If you’re a dietitian who’s thinking about starting a business, you’ve probably heard all about the importance of niching down.
How many times have you heard the sayings “The riches are in the niches”, or “When you speak to everyone, you speak to no one”? (Probably one million.)
But… what if you don’t know your niche?
What are you supposed to do?
First, take a deep breath. You’re in the right spot. Keep reading.
In this article, I’ll walk you through four clear steps to finding your niche as a dietitian so that you can confidently build a business that you feel totally aligned with and that genuinely serves a useful purpose in the world.
Prefer to listen? Check out the audio version of this post:
What we cover:
What to do when you don’t know your niche
If I’m being quite honest, I think finding your niche is often one of the hardest parts of entrepreneurship.
Sometimes you have the inherent drive to start a business and you feel like you’re meant to be an entrepreneur, but you don’t know exactly what business you want to start.
Who are you going to help? How are you going to help them? What problems, specifically, are you going to solve for people? And via what methods?
These are really big questions, and it’s totally normal to not be certain about any of them when you’re just starting out.
The goal is to find work that you love, that you’re naturally good at, and that solves a problem for someone. That’s the sweet spot.
That’s how you’re going to wake up every day feeling joyful, peaceful, and excited to show up for your people.
- If you don’t love it, you’re not going to wake up feeling joyful and excited.
- If you’re not naturally good at it, then you’ll feel a sense of resistance, instead of ease, while you work.
- If you’re not actually solving someone’s problems, then you’re going to struggle to get customers.
So you really need all three of those pieces: work that you love, work that you’re naturally good at, and something that solves someone’s problems.
Understanding what it means to niche down
Before I share the four steps to finding your niche, I want to clarify exactly what I mean by niching down.
Choosing your niche means picking the area you want to specialize in AND the way you’re going to help people.
Once you have these two pieces nailed down, your path to entrepreneurship will become much clearer.
The answers to these questions are going to be different for every person, so you need to think about what feels good to you on the inside and roll with that.
Four steps to finding your niche as a nutritionist
Four steps. Sounds easy, right? And on the surface, it is.
But I want to remind you that finding your niche is a journey. There is no instant shortcut. You have to do the work and implement each of these steps, and then the clarity will come.
Let’s do a quick summary of the steps before diving deeper into each.
- Self-Assess: Figure out what you enjoy and what you’re good at.
- Brainstorm: Find subjects you’re interested in and the ways you like to help people.
- Network: Because you can’t really do it alone.
- Take Action: Get real-life feedback on your ideas to find out what might work.
Step 1: Self-Assess
First up is the introspective work. Digging deep and asking yourself questions that will help you get clarity on the type of things you enjoy and are naturally good at.
Ask yourself the following nine questions:
- How would you spend your day if you could do anything?
- What kind of career might fit your desired lifestyle?
- What did you enjoy as a child?
- What do people tell you you’re good at?
- What do people ask you for help with?
- What makes you feel in the flow?
- What makes you feel totally drained?
- What type of work do you dread?
- What are you not inherently good at?
Once you have a clear vision of your ideal work day, you can work backward to find the type of career that can provide that lifestyle for you.
There’s an infinite number of scenarios that you might be able to dream up. So get honest with yourself. Don’t get sucked into what other people are doing. Give yourself the space to really imagine and notice what feels good to you, and go with that.
Survey your friends and family for your top 3 qualities
Next, we need to get out of our own heads and figure out what other people think we’re great at.
This can be a goldmine of information.
Sometimes we can’t see our best qualities because we just assume that if we’re good at something or it comes naturally to us, everyone else is the same.
But that is definitely not the case! Chances are, your friends and family will be able to quickly tell you what you’re really good at, even if you can’t pick up on those things yourself.
So your action step is to ask 25 people what they think your top three qualities are.
You could ask on social media, email friends, or even send out an anonymous survey, But keep it simple. Just straight up ask people, “What are my top three qualities?”
And I know that might sound weird. Like, what? I’m just going to email people and ask them for a compliment?
But if you’re just transparent about why you’re doing this (to help you hone your business ideas) it’s really not as awkward as it sounds.
And a lot of times, people are excited to tell you what they think you’re really great at!
Take a personality test
Personality tests can also give great insights into what type of business might be best for you.
Some popular options include:
- Myers-Briggs (I’m an INTJ, “The Mastermind”)
- Enneagram (I’m a 3, “The Achiever”)
- DISC (I’m a C – Clarity)
Fun fact: I surveyed the members of The Unconventional RD Facebook group and found that the most common Myers-Briggs type for unconventional dietitians is INFJ (The Counselor) and the most common enneagram is 3, The Achiever, followed closely behind by type 9, The Peacemaker.
