How to love what you do and make money at it

Think about the most enjoyable aspects of what you do, and see where it leads you
  • By mixing your passions with the reality of your market’s needs, your niche market will provide you with additional income and make going to work more enjoyable.

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What do you want to be when you grow up? Ask any child that, and you’ll be met with a plethora of hysterically optimistic answers.

As a kid, I wanted to grow up to be an Olympic Gold-medal-winning equestrian, despite the fact that I didn’t have the money to train, a horse or any of the other necessities to promote my dream.

At least it was more realistic than my best friend’s occupational dreams; despite the fact that she was terrified of clowns as well as cows, she wanted to be a rodeo clown.

As time passes and we grow up, most of us end up in professions that were hardly dream-worthy as children. I don’t know of any child that grows up thinking, “Wow, when I grow up, I want to work in information technology.”

It just doesn’t have the same ring as wanting to be an astronaut.

Most people don’t think that real estate sales could possibly be a rewarding or glamorous profession, but for those of us who love what we do, we couldn’t imagine doing anything else.

I think a large part of finding any career enjoyable and rewarding, especially as a real estate agent, is finding something about it that you love.

Finding your particular niche in the industry can set you apart from your fellow agents and keep you working in the areas that are most personally rewarding for you. By being more comfortable and confident in your happy zone, you will also provide better, more detailed service.

Niche marketing is basically: concentrating all marketing efforts on a small specific and well-defined segment of the population. Niches don’t exist, they are created by identifying needs, wants and requirements that are being poorly addressed and developing goods or services to satisfy them.

As a strategy, niche marketing is aimed at being a big fish in a small pond rather than a guppy in the ocean.

To niche or not to niche? That is the question!

Finding your niche really is all about how to market yourself. When you break it down, there are three easy and simple steps to niche marketing:

  1. Finding something specific that a community needs or wants.
  2. This need is not currently offered or is offered but done poorly by someone else.
  3. Finding a way to deliver that service to a satisfying degree.

So you have an idea, and there is currently no one out there to provide for it. Great! Or is it?

Entrepreneur Magazine suggests to always do a small test market to see if it’s going to work. Is there no one providing this service because there is no need for it, or have others tried and failed to penetrate this market?

A great example of this comes from the world of blogging. Francesca Banducci’s first blog was called TheSportsGirl.com, and was all about women who love to watch football.

So far so good, she was catering to a specific demographic and sport. She blogged frequently and enthusiastically, but stayed at a steady readership of six people for months, and five of them were men. So, back to the drawing board, she went.

To prevent spending a lot of time and money on a niche that may not work out, Banducci recommends hitting social media sites to test out your ideas. Informal posts and polls can give you an idea if your new-found specialty really has an audience with a need.

How to use your newfound niche

Few agents start out with the luxury of turning away business because they only want to do what’s in their niche. As we all need to make a living, we don’t have the luxury of waiting for the perfect client or property.

Until we can build up a reputation as being the go-to guy or gal for a specific need, most of us start off fairly broad in what we are willing to do. Niche marketing is a great way to supplement your existing business by seeking new markets or a “deeper experience.”

However, niche marketing does not need to be a static concept. As time goes on, your niche may morph into something new based on what you find yourself enjoying the most.

Sometimes, niche markets also dry up, as the area demographics change through time. Keep your finger on the pulse of your niche community to continually check the flow of your business.

Where to find your niche

It’s all about passion. Finding your niche means finding what you enjoy and what you are passionate about. Still not sure where to look?

Here are five broad categories to get you started on finding your passion and turning it into your niche.

1. Favorite fields of study

There are numerous designations out there, and many agents have enough letters after their names to require a second line on their business cards to spell them all out.

Additional education is always a good idea, and there are numerous ways to specialize with this additional education.

If you love working with buyers, then maybe go after your ABR (accredited buyer’s representative).

Are you in an area where there are a lot of military bases, or were you in the military before going into real estate?

Seeking additional education and opportunities to work with military relocation or veterans associations is a great way to serve. Who else would know better about military relocations than someone who has been through them?

2. What types of properties do you want to pursue?

Are you an avid golfer who knows all the local links like the back of your hand? Maybe advertise yourself as an agent who works specifically finding people homes in golfing communities.

Are you an avid gardener, or do you have experience raising chickens? Maybe your real estate calling includes helping clients find the perfect small homestead properties.

Regardless of what type of property is your passion, make sure you know enough about it to be able to safely call yourself an expert. If you don’t know which end of the horse to feed and which to shovel, then selling equestrian properties is not the right niche for you.

But if you grew up in a family that grew grapes and made wine, you are the perfect fit to be an agent to those seeking to purchase land for a vineyard.

3. How specialized do you want to get?

Depending on where you live, there are a number of opportunities for specialization.

Living at the Jersey Shore, you could choose between luxury beachfront mansions, condos or even work in the rental market.

You may want to focus even more and spend your time and resources becoming the subdivision or neighborhood specialist where you live.

There are few better ways to stay in front of your neighborhood clients than getting a little networking in while walking Fido — and what a great way to market to those who also love dogs.

4. What clients do you find the most rewarding to work with?

From first-time buyers to downsizing seniors, there are a number of different “categories” of buyers and sellers to choose from.

Do you have the patience to help educate and hand-hold a first-time buyer? Those are exceptionally important skills when leading any person through something as complex as buying a first home.

If you don’t, that’s fine — maybe you are better-suited to work with investors or clients looking to rehab and flip homes.

5. Do you really enjoy the sales process?

If the unpredictable nature of the market leads you to want something with a more reliable paycheck, but you don’t want to leave the industry, there are a number of opportunities out there depending on what you do the best.

Some of these jobs can be done in conjunction with sales.

Do you love interior design and get lots of compliments of your own home? Do you feel you have an eye for design, color and furniture placement?

Home staging can be a side profession or an opportunity to set yourself apart in your sales career.

Do you just adore the organizational side of real estate and enjoy piles of paperwork? Transaction coordination may be your niche.

Think about what you enjoy the most about what you do, and then see where it leads you!

So my friend didn’t end up becoming a rodeo clown, and I am not an Olympic gold-medal winning equestrienne — and never will be. That’s OK.

Childhood dreams are great because they are a passionate expression, but without the reality of life experience, they rarely become more than a fond memory from years past.

By mixing your passions with the reality of your market’s needs, your niche market will provide you with additional income and make going to work more enjoyable.

Maria Dampman is the owner and manager of Smiling Cat Farm and a Virginia State licensed Realtor and ABR with Century 21 Redwood in Leesburg, Virginia. Visit her on Facebook or LinkedIn.

Email Maria Dampman