A great man once said, "You've gotta serve, somebody." That great man was recently seen doing car commercials, so I guess he proved his point. Here's the translation into business advice: Without a solid understanding of who you serve, you are in danger of being forgettable. You can do a lot of things wrong and stay in business, as companies like Apple and Netflix have demonstrated repeatedly, but being forgettable is unforgivable. The marketplace is full of WordPress consultants who are indistinguishable and mediocre. There is no room for another one.
On the other hand, there is plenty of room for talented specialists. You will always accomplish more as a meaningful specific than wandering generality.known as the "go-to" specialist for a particular industry or niche is the goal, but many fear of missing out on other business by narrowing their focus too much.
Get ready for the secret: Just because you narrow your focus does not mean you have to turn away other work immediately. Here are three practical steps to becoming a guru while you continue to put food on the table:
- Define your ideal client. Marketing only works if you are passionate. Save everyone a lot of time by working out who you are passionate about helping the most. Is it Chihuahua owners who drive backhoes? Be the go-to WordPress specialist for them. I'm pretty certain that position is open right now. Only you know where your passion lies. In the meantime, take more jobs that get you closer to that demographic and reduce jobs that move you away. You determine the schedule but remember that you are only delaying your own success.
- Assess your market. This involves finding out whether there are enough of these clients to build a business around. A search for niche-related newsletters or online groups will give you an idea of the market size and value. In the example above, you would be searching for construction starts and pet ownership projections, then looking for intersections in the profiles. The databases at the Bureau of Labor Statistics can help. This site also hosts the Occupational Outlook Handbook that helps you plan for the future with a forecast for industry growth. If you can only find a handful of dog-loving construction workers, go back to Step 1 and dream bigger.
- Frame their problems. After you locate your ideal clients on forums and social media, listen. They will identify their biggest problems for you. Ask questions and understand why no one has solved it yet. Then you can get to work figuring out how you can help them. Remember that marketing is not talking about what you can do, but how to help your clients achieve what they want. Solve little problems for them and they will learn to trust you to solve the big ones.
This 3-step framework sounds simple but many newcomers go about the process of finding an audience backwards. Instead of identifying which audience they are passionate about serving, they start out by determining which audience should be the most lucrative. That's why there are so many people fighting for the big fish while underserved markets have money to solve problems but no one to solve them.
Try it out and tell me in the comments how it worked out for you. I dare you, if that's what it takes. What's the single biggest challenge you faced in following those three steps? Tell me what your problems are and I can help you solve them.
Now, here's the TL;DR for those of you who skipped the first 8 paragraphs: Read the 3-step framework and try it. Your ideal clients need WordPress doctors, but none of them are going to call a general practitioner when they need a brain, surgeon. Trust me, there are plenty of WordPress brains that need surgery out there.
Also see 5 ways to find new clients.