Interestingly, INFJ is one of the rarest personality types (just 2.3% of the population) but that personality type is particularly drawn to careers in healthcare, education, and counseling.
Enneagram 3s only make up about 11% of the general population, but are the majority inside The Unconventional RD group (which I guess makes sense, since it’s a group of professionals looking for out-of-the-box career ideas). Enneagram 3s especially excel at entrepreneurship.
I highly recommend taking any of those personality tests yourself if you’re looking for some fun kind of playful insights into how your personality might play into your future niche.
Write these answers down!
I definitely recommend writing your answers down to help you find any patterns that might emerge.
Sometimes we don’t make time to sit down and think about these things and life just starts to pass us by. And if you don’t have clarity on where you’re trying to go, it’s going be really hard to get there.
So, it’s important to take a moment and sit down and answer these questions so you have clarity on what you want your lifestyle and your career to look like.
Then, when opportunities come up, you can ask yourself, “Does this opportunity align with my business goals and life vision?” That will give you clarity on whether or not to accept certain projects or pursue certain ideas.
Step 2: Brainstorm
The next step is brainstorming. This is where we brainstorm subject areas we enjoy and methods of helping people that we enjoy.
Based on the answers you collected during your self-assessment, you probably have an idea of the type of work that you might enjoy. But now we need to apply that specifically to the field of nutrition and dietetics.
First, what nutrition subjects are you interested in?
There are an endless number of options here, but here are some creative ways you can think about helping people:
By health condition: Do you have experience or interest in a particular medical condition that benefits from medical nutrition therapy?
By special diet: Do you enjoy helping people implement a specific type of diet? (Low-FODMAP, gluten-free, etc.)
By perspective: Do you feel passionate about a specific framework within dietetics? (Health at Every Size, functional nutrition, sustainability, diversity and inclusion, equitable access, etc.)
By age group: Do you love working with a particular age group? (Toddlers, post-menopausal women, older adults, etc.)
By interest: Do you enjoy working with groups of people interested in a specific topic? (Sports nutrition, cooking, test prep, genomics, etc.)
The limit is really only your imagination!
Next, how will you help people?
Once you have an area you want to specialize in, you need to decide how you will help people.
Some popular ways include:
- 1:1 Work: Virtual or in-person private practice (solopreneur or group practice)
- Group Work: Time-limited group programs, often online.
- In-Person Events: Conferences, masterminds, classes.
- Paid Education: Online courses, seminars, symposiums, or certifications.
- Free Content: Blog, podcast, YouTube, or social media content, monetized via ads, sponsorships, and affiliate links.
- Subscriptions: Paid newsletters, support groups, membership sites.
- Digital Goods: E-books, workbooks, or other low-ticket downloadable resources.
- Physical Goods: Cookbooks, books, merchandise.
- Consulting: For food companies or other businesses.
- Done for You Work: Agency services, like copywriting, SEO, marketing, etc.
You can definitely help people in more than one way, but it is almost always best to pick ONE avenue to focus on first before expanding.
Step 3: Build a network
Next, I want you to build a network. Find people who are doing exactly what you think you want to do.
If you see people out there doing what you want to do, that’s GREAT! It means that your idea has legs.
If someone is doing what you want to do and they’re making money at it, you can likely do that same thing and make money at it, too.
Connect as a peer
So rather than viewing others in your space as competition, view them as peers and possible mentors. People that you can connect with and learn from.
And when you’re connecting, I think it’s best to approach people as a friend, rather than approaching with an immediate ask.
For example, don’t message someone asking to “pick their brain.” Instead, tell them how much you enjoy their work or provide something of value to them.
That’s a great way to get noticed and for people to remember your face and name. And who knows where that might lead in the future.
Engage with them online
A great way to connect with peers in your space is to engage with them online.
Follow people on social media, join their email list, participate in their Facebook groups, comment on their social media posts and website, and share their work online. Be an active participant in their sphere.
As someone who runs a large community, I’ll tell you, I remember the people who comment, share, and post.
So for all you lurkers out there, push yourself to engage and participate enough so that people start to recognize your name and your face.
Simply being active in someone’s community can give you a leg up when you do get the chance to connect with them further.
Send people nice messages
When was the last time you reached out to someone you follow to let them know you appreciate their work?
Set aside time to send someone you admire a quick thank you or give them a compliment on something that they’re working on.
And don’t discriminate. Reach out to people who are both ahead of and behind you in their entrepreneurship journey.
Everyone loves to be recognized. And you never know, your message may be the thing that keeps that person going when the going gets tough.
The importance of relationship building
We want to connect with others in our space because relationships matter.
