*This post was originally my first guest post on The Work at Home Woman. I am sharing it here due to popular demand through a recent twitter chat.
When I came home and told my husband that I wanted to quit my teaching job and become the editor of a local magazine, he didn’t blink an eye. When I added, “And I want to start my own stationery business,” you could see the look of panic begin to cross his face.
For my entire working life, I’ve struggled to find a job that allowed creativity but that also paid well. My husband would say that there aren’t many out there, that a job is just a job, and that I shouldn’t worry about being happy, just about bringing home some money (the male point of view I guess). I don’t know about you, but for me, I have to love what I’m doing. It took awhile for him to get on board with my decisions, but when he did, he was very supportive.
But then the business started doing well, and I wanted to expand. I brainstormed things I could do: scrapbooking, handmade note cards… Then, I came across custom decorated clipboards – a perfect use for my extra scrapbook paper. It was a big hit! After that, I expanded to making decoupage domino necklaces using scraps of paper I already had. At this point, my husband warned me: “Don’t start doing too much, what you do won’t be special anymore.” I promised him I’d stick to things that used my scrapbook paper and not venture too far out of my current zone. We shook on it.
He was right. Expanding too much meant I wouldn’t be special anymore. I had to decide what made me special and create a niche out of it. But how? I had so many ideas filling my head and so many things I enjoyed creating. How did I know what to focus on?
Here’s what I learned:
Hobby vs. Business. There’s a difference between a hobby and a business. Just because I like doing something doesn’t mean I can make money at it. For the purpose of finding my niche, I’d have to determine which was which.
Group like Items. I like to bake, write, edit, read, sleep, scrapbook, design, and take photos. But, it doesn’t make sense to have a bake shop where I also sell invitations I designed. It doesn’t really fit well together. But, I can create a store where I sell birthday invitations and also items that make the perfect gift – it’s a one stop shop, and it covers many of my passions.
Realize the Need for Change. Yes, change. I started with just stationery. Then added some items; then cut back. It takes awhile to find your niche and what will work for you. Change is good and helps you get closer to finding what works for you.
Take Risks. This is kind of like changing. You won’t know what you’re really good at until you try it. You won’t know what sells until you put it out there for sale. This may mean taking risks, but ultimately, it will get you closer to finding your niche, and it will pay off.
On a final note, I didn’t find my niche by doing something I knew would make money. I found something that made me happy. Then, I found a way to make money at it. Have you found your niche?