Estimated reading time: 6 minutes
What I’ll learn from this article: The importance of following your dreams and working for them, through the inspiring example of Isaac Childres.
Hey there, John Mackenzie again. Today, I wanna talk about a more personal topic than usual: Hobbies.
Do you have a hobby? I do – many, actually – but I particularly enjoy board games, video games and everything RPG-related. I must confess, I’m a geek at heart. This is a passion I regularly share to my team in Staff Leverage – we even set up an online platform for playing Dungeons & Dragons!
Some people might think it’s odd. How do business and fantasy games mix in someone’s agenda? Well, my friend, I’m going to tell you about Isaac Childres.
Dream for a Living
Founder and director of Cephalofair Games, Isaac is someone who loves board games. He loves them so much, in fact, that he abandoned a more prestigious path to fully delve into his burning desire of creating games.
And the thing is, it worked for Isaac. According to Cephalofair’s website:
“He was going to be a physicist (got his PhD and everything), but then decided it would be more fun to design and publish board games for a living. He hasn’t regretted that decision yet.”
As you can see, Isaac Childres was already an accomplished person in his studies and was very well on track to what would had been his career for life. But he discarded it. He opted instead to pursue a completely different path.
No task is meaningless, no enterprise is unworthy, no alley is too narrow, and no idea is useless for an inspired business. I personally am enamoured with the world of digital marketing, so I decided to dedicate my entire being to this specific subject. And I love it.
Isaac has shown me that it’s never too late to pick up a dream.
How a Hobby turns into a Business
And Isaac’s current success is a bit more than just moderate, mind you. His most renowned game, Gloomhaven, has been critically and commercially acclaimed, rated the Best Board Game of 2017 and retained that title throughout the following year. So, how did he get there?
He funded himself through Kickstarter and raised over $4 million from two different campaigns, then he used that money to design a game that he would personally love. As an avid player himself, Isaac built what he would like to play – What he would pay to play.
You see tired people everywhere, tired because they’re doing something they don’t enjoy. But forcing yourself into work is never advised. Great success is only really attainable when you’re pouring your everything onto a specific labour, when you have a vision you want to make a reality, when you’re working not for payment but for an ideal.
Isaac is proof of that, if you work your ideals hard enough, you can turn your hobbies into your job.
Honesty as a Foundation for Profits
So now that we’ve mentioned Isaac’s Kickstarter campaigns… How did he do it? How exactly do you convince people to donate over $4 million so you can make a game? For Isaac Childres, the answer was really simple – With sincerity.
Throughout his two very successful pleads, this man never tried to deceive or hide anything from anyone. He envisioned a goal, he knew the path that would take him there, but he needed a vehicle to drive him there. In this case, the vehicle was his funders.
An expansive game-world that progressed and changed permanently as players completed different scenarios. Isaac had a powerful idea that clearly resonated with plenty of like-minded gamers, and he was never shy to let others see everything he was doing at every step of development.
Every new playable class he conceived, every new map he drew, every new story arc he wrote… Isaac shared as much as he could about his project until it’s completion. And even though he admits he might have gone overboard with the spoilers at points, the results are hard enough evidence that it worked.
Customers love honesty. People can’t fully commit to a cause unless they clearly understand what that cause is about; be open and truthful about your actions, this is how you convert simple prospects into fans. Not limited to Kickstarting, this applies to any enterprise. Never forget the golden rule: Business is about satisfying your clients.
As long as you remain on the correct path and strive to provide the best product you can, there’s absolutely no reason to be shifty or secretive. If you’re doing good, showing it will increase confidence with your brand; if you aren’t doing that good, your own customers can provide feedback and help you improve your company.
Isaac’s campaign is the perfect example of how solid honesty can be as the foundation for a business.
Inspiration and Success
Of course, success isn’t something that you obtain instantly. It’s a long way paved with hardships that can only overcome when you’re devoted to your end-goal while also having fun on the road. To sum it up: Success is fueled by inspiration.
This is a concept that works best at the highest of levels. I didn’t build Staff Leverage for the money I would be making out of it, I founded my company with the intention of changing lives. I want a business gigantic enough to provide jobs for talented individuals all around the world, to fight off poverty and improving the lives of as many people as possible.
