Choosing a niche is a big topic for coaches, and it tends to generate all kinds of thought drama.
It’s understandable why: it feels like a pretty big deal. And in many ways, it is, but maybe not like you’re thinking. It also comes with some initial perceptions that aren’t true, which is what scares many coaches away from the idea of niching down.
In this article, we’ll explore the 5 most common niche myths so you can make your own choice from a grounded, informed space.
Before we begin, I’d like to clarify what a niche actually is.
A niche is a specific group of people open to a particular kind of product or service. It’s the market space where you potentially have something to offer by way of your coaching services.
That said, let’s jump into it:
“Don’t pick a niche, just coach as many people as you can and eventually you’ll discover what you love.”
This is less a myth and more what I’d consider questionable advice, and it’s something I’ve heard a number of successful coaches say.
It’s not wrong, per se, but it’s not necessarily the best way to approach your decision to niche or not.
The big question I ask in response to this idea is:
How slowly do you want to build your business?
What successful coaches who started this way will tell you is, “it took me years of coaching all types of people to discover what I really love coaching on, and finally grow a successful business around that.”
Well, OK, but… why not just start with coaching around what you’re already knowledgeable and passionate about, and refine from there?
Going the long “coach anyone” route is probably only a good idea if:
- You have no idea of what kind of people you synergize with
- You’ve achieved no remarkable victories in life that others struggle to achieve
- You have nothing monetizable to offer except asking coaching questions
- You’re willing to spend a LOT of your time marketing yourself with slow results
- You’re fine with your business potentially never becoming more than a side gig or a hobby, at best taking years to develop into a living.
By the way, I’ve worked with lots of coaches who couldn’t think of a niche at first, but soon realized there was indeed a group of people they were marvelously qualified to serve—they’d just overlooked it until we took full stock of their superpowers. So, just because it’s not obvious to you now doesn’t mean it’s not there, like a diamond in the rough.
The Key Insight: When you start your coaching journey within a marketable niche, you’re way more likely to find great clients consistently and build your reputation more effectively.
“Choosing a niche will narrow my potential clients and limit my coaching business.”
This is, by far, the most common response I hear from coaches.
It does seem logical that choosing a niche = fewer potential clients, and therefore less potential revenue.
It might surprise you to learn that the opposite is true—niching down will actually result in more clients, and more revenue. Let me explain.
For one, not having a niche puts you in direct competition with a million other general life coaches, who are all essentially saying the same thing: Make your dreams a reality, get unstuck, become your best self, live your best life.
But more importantly, most people just aren’t looking for life coaching. They have a specific problem they’re struggling with, and they’re looking for a specialist to help them solve it.
They’re not typing “how do I make my dreams a reality” into a Google search.
They’re actually typing things like:
- How to save my marriage
- How to become a better manager
- How to quit smoking for good
- How to make 6 figures as an entrepreneur
… And so on. They’re reading articles, buying books, even buying courses and programs, but they’re still feeling stuck—often, from a lack of one-on-one support and accountability.
These people are primed to find success with a coach, but they’re not likely to be sold on working with a general life coach. It’s also very hard to market to such a vast spectrum of people and problems.
On the other hand, when you’re marketing to a specific group of people who are struggling with a specific problem, your marketing efforts have much less heavy lifting to do. They already want what you have to offer, and they’re more likely to trust someone who understands and specializes in their situation.
The Key Insight: Choosing a niche to focus on means that you know exactly what your people struggle with, their biggest desires, what stops them from making change, how to reach them, and more. This makes you highly appealing—and more visible—to them.
“If I choose a niche now, I’ll be stuck with it.”
This is a reasonable concern, but it’s essential to realize 2 things:
- A key aspect of the entrepreneurial journey is discovery, and
- Most successful entrepreneurs don’t end up in the same place they started.
What this means for you, as a coach, is that you’re quite likely to refine your niche and possibly even change it as time goes on—but this is something that requires experience to get to. When you’re first starting out, you’ll have no way of knowing all of the intricacies of coaching within your niche. You’ll have to make room for the discovery process that allows you to hone in on what lights you up and creates success for you—financially, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
You’re allowed to switch things up. You’re allowed to change and evolve.
Of course, choosing your niche isn’t something you should do on a whim, without an ample amount of consideration and research beforehand. You want to choose a niche that you have some interest, knowledge, and experience in, that also has market potential.