You’re not trying to build relationships with the intention of getting something out of it. But rather, because having genuine relationships is a cornerstone for authentic community and growth.
For example, if you want to put together a virtual event in your niche, the more people you’re already naturally connected with, the easier it will be for you to find things like speakers and affiliates.
And on the flip side, if one of your peers is putting together an event or thinking of an opportunity, you will already be on their mind as someone to reach out to.
People won’t think to refer to you or include you in something if you’re not connected with them.
The best dietitian Facebook groups for networking
If you’re looking for a place to organically connect with other food and wellness professionals in your niche, I highly recommend joining Facebook groups.
Here are my favorite food and nutrition networking groups:
- The Unconventional RD Community
- Dietitians on the Blog
- Food Bloggers Central
- RDs Who Write
- Women’s Health Nutrition Practice Group
- Integrative Functional Dietitian Nutritionist Practice Building with Lesli Bitel.
- Functional Nutrition Forum
- Registered Dietitians and Future RDs
- Media Mastery for Dietitians & Health Professionals
- Dietitians in Private Practice
- Weight Inclusive Nutrition & Dietetics
- Insurance Credentialing & Billing for Dietitian Nutritionists
If there is a niche, I bet there’s a Facebook group for it. And if not, create it yourself!
PS – If you’re thinking about starting your own Facebook group, definitely check out my tips for running an engaged and profitable Facebook group.
Before we move on, I want you to dig a little deeper into the businesses of the people you admire.
Make a list of five people who are doing what you want to do and then answer the following questions:
- What do you admire about their brand and why?
- Which platform(s) are they really doing well on? Why do you think that is?
- What types of services are they offering?
- What are they charging?
- How are they marketing (and selling) their products or services?
- How long have they been in business?
- Can you find podcast interviews where they share how they got to where they are today?
- How can you connect with them?
Use the answers to these questions as inspiration. DO NOT copy someone else in your niche. But DO get curious about how other people are running successful businesses.
Step 4: Take action
Until this point, everything we have talked about has just been theory.
But ACTION is what will bring you true clarity on your niche.
You are ready right now.
For all you perfectionists out there, I am speaking to you right now. Stop waiting. You are ready right now. Whether you feel ready or not, you’re ready right now.
- It’s okay to try something and be bad at it.
- It’s okay to try something that you thought you love and actually hate it.
- It’s okay to be super passionate about something only to change your mind later.
What you try today is not what you’re going to do forever.
You will grow and change. Your business will grow and change, and that’s normal. So do not let the fear of permanence or uncertainty hold you back.
Jump in and try something. That is how you’ll learn. It’s going to be scary, but you have to do it anyway.
Just remember that nothing is permanent, so do not let analysis paralysis hold you back.
Pay attention to how you feel while doing things
While you’re out there taking action, listen to your body and mind to see how they’re responding.
What types of work feel fun and light? What do you look forward to in your day? What could you start doing and all of a sudden five hours have gone by?
In contrast, what type of activities give you a pit in your stomach? What frustrates you? What feels out of alignment with your beliefs or your personality?
What topics get you excited to talk about on and on and on? Or what makes you hesitant to talk about it cause you’re not really passionate about it or are even embarrassed by it?
What clients or customers have you worked with that you seem to get the best results for? I guarantee there will be patterns that emerge if you work with enough people.
But really, it’s all about doing and reflecting. Because without doing, you’re really just guessing on all of this stuff, and you’ll never get any closer to figuring it out.
Working in the margins
And for those of you out there who are like, ugh, I have a 9 to 5. When am I supposed to be taking all this action?
Guess what? You have the privilege of working in the margins.
I know, it may not feel ideal, but try to reframe the situation if you can.
Sometimes it’s even preferable to start your business while you have a 9 to 5. Having stable income can remove some of the pressure to figure it all out ASAP.
There’s really nothing worse than trying to sell from a place of desperation. People can smell that a mile away. And that’s just going to add to your frustration.
You don’t want to add the feeling of being completely broke on top of the desire to find your niche. That’s not a good combo.
So, learn to work in the margins of your life. You’ve got the mornings. You’ve got your lunch breaks. You’ve got evenings, and you’ve got weekends. And it’s really those small steps, each day, that will lead to huge results over time.
So today, I want you to make a list of three niches that you might be interested in and then start researching them.
- What is required to become an expert in this area?
- What’s the time and financial cost?
- Who are the mentors available in that space, the support available, et cetera?
- And then what small step can you do today to get started?
Once you’ve chosen the one you’re most interested in, just jump in. Seriously.
Erica Julson is a registered dietitian turned digital marketing pro. She has over 12 years of experience blogging and building online businesses and has taught over 900 wellness professionals inside her signature program, SEO Made Simple.