My daily grind is making my company the best it could be, this is my dream; do you think it’s too grand? Therein lies the secret: No dream is too grand to strive for.
You see big names in the news every day, you surely know about many figures in your industry who are doing incredible things… You might believe they’re in a league of their own, but keep in mind that, in the end, they’re just normal people. They are changing the world, so why can’t you do it too?
Instead of being afraid of trying something “too big”, look up at those who have already achieved things equally as big. Be empowered by other’s tales, take in their recommendations and philosophies, research and sort out what works best; then apply all these to your own idea and create something truly unique, something only you would be able to make – just like Isaac Childres does.
Isaac has taught me the value of inspiration in any field of business.
Integrate your Passions into your Work
Truth is, everyone, regardless of their actual professional occupation, holds a passion in a different area. Some like soccer, others enjoy collecting antiquities, and most people nowadays count movies and TV shows among their main entertainment source.
Yet, there are so few who take the chance of actually working with these passions. Most try to separate both worlds, shoving aside their own personal interests and striding with a “Strictly business” attitude when they work.
Instead, I encourage you to integrate what you love into what you do. Use your hobby as a driving force to deliver a better product; enjoying your work to the fullest can only improve your performance at it.
That’s why I devised a categorization for clients based on mythical creatures like dragons and vampires. That’s why I regard my employees as the knights and magicians of my business kingdom. That’s why I’m writing an article about the designer of the best-selling board game of the last couple of years.
What I learned from Isaac Childres is to embrace your passions and make them profitable. Go out there, share your dream with the world and earn a living by having a blast every day.
Do you know why sometimes you find a product for something that’s so incredibly specific that you can’t understand how it came to be? Finding a solution for such a particular need is what converts into a niche product or service.
That’s how major brands have grown, offering a solution to a problem or an idea for something that nobody has ever thought before. For that reason, so many people have been trying to do it for a while now. But, what’s the secret to doing it?
For some, niche markets are precise and narrow paths to sales. But there’s more to it: they often come with challenges exclusive to their target audience, sometimes even aggressive competition from people with more time in the business.
However, I’ve compiled a handy list of things you should do when it comes to identifying (and using!) niche markets for your brand.
But first, let’s break down what a niche market is exactly and why you should use it.
What are niche markets?
Niche markets are nothing but a smaller portion of a market, one that is differentiated by the interest of potential buyers in products or services that are tailored to their needs. Let’s break it down with an example that most of us could relate to: smartphones. What if you decide to buy one?
The broader market contains several submarkets, called “niches” where brands could market their product. For example, phones that work under duress conditions (think of water, dirt, heat, humidity, etc.) that are sold to nature lovers and backpackers is a niche market.
Now, where does the difference between a niche market and a regular market stand? Several factors could indicate if something is or isn’t one of those small, highly profitable markets.
Some of these are the following:
- Demographically specific: this means that you select your audience for their geographic location. For example, a city where your niche market is young women with children over five years old.
- Pricing specific: if you have a price range that’s incredibly specific, you’re already in a niche market in your product or service offering. For example, high-value products are in a niche market, and this makes them exclusive for a particular audience.
- Psychographically specific: what’s the interest of the audience you want to reach? The psychographic factors such as attitude, lifestyle, personality and so on. These will have to be directly related and resolving a need in your target audience, for the niche using this factor to work.
- Quality specific: appealing to a specific audience it’s important; it’s all that matters when it comes to quality niches. Most of the times, these are limited to high-quality items or budget-friendly products, but these markets often need to be within an additional niche to be profitable.
The handy guide to identifying niche markets for your brand
Once you’re sure you want to play in the big (yet narrow) league of branding for niches, you need to know something: while these can be highly profitable, identifying them is a challenge that can make or break your project.
Why is this? Because the impact of niche markets is rarely comprehended until you’re already working in them.
For that, we’re going to give you a handy guide for you to find and explore the wonders of these specialty-business opportunities.
Implement market research strategies
If you’re planning on working within a niche, you need to make sure that you’re using the right approach when it comes to sales psychology. The factors that come into play when offering a product or service need to be as aligned as possible to create positive results in the long run.
