Time for a Secondary Niche?

Editors with some experience often come to me with concerns about sustaining their business. They’re usually in a particular niche, such as copyediting mystery fiction, and they’ve stalled in some way – they don’t have quite enough clients and they’re not making quite enough money.

But we know that niches are a great way to find clients. After all, we can figure out where people who write mysteries are likely to hang out: mystery writer organizations, Facebook groups for mystery writers, conferences for mystery writers. We can meet them there and let them know we exist.

So, when editors get stalled, they start doing more marketing in that niche: more Facebook ads for mystery writers or more interaction with writers in the organization or more blog posts about writing mysteries. And that’s fine—it’s a good idea!

But what happens when this doesn’t produce the desired results? Editors may increase their marketing and still nothing much happens. They can’t seem to get out of the slump.

The first question they ask is, why isn’t this niche working? They want to know what more marketing they could do.

Sometimes I look at their marketing efforts and see that they have counted visiting a Facebook group twice this month as intensive marketing efforts and then we have a conversation about that. But most of the time they are doing steady, consistent marketing, it’s just not bringing them to the level they’d like to be.

This is often when I propose that they consider adding a secondary niche to their services. It’s not that I think they have exhausted all possible marketing efforts and that every mystery writer around the globe has heard of them and is just choosing not to use their services, it’s that I think changing things up can re-energize their marketing, connect them with new people who can connect them with new opportunities, and otherwise spark some kind of movement in their business.

If you’d like that to be you, then I recommend you find a new niche that is related in some way to your primary niche, as that’s the easiest way for your experience to translate to other clients. So, a mystery copy editor might extend more specifically into thriller, suspense, and even horror genres.

But a secondary niche can also be a secondary service: for a copy editor, this might be line editing or proofreading or developmental editing. You’re still marketing to mystery writers but you’re offering them more services. Maybe some potential clients aren’t looking for CE so much as they want to explore LE.

For developmental editors, one niche I typically recommend moving into is book doctoring and ghostwriting, as these can be very lucrative secondary niches and your work as a DE will already bring you in contact with people who could use these other services.

If you do decide to invest in pursuing a secondary niche, don’t be surprised to see an uptick in your primary niche, too! Often, focusing on a secondary niche can help you see ways to market to your primary niche that you hadn’t thought of before. And it can help you connect with more people (the bigger your network, the more likely you’ll get helpful referrals).

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