How to find your micro niche as a language teacher
When I talk about micro niches, many language teachers say things like this:
"Is it bad for business to not serve everyone?"
"I don't want to turn people away!"
"If I limit my offers, I won't find any students!"
The idea of really narrowing down might seem limiting at first. Many language teachers feel that they want to help as many learners as possible. Isn't it better for business to try and serve as many people as possible? Well, actually no. Apart from the fact that struggling in bloody waters is stressful and exhausting, there are two other important reasons for why this is a good idea.
Firstly, by having your own unique spot in your area, you can actually complement other teachers in your field. This means that your competitors can instead become your partners so that you can collaborate with them. This in turn will make it much easier for you to present yourself to a wider audience (by guest blogging, joint webinars, joint live shows/podcasts and so on) and attract more clients.
Actually, I have a personal story about this. I met another Swedish teacher in my local area. We became friends and we really clicked. We started trying to figure out how we could collaborate, because we really wanted to do something together. But it was so difficult, as we were doing the exact same thing! Almost anything we came up with would mean that we would compete against each other. We were in the same ocean.
Recently though, I have met a Swedish singing teacher that I’m collaborating with to create pronunciation courses (Swedish is quite vowel-heavy, so coming at it from the perspective of singing is really interesting!). This is a perfect collaboration, as we are complementing each other - not competing.
I would really recommend you to look around, see what other teachers are doing within your language, and see if you can find a way to create a micro niche, a blue ocean that would complement what they do. That way, you can befriend them and create fun and exciting joint ventures that will be a win-win for you both.
Secondly, it will make it so much easier when you’re creating your material, your marketing content and your brand. Everything will become much clearer to you in terms of design, core message and how to define what you offer. You’ll be more visible and relevant and you’ll attract more learners.
Think about how many things there are to learn for someone who wants to learn a language. The four main skills, lots and lots of different aspects of grammar, specific pronunciation, culture, media, and so on. If you try and cover everything, it will soon become diluted, scattered and also difficult to keep track of. It’s much better to drill down and become an expert in a more specific area.
Let's look at how you can start to identify your own micro niche. You can also download this list of where to look.
How can I identify a micro-niche?
There’s one important aspect to finding your micro niche, and that is finding what your potential clients really need and want. It’s all very well to find a niche, but if no one wants what you have to offer, you will not have a viable business.
You need to listen in to what clients want and what they ask for, and then design services and products that solve their problems. If you can offer something that solves a problem that language learners have, they will come to you and do business with you.
In his book Expert Secrets, Russell Brunson uses a couple of questions to establish whether that field has space for a new business. You’ll need to ask the questions to the submarket (or niche), as you’ll be attracting people from that market into your new blue ocean.
If the language you’re teaching is a little bit smaller, you can imagine asking this question to the people who are learning your language. If the language you’re teaching has already split up into broader areas and that is already an area in which you’re in (for example business English), imagine asking these questions to that market. You don’t actually have to literally ask these questions, just ask yourself and see what you think the answer would be.
5 questions to think about
1. Would people in this submarket/niche be excited about the new opportunity that I am presenting? If they are going to take a step over to your new business, they need to feel excited about it.
2. Are the people in this market irrationally passionate? Are there online forums and groups on social media dedicated to this topic (Facebook, YouTube channels, podcasts, blogs, etc)?
3. Are these people willing and able to spend money on information? You need people to be both willing and able to spend money. Only being willing but not able will not make learners pay for your services, neither will being able but not willing.
4. Does this market have its own events? This could be online seminars/conferences for example. If it doesn’t, you might find it hard to get learners to attend online training events, if that is a route you would like to go down.
5. Does this market have its own celebrities and gurus? It will be much easier for you if the submarket already has established people who can sustain a business in this field, as the market is already there. The trick however, as mentioned before, is to carve out a unique spot within this eco system and complement the people who are already there.
You might think that you should just simply choose the most profitable area, and that this will guarantee success. This is a mistake; the most profitable area may not be the one you’re most passionate about. In the end, you'll eventually be overtaken by someone else who is more passionate about this topic.
Another way to explore opportunities for micro niches is to search out your submarket and listen in and really pay attention. Your goal is to identify what people’s problems and pains are, and see if you can design a solution.
Because you’re looking to establish yourself in a micro niche, people online (or in the real world for that matter) won’t be talking about the service or product you’ll be offering, because they won’t know that it exist yet.
But the problem that they have exists. And it’s your job to find out what they need.
Here is a list of where you can find your submarkets so you can start doing your research straight away.