If you’ve been considering changing your niche but don’t know where to start – you’re in the right place.
While changing your niche can be scary, I want to assure you that it can be done successfully. Your practice can continue to thrive with new clients, your existing clients won’t feel left behind and your marketing can adjust.
If you’re ready to learn how, let’s dive into my top 6 tips for changing niches.
I was originally inspired to create this post because of a question I received on Instagram: What if I want to change my counseling niche? And, how do I advertise that change properly?
I love this question and in this article, we’re going to dive into some tools to help you identify when you’re ready to shift your private practice specialties.
I’ll also share six tips for changing niches to help you make that transition smoothly.
First, let’s start by debunking this myth:
Once you choose a specialty for your practice, you do NOT need to stick by it forever and ever!
In fact, I think on average, most therapists will naturally shift interests and specialties over the course of their career. Case in point, when I started grad school, I thought I would primarily specialize in working with children.
And though there is still some tie between that and my current interests, it turns out that I don’t even like working with kids and I haven’t in over 10 years!
Interests change. Or sometimes maybe we missed the mark to begin with. We grow as people, we mature, and our private practices should be allowed to grow and change with us. Our clients will be better off for it too.
But without some regular check-in in place, we may not notice that our interests have shifted, and instead we just grow more and more tired of our work – without really being sure why.
To avoid this, I suggest doing a yearly check-in. I use the same niching exercise I shared in one of the first videos on this channel. Basically, brainstorm what items you like about the clients you work with – or maybe the clients you wish you could be working with in an ideal world, and then collect common threads between them.
Changes in your niche are not only okay…they’re GOOD.
Inevitably, there will be at least some nuanced shifts from one year to the next when you do this exercise. And there may be some years when your interests shift to an entirely new direction.
That is not only okay – it’s GOOD! You are growing and changing as a person. Please celebrate that!
Now let’s say you do this niching exercise and realize that what you’re interested in now is significantly different from what’s advertised on your website. Maybe, for example, you’ve been working exclusively with kids and you’d now like to pivot to working with couples.
In this case, it helps to make a significant pivot in your marketing strategy, so the folks you want to work with can find you and know what you’re about.
Below is the list of my top six tips for changing niches.
Six tips to change your niche:
- Evaluate your existing marketing strategies. How did your existing clients find you? It’s helpful to know the exact route they take to find you so you know where to make changes. If you’d like to learn more about how to identify how your clients are finding you, I talk all about identifying your marketing funnel in my video about how to fix a practice that isn’t full.
- See what from your existing marketing strategies might still work (with minor tweaking). For example, if most of your clients are finding you through an online directory. Great! See what needs to be tweaked in your directory listing to help your new ideal clients find you there.
- Shift to new marketing strategies where needed. For example, if you’ve always worked with kids up until now and you received most of your referrals from schools, but now you want to work with couples, you may want to target a different referral source where there might be more couples referrals.
- Speak to your new ideal client on your website. You don’t need to make a public announcement to the world that you’re giving up your old specialty. You can simply shift your language on your website to now be speaking to your ideal client. It’s up to you whether you keep your website largely the same but simply add on a new page under your specialties menu, or if you want to completely rework your site. You have the option of making the transition slowly or abruptly based on what you think will work best for you and your practice.
- If your old specialty is in your business name: For example, if your business name was “Kids Counseling San Jose” and now you don’t want to work with kids anymore, this takes a few more steps and a bit more thought, but it’s totally possible to transition. You can create a new business name, whether it be specific again (like “couples counseling San Jose”) or more broadly. At that point, I’d build out a new website for your new business name, and once that site is ready you can keep your old domain – let’s say it’s kidstherapysanjose.com, and have an announcement on that page that says something like: “Kids therapy San Jose is now the San Jose Wellness Center. Click here to view our new website!”
- Decide whether you wish to continue with existing clients. In most cases, I think most therapists will keep their existing clients and allow them to transition off their caseload naturally. But if you’re realizing you need to refer your existing clients out – particularly in a scenario where the client work you’re doing might be exacerbating a trauma or have other implications for your personal well-being – you have the full freedom to do so. In this case, you can follow all the same guidelines I cover in my video about how to refer out. You don’t need to self-disclose any personal matters, but you can inform your clients that you’ve become aware that you need to shift the nature of the work that you’re offering, and that you will help them find a therapist who is better suited for them. I know that’s not easy, but ultimately it will be better for both you and your clients to do so.
There you have it folks! 6 tips to change your niche.
I know it can be scary to shift specialties – maybe there’s a fear that you suddenly won’t be able to get new clients anymore, or that your existing clients will feel left behind if your language has shifted online.
But, I’ve found this hasn’t been the case for me when I’ve made these shifts.
Building your brand
If you do decide to move forward with changing your niche, it may be helpful to think about building a new brand story (or making one for the first time if you have yet to do this!).
I have a video that outlines exactly how to develop your brand story in private practice. For those of you that prefer to read, you can check out the article version here.
I hope you find my top 6 tips for changing niches helpful.
And until next time, from one therapist to another: I wish you well!