Discovery Phase - what is your niche

Of Note:

The 10 Step Discovery Phase obviously has 10 sequentially numbered steps.  Each of these 10 steps will individually have an effect on other steps.  This process is meant to be continued until you feel you have a reasonably cohesive outcome as a whole.

The Story Of Finding Our Niche:

We knew we wanted to build a business that would work while we traveled in our van.  It also made perfect sense that it would be related to van life.  What we didn’t know for some time was what our business would look like, and we had many false starts.  Had we executed a discovery phase we would have condensed 9 months of wandering into 2 months.  We would also be far ahead of where we are today.

As we explored “van life” online, we soon learned that there is a lot of competition out there, specifically in how to build out your van and what day to day life in a van looks like.  While there is still a lot of space in that niche, and there are many competitive advantages that could be established, we learned a few things about ourselves.  The biggest is that we have no interest in being the subjects of videos nor all the time and skills it would require to turn out a quality product.

We started with the idea of covering anything and everything related to van life and it felt diluted.  The result of having an expansive topic was that there was no real topic, almost a sister concept to “if you try to please everyone, then you will end up pleasing no one.”  We needed to focus and have an actual message.  What was our true niche?

Zeroing In On Our Narrowed Niche Focus:

We observed that many van dwellers are often asked how they support themselves while on the road.  Many are asked it so many times that you will see them continually refer to an earlier post.  Generally, these answers are not very expansive and tend to leave more questions than answers.  Some that we follow have eventually made references to what they are doing, but it still ends up being quite vague, often nothing in the way of how to start a business or the challenges of running a business while traveling in a van.

When we considered what skills we possess, as well as what was interesting enough for a longterm journey of continuing education, we chose the business of how to start and operate a business on the road.  We have enough past experience to help, but there is also so much we will need to learn as we go.

The very fact that we acknowledge we have a lot to learn and will make mistakes is actually a key component of what we are offering to our audience.  We will be transparent, we will be real.  You will get to learn from our mistakes.  As we achieve each higher stage of success you will be witnessing first hand that it can be done.

So, our niche developed as follows:

  1. We started with the broad niche of van life.  Building out your van, living in a van, cooking in a van, working in a van, etc.
  2. Narrowed this to “The Laptop Lifestyle: How To Build Your Own Mobile Business.”
  3. We are currently narrowed to the subset topic of “Discovery Phase.”  We want to dwell in this narrowest of focus to fully explore it.
  4. Repeat 3 as new subsets of number 2 as they present themselves.

Through becoming as narrowly focused as we can, we are accomplishing a few things:

  1.   We have perfect clarity on what our current topic is.  It is very clear that we are focused on “The Discovery Phase” at this time.  Further, this is Step 1 of 10, so we also know what we will be working on for at least the next 9 weeks, and that is only if everything goes to plan, so it may be longer.
  2.   Since we are staying on topic for awhile, it will actually communicate a clear message to any reader that finds this post interesting or useful to come back for more.  As a backlog of content builds up, it gives someone new who arrives on our site more to read and get to know what we are about.
  3.   This extended singular focus, if executed properly, helps Google to better understand what this site is about.  We are regularly adding additional content, which Google likes.  We are focused on building depth of content with a keyword focus, which Google also likes.  Google is focused on delivering the best answers and/or more complete resources to those searching on Google.  The more you aim to deliver the results that Google wants for their users, the more Google will recognize you and offer you up as a top search result.

Another Niche Example – Cooking

If your topic were to be cooking, that too is quite a broad topic.  When your content is all over the place, how long will it take you to have enough content under the various sub topics to keep anyone on your site or get them to return?

If we were searching for a recipe for a new hors d’oeuvre to try, we would likely want to scan quite a few of them.  Recipes having ingredients that we didn’t like would automatically be eliminated.  Some would be eliminated because it appears too complex or involve ingredients that we have no idea what they are.  Long story short, if you even managed to get us to your site in the first place, what are the odds we would stick around with one recipe or even five?

By starting with a narrow focus, it will allow you to build up more content specific to it.  That would encourage people to stay on your site given it’s the very reason your site was found in the first place.

More Sub Niche Options

You could break down the broad niche of cooking into all of the typical sections found in the average cookbook.  You could focus on a specific ethnic cuisine or related to a particular dietary need such as gluten free.  Is your site specifically all vegetarian or vegan?  Or, is that simply a subcategory within your niche?  Another concept could be to focus on what you cook with, such as crock pot recipes.

Before realizing we needed a more singular focus, we had intended to have a van life cooking category.  What might a site dedicated to cooking while living in a van look like?  Imagine treating cooking in a van much like the common approach to a minimalist wardrobe.  What ingredients are the most versatile in multiple recipes while offering ease of preparing a meal?  What about the least amount of utensils, ease of cleanup, as well as ease of storage?  Generally, there will be less than typical refrigeration space available, if any.  What might a simple spice palate look like?  It is unlikely that you would want to have the 30-40 spices we have in our house in your van.  So far, we have salt, pepper & garlic powder in our van, but then again, we have not really done much in the way of cooking in our van yet.

Post Takeaway

You should have a clear vision of a narrow niche focus to start with and insight into short term expansion.  Knowing where you are headed long term is wise.  Just don’t be surprised if your long term reality turns out to have little resemblance to your original intention.

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