The traditional way of finding your niche as a designer is unsatisfying.
It’s a solid logical approach grounded in market demand. It’s also boring to me. It’s really uninspiring and demotivating. Afterward, you are done with the mental exercise of finding some sort of answer. Let’s say I picked fintech.
You going to be a designer of fintech products. I get excited to change my LinkedIn bio and my website tagline. And then my motivation drops. Why is that?
What did the market and most of the people participating in it value the most? Money. So naturally, all of the known positioning strategies are designed to help you make that money.
I want to make that money. Why is this not working for me?
It turns out I don’t care about money that much. I do but it’s not my highest held value.
Here is how I find out.
Pick your niche according to your own values
First, you have to know what you value. I thought I already knew mine. I can easily list a few that I’ve heard people who are smarter than I am say in a podcast. But isn’t it the same as the market example? I’m using other people’s values to set my own path in life. This is not right.
I’m guessing most people consume a lot of content these days. We spend most of the time with other people’s ideas in our heads. So to keep it real and honest, I decided to look at the past to try to uncover what I care about.
To make this work for you, you are going to need to write a bit. If you try to do it in your head while reading this, it’s going to be a challenge.
Gather the stories
- Stories I tell time and time align
- People or personalities that influence my life throughout the different stages of my life
- Positive memories that make me feel good throughout the different stages of my life
- Negative memories that make me feel low throughout the different stages of my life
This is getting a bit woo-woo and weird but it’s also kind of fun to see what comes out of it. Think of it like you are doing UX research and you have reading access to the brain of your perfect customer.
Come on Elon how much longer should we wait for this mindreading interface?
- What are the common themes of these stories?
- What are the common trades of the people I gravitate around?
- What do I believe is true such that I label different memories as positive or negative?
Relate to the market
- What type of work looks so fun that you can do it in perpetuity even without getting paid?
- What are the type of people toward whom you gravitate? Where are they working?
- What is the type of companies that solve problems you care about?
- What industry holds similar values and worldview to yours?
Try to answer this last batch of questions only using the insights you uncover from your past. Be honest, no one needs to see this. Disregard trendy job titles and industries that someone says this is where you should go or do.
I’ve recently read that what has happened to you in the past has nothing to do with what will happen to you in the future. We just choose to use it as an excuse. So, I don’t know, I might have wasted your time with this one.
Let me know.