And if it turns out that your chosen niche isn’t one you want to stay in for whatever reason, you can pivot. Take the insights you’ve gained and the lessons you’ve learned, and decide where you want to go next. Sure, it’ll take some creativity, research, and work. But this is all part of being a coach-entrepreneur. Even if you never change your niche, you’ll almost certainly be continually refining your ideal client and your coaching framework as you grow and evolve as a coach. So don’t sweat it.
The Key Insight: Your journey as a coach will never be static, so choose a niche that you believe you can start strongly with—knowing that you’re never locked in to anything, and that evolution is part of becoming a successful coach.
“A niche will confine who I can work with.”
Many coaches have told me that they’re worried about choosing a niche because it means they won’t be able to coach people outside of their niche, even if they really want to.
Nope, not true!
The great thing about being a coach-entrepreneur is you can coach anyone you want.
Your niche is simply who you market to.
You’ll most likely come across people who want to work with you despite not being a perfect niche fit, but you know you can help them, and they’re someone you’d love to work with. You’re allowed to say yes!
When I used to offer website design services to coaches, I had multiple people come to me who weren’t coaches, but still wanted my help: public speakers, authors, even a holistic veterinarian.
I said yes to working with these “off-brand” clients when they fit my most important criteria: they were putting some good into the world, they seemed like they’d be fun to work with, and they were willing to pay my rates.
When you get clear on what’s important to you as a coach, it becomes easy for you to accept clients outside of your niche because you know what your essential criteria are.
You might even find that you form a secondary niche through clients/referrals in your primary niche.
An example of this would be a coach who helps women nail their interviews for C-suite positions, and discovers that some of them come back later on for help navigating their newly-acquired high-level careers. If the coach is up to this, they could create an exclusive coaching offer for select clients or referrals in this secondary niche.
The Key Insight: Your niche is who you market to, but you can work anyone who feels like a good fit for you.
“My niche is already saturated.”
A saturated niche is a good sign: it means it’s a profitable one.
The key to becoming a successful coach in a saturated niche isn’t trying to compete with all the other coaches serving that niche.
It’s making your competition irrelevant.
There are lots of ways you can do this:
- Combine your skills and gifts to deliver an uncommon result
- Specialize in serving an underserved group of people within your niche
- Become a specialist—even an expert—in a very specific realm of your niche
- Create a brand that speaks exclusively to the “weirdos” you relate to
- Deliver a big result in a remarkably short amount of time
- Deliver a big result in a way that defies conventional methods
- Simplify a process that’s known to be complex or convoluted
Using myself again as an example:
When I was offering website design services to business owners in general, I was in direct competition with countless other web designers. But when I decided to work exclusively with coaches, and I developed a unique process tailor-made for the unique needs of coaches—which not only included website design, but also my skills and gifts in branding, copywriting, and helping coaches create their signature offers—I not only lessened my competition, I made it irrelevant.
And it wasn’t because I was the best web designer out there (I wasn’t), or the best anything in particular.
It was because I was offering something special for coaches that no other web designer was offering.
This was a result of me knowing myself and what I was exceptionally good at, knowing who my ideal client was, what they needed, and what they were struggling with, and creating a signature process that helped them solve their problems—including some they weren’t aware of, but I was, because I sought to become an expert in what makes coaches successful.
Today, while I don’t build websites anymore, I do help coaches get a result that only a few know how to get—and even fewer are able to help them get it. It requires skills and abilities that I’ve put a lot of time and effort into developing.
It’s not that no one else can do what I’m doing, it’s just that no one can do it the way that I do it.
This is also my message to other visionary, ambitious coaches.
It’s not about finding a “unique” niche or going to great lengths to stand out. It’s about getting clear on a niche you believe you can become a known expert in, taking inventory of what you bring to the table, and figuring out who your people are. The people who need you and your unique magic to achieve the result they’re looking for. Then creating a signature offer that brings it all together.
Your niche may have many others serving it, but it doesn’t have YOU. It doesn’t have your story, or your ability to serve your people in the way that only you can. Your personality, values, voice, life experiences, and approach to solving problems is what creates the foundation of a unique experience that makes your perceived competition irrelevant.
Which allows you to stand out naturally and effortlessly.
The Key Insight: Competition simply means demand. When you can help a specific niche solve a problem in a way that no one else can, competition doesn’t matter.
Choosing a niche isn’t always easy, but it’s worth it.
And when you start with a solid brand foundation and a signature coaching offer that specializes in helping your niche get a specific result they want, you’re well on your way to becoming a successful coach.