Episode 005 - Finding Your Niche and Standing Out (and 5 niches you've probably never thought about)

**Jackie:** Hello, welcome to Episode 5 of the Folding Towels Podcast with Jackie and David. In this episode, we talk about niching, why it’s important, how to identify your niche, and we talk about five niches that you’ve probably never heard of. So grab yourself a cup of herbal tea, sit back and relax while we talk about the things that bore you so you can get on with what you love. Welcome back to the Folding Towels Podcast. I am Jackie Kerin, 

**David:**and I’m David Clayton. So excited to be back. It’s marvelous. It is a sunny day today. It is beautiful, it’s lovely outside today. Hey, Jackie, did you know that 44% of podcasts only have three episodes? Three, really? Three total? Yes. So we are now on Episode 5. It’s now longer than most podcasts out there, and we are high achievers. 

**Jackie**:Oh my gosh. I had no idea. Wow, go us. Thanks for coming back, everyone. 

**David**: What have you been up to today, Jackie?

**Jackie:** Well, this morning, I did a little bit of work. I’m currently getting ready for tax season, so there’s a lot of computer stuff happening, and my brain hurts because of it. And then, a little bit after this, I’m actually going to get a massage. So that’s exciting. Yes, go. What have you been up to today, David? Anything fun?

**David:** Yeah, I took my kids—oh, I should say, it is school holidays right now. So I have taken a week’s leave. This is coming up to the last few days of being on annual leave. I had all these things planned that I thought I’d devote to business, but instead, I have woken up late, stayed in my pyjamas, has potted around, done activities with the people who I love. And this morning, we’ve been into the botanic gardens. And this afternoon, when we finish up here, I’m going to take my son camping, his very first time.

**Jackie:** Wow, that sounds really cool. To go, well, if you like camping, it sounds great. So today, we are having a very shallow look at niching. I say it’s shallow because it’s hardly a deep dive. And all the things that we talk about today, each one of those will probably form another episode. And I hope that we’ll still be around here for Episode 100 or so. We will look at some niches individually. So today, we will have a look at why niching is important, how you can take some steps defining your own niche, and then we’re going to have a look at five niches that you have probably never thought about. I’m so excited for this episode. So, Jackie, why is it important to niche?

**Jackie:** There are quite a few reasons, and I know that this is a very—there’s a lot of people listening right now that are rolling their eyes going, “I hate it so much. Like, why do I have to think about this?” But it actually makes you a better therapist. The reasons are you can give the person, your client, a reason to choose you. So if you, for instance, are a person in your area that specializes in headaches and you keep telling your people that you specialize in headaches and you can really help people that get headaches and migraines, why would someone that gets headaches and migraines not choose you?

**David:** Yeah, you’re going to become an excellent match for the client that wants to see you. Totally, yeah. Good reason. It’s like giving them a reason to choose you, stand out in that crowd. How many—the massage therapists are around me? There’s probably 20 within a 2 km drive of where I am. That sounds bad. Yeah, there’s a lot of people out there. That’s a lot. Yeah, they need a reason to—they need to feel comfortable with you and that you can actually help them. Some will choose you just because you’re close to them, and that’s fine. The next reason there is that we would end up with a client who is a good match for us and for our skill set.

**Jackie:** Absolutely. The client is going to call or book in with you and not know whether they can actually help you, whether you can help them, rather, sorry, a lot of the time. So I know there are some people that are very strict on who they see. They will speak to the client before the appointment, and they will say, “Look, sorry, I can’t help you.” Even I myself will do this with some of my clients, not all of them, but with some of them. I’ll speak to them on the phone, and I’ll ask them, “What are you coming in for? Do you actually need help with?” And if it is something that I can’t help them with—like, I don’t do any sports massage. I can do a little bit, but I certainly don’t want to work with any athletes. I don’t want to ruin their career. I don’t want that on my conscious conscience because I’m just not good at sports massage. And so, I will send them to a physio or I’ll send them off to someone else. And this means that you have more time on your table for people that you actually want to see.

**David:** Certainly. The best interest of our client is getting them the result that they deserve. And if you can’t help them to the best of your ability, then go. Having a good referral network, knowing who you can send that person to who is an excellent match for them, is great for your credibility, or for our own credibility, but in ensuring that they get a good clinical outcome, that’s the best outcome possible for them. That’s so true. Being able to refer out to someone that can actually help them if you can’t. And we were talking earlier about specializing in lymphatic drainage. If you don’t know how to do lymphatic drainage, you can’t fake that. You have to refer that out. Some things you can probably fake a little bit, but lymphatic drainage is definitely one that you can’t fake. You have to refer out if you don’t know what you’re doing. You should be referring out. That’s going to make your clients love you even more because you’re saying to them, “I know my limits.”

