One of my consulting clients recently asked,
“How can I establish myself to become well known and recognized for what I do?”
There are many different paths you can take to become well known and established.
Just like anything else in the world of being a creative entrepreneur, one-size does not fit all!
But, the quickest route to being recognized, no matter what you do for a living, is to:
- Find a niche
- Focus on that niche; and
- Do excellent work for a long period of time within that niche.
HOW TO FIND YOUR NICHE
The best niche to focus on is one that you feel passionate about.
If you love what you’re doing, you’ll stay dedicated long enough to see success. You’ll also do your best work.
The power of the niche is the old “big fish in a little pond” theory. It’s more likely that you’ll become well known for something when you focus in one small area.
For example, If you love horses, and you focus on painting horses, and you mingle within groups of people who live the equestrian lifestyle, consistently, you will eventually become known as THE artist to go to if you want a painting of horses.
CAN YOU BE ALL THINGS TO ALL PEOPLE?
Never have I heard anyone say “Oh that’s Bob Green; he’s well known for doing everything!”
I know of artists who paint in many different styles and mediums and subject matters; they try to be all things to everyone. But then they get lost in the shuffle, because they are a little fish in a huge pond.
It’s okay to not have a niche, but if you want to become known for something, you have to focus in one area.
Listed below are a few different areas in which you can find your niche:
BECOME KNOWN FOR YOUR STYLE
Some artists have a style that is unmistakable.
You don’t have to see their name on the work to know they did it; artists like Salvador Dali and Picasso. (Whatever you do, don’t become known as the guy who knocks off other artists!)
If you have a distinctive style, you eventually become known for it. See examples below:
GENEVIEVE DOMARATSKY POTTERY: On my wedding day I was given a set of wheel-thrown stoneware pottery from a South Carolina artist named Genevieve. Her style of pottery is so distinct that when in California recently, someone saw one of my bowls and said “Oh my gosh, is that a Genevieve bowl?!”
Genevieve was a big fish in a very little pond; she never had a website, but sold her beautiful pottery out of Pawley’s Island for decades. She has a following of fans who will do anything to keep their collection intact.
ANNE GEDDES AND BABIES: Anne Geddes has taken her passion for babies and combined it with amazing photography. She is known for photographing babies in unique positions!
BECOME KNOWN AS A LOCAL (GEOGRAPHICALLY SPEAKING)
Focus your art or services in one local area.
Become known as “the artist of your town” or the “glass blower of Charleston” and over time, you will be the first person that comes to mind for local projects.
LOCAL WEB DESIGNER : My friend Debbie began San Clemente Website Design a few years ago. She made the decision to focus her services on local businesses. This was brilliant, because now she is known as the person to go to for local entrepreneurs. She has more business than she can handle; and it’s because she has focused her energy (and her knowledge) in one area.
THE STEELE CITY ARTIST: Charles Ott, an architectural illustrator, creates detailed hand-drawn pen & ink illustrations of prominent Pittsburgh and American landmarks. He calls himself the Steel City Artist because he focuses his work on that area of Pittsburgh, and is well known for that.
BECOME KNOWN FOR A LIFESTYLE
Take what you love; a hobby, a passion, a charity; and marry that with your talent to create a niche.
DREW BROPHY, SURF ARTIST: An avid surfer, Drew started his art career as a teenager, painting surfboards. For years, he consistently painted anything surf industry related. Eventually, he became well known in surf. Now he takes his art outside of that industry, riding on the popularity that he established in the niche of surf.
GUY HARVEY, FISHERMAN: Guy Harvey is an excellent example of someone who lives an avid lifestyle and has married it with his art talent. A diver and fisherman, Guy Harvey is one of the most collected artists of sea life alive today.
STEPHEN KING: The author known for writing novels that scare us in the middle of the night! King has focused his writing on horror, suspense and science fiction.
JOHN T. UNGER: John has developed a unique style of fire bowls. He creates a sculpture from scrap industrial steel, cutting by hand with a plasma torch at 45,000° Fahrenheit; the result is a beautiful, handmade fire bowl.
THE ART GUY: Artist Guy Birger has made a name for himself by painting on shoes. It started out small, but now he has a huge following. He’s become known as the Art Shoe Guy!
STILL NEED HELP FINDING YOUR NICHE?
If you still need help, don’t just read this, grab a pen and paper. Sit down and have a cuppa tea (or a glass of wine – pick your poison).
Find a quiet spot. Write down and ask yourself the following questions to help you gain clarity:
- What do I love doing most? (think lifestyle, not work)
- Where would I be happiest? (think location)
- What do I really feel passionate about? (think people, places, things)
And then reflect on something you’ve done in the past:
- What project did I do in the past that I really, really enjoyed, and that flowed out of me easily?
- Why was it so easy for me?
- Was it the people, the medium, the project, or something else?
- Where do I WANT to focus my time and efforts?
When I started this blog, I had a few friends advise me to write about general topics that would speak to a wider audience. But I found that when I wrote about the business of art, more people responded to my posts. Now, I’m very comfortable in this niche of helping creative entrepreneurs.
One reason finding your niche is so powerful is because when we focus in one area, and we consistently work on it, we get better and better at it. Eventually, we become the go-to person in that niche.
Please share in the comments, what is your niche? Or are you still looking for it? And what’s your greatest challenge with finding your niche?
*Here’s a good article for artists: Create a Niche Market for Your Art on Fine Art Tips Blog.