Use market research strategies to work on a practical solution, one that could help you understand just exactly where you could focus.
Is it on a product or a service? What’s age group has the most consumers? What’s their income?
Focus on data that could narrow down your insight into where to look for your niche audience; that way you’ll have a more active approach to the business as a whole.
What are some effective market research strategies?
- Face-to-face surveys
- Online polls
- Customer habits analysis
- Geographic data analysis
Study the needs of your audience
If, on the other hand, you know exactly the audience you want to talk to, for example, young males between 25 to 35 years, you need to use your market research strategies to know the potential consumer for what might be offering.
Studying the needs of your target audience also gives you a tool to explore their purchase behaviours, and to identify potential future projects.
Now, you might be using market research strategies for this, and that’s great. But you have to take it up a notch to find your preferred audience’s likings. This is when a good team of experts comes in handy; you’ll have an informed opinion on the real applications of your offering for your audience.
This is fundamental for all fields, as it implies that you’re doing the extra mile when it comes to creating something functional and profitable.
Select a target market (and an audience)
Being broad and trying to include a handful of markets for niche offerings is a sure way to miss the mark. Most of the time you’ll find yourself lacking the necessary focus to work effectively.
For that reason, selecting a target market, it’s perfect to narrow down your strategies to something that can be studied and worked with.
Once you do, create ideal buyer personas for your niche to work. This will help you create a more specific strategy to work with them when it comes to offering, production, marketing and so on. Keep in mind that buyer personas, while within your market, might not be who you want as an audience in the long run.
These will always be evolving as you work in your product or service, so consider making adequate changes to them every time you get analytics on your brand.
Use keyword investigation
It might be the simplest, but more effective way to identify niche market ideas; as it’s functional and almost anyone can do it in a pinch. With tools to identify keywords, you’re rarely off the mark when it comes to identifying niches.
Some even use this as their primary job: they create websites with these keywords and then use them to sell referral products that fit within that category.
If you want a business on your own, however, keyword research is an excellent way to start narrowing down potential alternatives for products or services in your area or within a defined audience.
Keywords also work as vantage points when it comes to selecting a niche, as you can already narrow down certain aspects, like monthly searches, competitivity and ad pricing (if desired).
Bits of advice to work on niche markets
Don’t think you’ll find success overnight: it’s important that you know how to manage your expectations in niche markets. These, while small, tend to be competitive and most of the time you’d have to make a conscious effort to offer more than other alternatives. The best tip? Have patience and work within a structure.
Now here are some tidbits on how to work effectively within niche markets:
Create realistic short term goals
While it’s interesting to find solutions for problems or needs, you can’t try to fix it all at once. Create realistic goals that work for your project, and plans to achieve them.
That way you’ll stay motivated to work through thick and thin, as regardless of how you do it, you’ll be achieving things that will work towards your ultimate goal.
It’s best if you avoid using overly complicated tactics to work niches. Focus on how humans behave: they want the easy and most straightforward method 90% of the time; why create something complicated?
Use simple tactics and (unless it goes with your niche) a simple language that everyone can understand to send the message. It will look and feel more natural, and that’s incredibly appealing to audiences.
Focus on ROI
The return of investment is fundamental when you’re working on marketing strategies, and while it might not look all that important for marketing efforts when compared to financial gains, it’s key to success.
A high ROI for social media efforts and other plans is perfect as it will enable you to focus on furthering your efforts to achieve more goals in the niche market while you establish a good online presence.
Don’t neglect social media
While to the non-initiated it might look like a monster with a lot of heads, social media is an incredible tool for niches. It allows you to tailor your efforts for a more defined audience; that, in turn, creates an efficient path to reach their hearts (and their pockets!).
Use strategies that are as innovative as you can, boost engagement and create curiosity. With that, you’ll have social media working for your niche in no time. And to do so, there’s no better way than to use the right information from valuable sources. That’s why I invite you to browse through our library of lessons in business practices that could take your brand or project to the next level.
By John Mackenzie – Founder & CEO of Staff Leverage, NT Digital and JohnMac Digital
Do you want to be successful? We know how you can be. For more information on the previous topics and deeper insight into the intricacies of efficient business, see the following articles:
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