**Jackie:** Yes, so I guess the last reason as to why niching is important is that it does give you good reason, good justification, not in taking advantage of a person, someone who is looking for a particular outcome is usually prepared to pay a bit more to get that outcome rather than go to someone, pay less, and be disappointed. You’ve dedicated many hours or many—well, not just hours, but probably years of your career to becoming excellent at something. Just like if you were to see, say, the senior physio of a clinic or you were to go to see someone who only works with hearts in the medical field or you were to get someone who works in property law, for example, in the field of law, they have undertaken very, very specific training to

offer that service, to be excellent at what they do. Yes, there are so many other industries that—I know this is a word that a lot of people have an issue with—but they specialize in specific parts of the body or specific areas of the industry. And we kind of have to do that as well because otherwise, we’re just going to blend into every other massage therapist out there. There’s going to be no reason for anyone to actually choose us besides, “Oh, it’s only down the street. So I’ll give them a try.” Yeah, yeah. Yes, exactly.

**David:** I will jump on that word “specialized,” though. As massage therapists, we are not allowed to call ourselves specialists. It is a protected title. But we can say that we have an interest in something, or you could say—so people would often use the title of say, sports massage therapist, even though it’s not really a title that’s widely recognized, just to distinguish themselves from someone who might undertake a massage for another particular outcome. I was just going to say, it is a little bit of a word that’s hard to work around, and I know you’ve said to me many times, “You can’t use that word, Jackie,” and I’m like, “Ah, but I want to. I want to so much.” But yes, we do have to be careful with our words, as pretty much every massage therapist should because otherwise, people take things the wrong way. Anyway, that’s off-topic.

**Jackie:** When talking niches, the first two, they’re not really niches, even though people think they are. And do you have a—a specialty in what you do? What’s your niche? I do sports massage. I do pregnancy massage. Neither of those two things are a niche. They’re kind of leading towards that. So, for example, if you worked only with swimmers and you understood intimately the movements of a swimmer and the types of injuries that they are likely to get and how to best overcome those injuries to keep that person performing at the top of their game, you have niched into swimming. Swimming is just one sport. Or soccer. You could pick any sport and make that a niche. Absolutely. With niching, you really have to drill down a little bit further, and I know when you’re doing niching when you’ve got a business coach, they will ask you how old is your person, what do they love to do, do they have any kids, what do they drive. You’re just making it up. Like, I don’t know who’s this fake person that I’m talking about. So, it can be quite ambiguous. You can be really confused about the whole thing. But you really do have to drill down a little bit further. It’s not just pregnancy massage. It’s not just sports massage because those are such broad topics, like you said. Yeah, yeah, yeah. There’s a few easy ways to help you find your niche. Of course, it can be more complicated, but there’s three really easy steps to help you find your niche. And the first is to think about why you got into massage in the first place. For example, a friend of mine, she’s got a successful clinic just around the corner from where I am, and her clientele are extraordinarily different to the people that I care for. She knew from the very beginning, right from—it was her reason for going to massage college was that she wanted to provide a high standard of care to women who were pregnant. And she extended that care into providing care for women who have experienced loss during pregnancy.

**Jackie:** Yes, that is such a huge topic when talking about pregnancy. Once you start talking to people, you find out that being pregnant and birthing is not easy for most people. It’s a massive topic, and it takes a very special kind of person to work with women who have experienced loss through pregnancy. That’s definitely a niche that not a lot of people would have even thought about, to be honest. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Um, so the second one that you might not have thought about is, what are you passionate about? What is the type of massage that you really enjoy doing? You might already be an expert in that field. You might have done a lot of study with that already. What is it? Is it pregnancy massage? Is it cupping or a specific style? Yeah, what are you passionate about? There’s a clinic in, uh, so we’re here in South Australia. There’s a clinic in Norway where all they do is cranial therapy, and they are passionate about working with people who’ve experienced trauma and people who live with chronic pain. And that’s all they do. They are just super passionate about that one particular style of bodywork. They’re not all massage therapists. Some of them are physiotherapists, and I think there might be an osteopath in there as

well. But all they do is cranial therapy, and that’s what they’re known for. I love it when people are super passionate about something and say, “This is just what I want to do. I’ve known it from the very beginning.” I feel a little bit jealous. Is it the only thing you talk to people about? Yeah, hopefully it’s not fly fishing. Well, you’re not going to make money doing massage if you only know about fly fishing. Or you could be working with people who’ve got right shoulder injuries from that action of the rotator cuff. Or maybe it’s their partners who are stressed and anxious because all they hear about all the time is fly fishing. Yeah, they need an escape. There you go, take that niche and run with it. I love your—I love your last one, David. What is your last—

