’t worry if you’re not sure what your niche is. We’ve got exercises below to help you find your niche along with career strategies to help you shine.
Exercises to find your niche
Grab your favorite notebook and pen and find a quiet spot. If you’re a visual learner and love mind maps and doodles, feel free to grab some colorful markers, too. Give yourself 30 minutes to an hour to do this exercise.
What do people go to you for?
Many career questionnaires ask you to identify your strengths. If you’re not really sure what your strengths are–that’s okay! Instead, try to think about all the things that people go to you for.
- Maybe everyone at work is always asking you to double check their reports because you have a great eye for detail.
- Maybe you’re the go–to person in your friend group to organize birthdays and events because you’re super organized and great with logistics.
- Maybe your boss is always asking you to lead meetings or give presentations because you’re great at public speaking.
Figure out what people go to you for. And then, you’ll start to get a clear idea of what your strengths and special skills are.
What is something you can do on autopilot?
Another way to find your niche is to identify the things that other people find challenging, but that you find super easy to do.
- Your neighbor can never find anyone to walk their dogs. You have a flexible schedule and you love animals.
- Your writer friend hates copy editing their work. You’re a grammar nerd.
- Your marketing friends are overwhelmed by social media. You know what the latest TikTok trend is.
- Your boss hates dealing with Photoshop. You can create social media assets with no problem.
Now you might be thinking: Why would anyone hire me to do Photoshop? I’m not an expert.
But to paraphrase personal finance writer Ramit Sethi, you don’t have to be an expert. You just have to be better than the person who finds it challenging.
So go ahead: make a list of things that you can do with ease.
What are you reading and researching?
You can also define your niche by following your curiosity.
What are the things you are curious about? What books do you love to read? What’s your go-to section in the newspaper? What type of podcasts are you listening to?
Maybe you’re always reading books about entrepreneurs or listening to the latest episode of How I Built This. This could be a sign that you have an entrepreneurial spirit that’s just waiting to be unleashed.
Maybe you love reading historical fiction and visiting old homes. Maybe you could explore this curiosity even further by starting a podcast or a newsletter.
By following your curiosity and your interests, you will be guaranteed to find a niche that is always interesting and exciting to you.
What to do with your niche
Now that you have a better idea of what your niche is it’s time to start developing it.
Look at your current job. Is there a way to flex your special skills at your current job? In the past, an employee’s role was pretty much tied to their job title. But today, there are more varied ways to tap into your strengths at the office and demonstrate informal leadership.
So if you’re currently an admin assistant but your niche is graphic design, then volunteer to design the slides for a presentation or your team’s newsletter or even an invitation to a coworker’s going away party. It’s okay to start small and then progressively work your way onto bigger projects. Word of mouth will spread and you’ll get tapped to do more substantive work.
- Meet people in your niche. If your niche is “fashion copywriting” then meet as many people in that field as you can. Go on social and Linkedin, talk to your friends and loved ones, ask coworkers if they know anyone in this field. By expanding the people in your network, you will discover more opportunities in your niche.
- Create a side business. Once you start getting more experience and exposure, you might want to start thinking about launching a small side business. Make sure to do your homework first and learn as much as you can before diving in.
- Refine your job search. A niche can help you be more strategic with your job search. A job search that is specific and targeted will actually be more fruitful than trying to apply to every job under the sun.