**David:** Um, hit us with it. Come on. Yeah, sure. Take a walk down your newsagents’ aisle and look at the magazine covers. Every magazine in a newsagent is a niche, whether it be sporting shooters, computer gamers, yes, gardeners, woodworkers, remote control airplane flyers, triathletes, cyclists. There is a magazine to cover every possible niche. And working with, say, a gamer, you could probably liken their injuries and needs to that of an office worker, but you might adopt your language, and you might be super passionate about meeting other gamers, and they will naturally have something in common with you, and you would instantly know that they are your peeps. So true. There’s a massage therapist in the States who goes by the business name “Geek Girl Massage” and I love her website so much, and all of her marketing is just so geeky. And if I travel to the States, I want to meet her. She sounds so tragically cool. 

**Jackie**:Yes, yes. I think that comes back to what you said before: What’s the reason that you got into massage? Like, you know, was it to help women that have had a loss through pregnancy, or is it to help, you know, truck drivers that sit in a chair for eight hours a day, driving a truck and are hunched over? Who are you? Who are you doing this for? Yeah, absolutely, yeah, yeah. Yeah, that would also choose, help you to choose where about, uh, where you might locate your clinic. Um, that’s very true. Yes, yeah, yes. So, what is your niche? A couple of things as well as doing a fair bit of pregnancy massage. I do, uh, generalize for, um, low to medium-risk pregnancy. Um, and for people that come to me, I don’t really—I don’t really—I don’t really, there’s that word again—specialize in anything there. But I do actually—I have for a long time—worked with people that have headaches and chronic headaches and migraines. Um, and that’s something that’s just occurred naturally because I also get headaches, and I find the neck very interesting, and I love doing scalp massage. And so that has just come about with zero effort. Um, but the other thing that I guess I niche in—I won’t use that “s” word—is, um, is lymphatic drainage. And I am actually trying to increase my knowledge and skills in that area currently. So, um, it’s a long process, but I would actually love to really niche into helping a lot more people with lymphatic drainage. So, yeah. What about you, David? What do you do?

**David:** Kind of accidental because when I went back to requalify in massage, I was really passionate about getting into some field of sport. And I have ended up with a particular interest in jaw injuries and whiplash injuries.

**Jackie:** Oh, that’s very interesting and very specific, too.

**David:** Yes, yeah. And I do mention it on my website, and I do get inquiries, particularly for those things. But more important than inquiries is getting results. That is true. Yes, absolutely. You need to have the results. And this is where the extensive training and education in your topic of interest is going to really be highly beneficial.

**Jackie:** Yeah, I do have a referral network. There are a couple of physios who are very good with neurological disorders, neuro injuries that I refer to, some rehab work. I have a dentist that I refer to as well because there are times when further intervention, rather than just soft tissue work, is completely appropriate. Oh, interesting, yeah. I know it does get talked about a lot about building up a referral network, and again, a lot of massage therapists will roll their eyes at anyone suggesting that we do that. But it can be so beneficial, particularly if you are working with people that have medical conditions or specific medical conditions or that get injuries all the time, like runners or sports people. So yeah, definitely something to think about and a topic for another conversation another day. Definitely, yeah.

**Jackie:** The best outcome, the best possible outcome for me is not the person who is dependent on me but gets to the point of saying, “I don’t need you anymore. This is totally amazing.” Then come back because you like me. But yes, I’m so glad you don’t need me. Yes, yes, absolutely. Um, it’s so great to see them injury-free and moving the way that they should be. Yeah, yeah. So, let’s jump into five possible niches that you probably have never thought about.

**David:** Yes, this is exciting.

**Jackie:** Yeah. And of course, there are more than five niches out there. The number is infinite, definitely. But we’re going to give you five right now, five to think about, hopefully that kicks starts you along your own journey to what you’re passionate about. Yes, definitely. So, kick us off, the number one, Jackie.

**David:** All right. Number one is pre and postsurgical massage and scar massage.

**Jackie:** Yeah, yeah. Which is becoming much more popular over the last few years, much more popular.

**David:** Yeah, there’s quite a few people that—well, I say quite a few. There’s a handful of people that are very well-versed in looking after people that pre and post-surgery. And also, most people would know Christine Knox who does scar massage. She teaches that. And yeah, those things are becoming just so popular now because people want to look after themselves. Yeah, a good surgeon would have a referral team, whether it be for rehab, say after a knee replacement, and for those very extensive surgeries. But there’s a whole bunch of surgeries where there is no follow-up care, and a C-section is one of those.

**Jackie:** Yes, um, whether it be some cosmetic surgery or whether it be some corrective surgery where surgically the procedure is minimal—saying the C-section is minimal because it’s totally not, that’s extensive—and as massage therapists, clients will often talk to us about things that are coming up. And if you have done some surgical or some scar training, you can talk about prehab and rehab and get them some really excellent outcomes. Or maybe that is your opportunity to say, “Hey, I know this person who does pre and post surgical massage. You can go and see them.” And so, you’ve made yourself look like a hero. And you’ve looked after your clients when they really needed someone. You’ve been that person for them, even if it wasn’t you, but you’re sending them off in the right direction, which I just love that. That’s such a great idea, yeah, yeah. And you’re also thinking, well, for pre and post-surgical, you might also be thinking about things like hip replacements, knee replacements. And you don’t have to know a lot, but knowing a little bit more than the person sitting next to you in the room is going to put you in good stead. So good, yeah. Good, yeah, yeah, yeah. What’s our next one, Jackie?

**David:** Yeah, number two, it’s actually an extension of the first one, and that is working with people with joint replacements. And even if they don’t have a surgical procedure, as people age, they become less mobile, less flexible, and then you have the issue of getting onto the floor and getting back up again. And that becomes much more difficult. I’ve had a client who had a double hip replacement.

**Jackie:** Oh, double. So he can’t even push up.

**David:** He couldn’t push up. And that’s what it came down to.

**Jackie:** Oh, my gosh. It was such a journey to work with him.

**David:** It was such a journey to work with him. Yes. Yeah. The goal there was to give him the ability to be able to get up and down off the floor again, which he managed to do.

**Jackie:** That is amazing. That is so awesome. And there is, I’m going to say a rumour—my husband’s nan, she had a hip replacement and she was told by the physio in the hospital that she had to be careful of what she did because otherwise the muscles in her leg, the hip, were going to pull away from the bone because of the joint replacement. Is that true?

**David:** I think there’s some truth to it. The joint replacements these days, the technology has improved a lot. I think in the past, there was more risk of dislocation. I’m not sure about the muscle pulling away from the bone. What I’m more concerned about is the glute med getting weak because if it’s cut during the surgery, then it’s not going to be functioning well.

**Jackie:** And, well, I’m thinking about, like, some Pilates and some gentle—what’s that thing that everyone loves? Is it the reformer? Yes. Is that something that you think that you could do for joint replacement, for that area?

**David:** Certainly, yeah, certainly, and anything that is going to be gentle on the joints, build the strength around those joints, and help with flexibility is going to be beneficial. And you could incorporate that into your massage treatments. It’s not going to be a full-on rehab session, but you can incorporate some gentle stretches, some gentle movements that help to keep those muscles active and engaged. I’m sorry, my brain is spinning off. That’s okay. I’ll go back to the notes. I do think it’s a very interesting niche, working with people who have had joint replacements, and I know that there are some physios out there that do specialize in this area and they are just so interesting to talk to. Um, and again, like you said, there are—you can do gentle movements. You could do some stretches. You could, um, look at building up strength around the area, even if you’re not a—okay, what am I trying to say? I guess you’re not a physio, but you could, with your client’s permission, show them a couple of exercises that they could do at home and give them a recommendation to go see a physio as well. So you’re not doing the rehab, but you are giving them the knowledge that they need. That’s great, yeah, yeah. That is true. Yeah, and then referring on is a good idea. It is, yes. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Okay, I’m happy with that. Yes, number three. Here we go. Um, the third one is working with children and young people who have experienced trauma. Yes, yes. And we should say, if this is a topic that is going to distress you, then probably don’t listen to this part. Skip ahead a little bit. Skip ahead, but if it’s something that you’re okay with, it’s a really important topic. And if you’re interested in working with children and young people who have experienced trauma, then please look it up. Yeah, yeah. And it’s not just children and young people. You could work with adults who have experienced trauma as well. Yes, yes, yes, absolutely. So, Jackie, have you got anything that you want to talk about with that, or shall I— I am going to stay as far away from this topic as possible. You jump in. It’s not really a fun topic, is it? It’s not. It’s not a fun topic. But there are a lot of children and young people who have experienced trauma. They don’t have an outlet. They don’t have a way of dealing with their feelings. And when they’re young, they can’t communicate it properly, and they can’t express their feelings. And when I’m talking about trauma, I’m talking about, you know, kids that have had a really rough upbringing, parents have separated, you know, if they’re from a violent background, it’s so, so important to be able to have a place to talk about that trauma and the trauma-informed care that comes with it, to be able to help them move forward with their lives. And of course, yeah, adults, like you said, as well. There’s so many adults that have also had a very tough upbringing, have gone through some very traumatic experiences, and being able to have a place where they can talk about it and help to heal that part of them and be able to move forward, I just think it’s so important. It is, it is. And for children, it’s even harder because they don’t have the tools to process their emotions and their feelings. And often, that trauma can manifest physically as well. They might have headaches, they might have stomach aches, they might have tension in their body, they might not be sleeping well. And so, as a massage therapist, if you have training in trauma-informed care, if you have training in working with children and young people, you can provide a safe space for them to start healing. It’s not about necessarily doing deep tissue work. It’s not about fixing the physical symptoms. It’s about providing that safe space for them to start healing and start processing their emotions. And that’s a really powerful thing to be able to do. Yeah, absolutely, yeah. So, um, David, what is our fourth niche?

**David:** Our fourth niche is working with people with neurological conditions.

**Jackie:** Yes, and this is something that I have to say I have always been extremely interested in. It’s just one of those things that I didn’t even know that you could specialize in that, but you definitely can. Yeah, definitely. Yeah,

there’s so many neurological conditions out there, and I think people often think about physiotherapists or occupational therapists when they think about neurological conditions, but massage can play a really important role as well. Absolutely, yeah. And again, you’re not—so, if you do a course in working with people with neurological conditions, you’re not doing a course to become a physiotherapist. You’re doing a course to learn the basics of how to look after someone with a neurological condition. And that, again, could be someone that’s experienced a stroke. It could be someone that has, uh, motor neuron disease. It could be any number of things. And again, I think people often look at massage therapists as the people who are going to fix their problems, and we’re definitely not. We’re not physiotherapists, and we don’t want to be. But there are times when we can be a really beneficial part of a client’s health journey, so I love that. I love that there is that option there, too.

**David:** And I think a lot of it comes down to the power of touch, and even just providing some comfort, some relaxation, reducing stress and anxiety can have such a positive impact on people with neurological conditions because, often, these conditions come with a lot of stress and anxiety. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, absolutely, yeah. So, um, what’s our last niche that we have, David?

**David:** Number five, working with athletes and performers who are looking for that extra edge in their training and performance. Ah, yes, I love this one. Yes, this is exciting. This is a good one. It is exciting. I think you have to be careful with this one because you don’t want to make false promises, but I think, again, as massage therapists, we can play a role in helping athletes and performers optimize their training and their performance. Absolutely. Yeah, yeah, yeah. So, um, Jackie, have you got anything you want to add about that? I am very, very excited to be able to talk about this topic. I could not have done it without you, David. Um, athletes, performers, those that want to excel in their chosen sport or career are always looking for a way to enhance their performance, to help with injury prevention and recovery. And as a massage therapist, we can help them achieve those goals. There are so many ways that we can use our skills to help athletes and performers. And if you are looking for more training in this area, there are plenty of courses out there that can help you specialize in working with athletes and performers. Absolutely. And I think the key thing here is that you’re not turning them into an elite athlete just through massage. You’re not saying, “You’re going to win the Olympics because you’ve had a massage.” It’s not about that. It’s about giving them the support that they need to reach their potential, whatever that potential may be. Absolutely. Yeah, yeah, yeah. So, there we have it. There are five possible niches that you might not have thought about. There are so many niches out there. We’ve given you just a small taste of them. We’ve given you the tip of the iceberg. There are so many more, so many more. So, we would love to hear from you. What niche are you working in, or what niche are you thinking of working in? Or are you working in multiple niches? We’d love to hear from you. So, you can get in touch with us. You can join the conversation over on our Facebook group. You can find us over at the podcast website, which is www.thebusinessofmassage.com. You can leave a comment on the show notes for this episode, or you can jump into the conversation on Facebook or Instagram. We would love to hear from you. We would love to hear what you’re thinking. We would love to hear what niche you’re in or what niche you’re thinking of working in. Absolutely, yeah. So, let’s get this conversation started. Let’s keep this conversation going. And, yeah, until next time, we’ll see you then. Bye for now. Bye, everyone.

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