The Michelle Gifford Podcast Episode 69:
The Power of Choosing a Niche with Cake By Courtney
Today I’m talking to one of my favorite business people, friend and client, Cake by Courtney. We are talking about the power of choosing a niche for your blog, business, and social media accounts. But before we get to that, can we talk about how cool would it be to always be introduced with the word ‘Cake’ in front of your name? I’m slightly jealous that I don’t have a cool business name like that!
A little background about Courtney, in her own words. Cake By Courtney started as a cake blog about 5 years ago where I shared my recipes. I’m self taught just for fun. My background is media and television research. For 13 years I moderated focus groups and traveled the country talking about media, branding, marketing, all of those things. It was so fun and I loved it.
My cake journey overlapped with the time I was working. I wanted my son to have a homemade birthday cake for his first birthday, and I remember getting in the kitchen with a recipe from Bon Appétit magazine and just going for it. I had never tried or attempted it before. It wasn’t the prettiest but it tasted amazing. And I kept thinking, I want to do that again. And I did. I kept baking. And I loved learning how to bake better and learning new techniques. I needed to fill my cup in a way that I didn’t even recognize.
What Courtney Believes
Courtney believes there is always room for more quality content online. Looking at what other cake and baking bloggers were doing, made Courtney think, “If I can create content that is desirable and it’s good content, I can create a name for myself. And I can create a place for myself in this crowded marketplace of baking blogs.” This is the power that choosing a niche can give to you and your business.
So, 5 years ago she started her blog, one year later she was invited to start teaching in person classes at Orson Gygi in Utah where she lives. Then, in 2019 she launched her product line of cake tools and started a cake subscription service for a year. (The subscription service is now on hold.) She also launched an online cake course in 2019 and she is about to launch a second installment to the course in May.
Courtney belies that online influencers and business owners should be doing twice as many things for their audience than they are getting from them. She wants to create a whole new group of home bakers that love baking and learning new things. She is constantly asking herself, “What value can I add?”
There are a few things that I can see that could be called Courtney’s secret sauce to her success:
- When Courtney dedicates herself to something she is all in. Completely all in. Whether that’s running a half marathon or planning out content, she is committed.
- Every single post is about her audience. It’s always about how she can serve.
What Courtney Learned from Oprah About Choosing a Niche
Courtney related an experience she had last year when she was able to listen to Oprah speak at a convention. She says,
I was featured in Oprah’s magazine for my cake boxes last year. I didn’t meet her then, but I did hear her speak at a tech summit for my husband’s company. During her speech she talked about when she had her talk show in the late 80’s.
If you remember, the beginning of her talk show was kind of salacious. It was similar to Maury or other talk shows with lots of drama. She recalled 2 moments in this season she was taping that left her feeling really dark and disappointed in where her show had gone. One of the episodes was with the KKK. It was not a warm and fuzzy type of episode. You could still hear the sadness in her voice as she talked about this 30 years later. And there was another episode where the husband cheated on his wife and she had the new girlfriend and the husband and wife on the show at the same time. And she said she remembered thinking, what am I doing?
She looked at her team after these episodes and said we are not doing this anymore. We have the opportunity and the platform to share light and positivity. And we aren’t doing that. From that point on, every decision or story they made and produced, they would ask, what is my intention? The answer had to be adding value to people’s lives in a good, positive way. I totally cried in the audience when I heard her say that. This is what the world needs. Our intention needs to be to bring light and goodness.
To me, this story shows who Courtney is, and how she works. She is someone who is always trying to bring light and joy to her audience. I admire that so much about her!
How Courtney Has Turned Cake Baking Into A Career
While I had her, I had to ask Courtney what everyone wants to know, how has she made any money throughout this business she’s built? She shared that in the beginning of her cake baking days she made cakes for people and made a little money that way. It wasn’t something that was fun, though, so she didn’t do it for very long. Soon after starting her social media account and blog, she earned money from sponsored posts and promoting products. After she decided she didn’t like being an Instagram Influencer, she started teaching classes at Orson Gygi.
Nowadays she has a product line that is growing steadily (sold online and at the Orson Gygi store in Utah), and her online cake class. She also credits her website with helping her to earn money. Having a website that generates money and value from clicks and visits helps a lot, she says. Plus, having a website and systems that allow her to sell online has made a huge difference!
More than One Path to Success
I think this is a good thing to show that there is more than one path for making money. And that there is so much power in choosing a niche. Many times people come to me, Michelle, and ask how to make money with their blog or their business. And they’re looking for one path, one way to do it. And there is more than one path! Courtney says, “You have to find your own place. You have to find your own lane. And sometimes, you need to just try things.”
She believes it’s ok to explore and try a couple different avenues and see what works best for your company, your brand, your avenue. She doesn’t regret any of the things she’s done in the past. They’ve helped her to see what works for her and her brand. And they’ve helped her realize how choosing a niche can be helpful in growing her business.
My Last Questions for Courtney
I had a few more questions for Courtney, “What would you tell someone who is ready to take their business to the next level? Someone who is on the edge of jumping in with both feet? How would you push them over the edge?”
It helps to have someone else give you a push. But at the end of the day you need to invest in yourself. If you believe in what you’re doing and you are so passionate about what you are doing that it doesn’t stress you out. Write down your goals and think about what your goals are for you, your business, and your life. You will return to those goals often and remind yourself why you are doing what you are doing. No one can take away your passion. It’s yours– you own it, you grow it, you keep it.
I think you have to go all in. You have to say, “I’m going to spend the extra hours”, and carve out the time in your day. And depending on what is going on in your life maybe you only have 10 minutes here and 10 min there throughout the day. But that’s 20 minutes more that you’re giving your dream that you didn’t the day before. And you’ll start to carve out that time. If it’s really important to you you’ll carve out that time to work on your dreams.
My Takeaways from this Interview
Courtney is one of my favorite business women ever. It’s true. I think it’s important to remember that her business didn’t just happen. It was because of dedication and also giving up some things in her life that weren’t serving her. It’s a sacrifice, but it’s also one of the best blessings to grow a business and to serve people. I know I’ve learned so much from all of the sacrifices I’ve made to grow my businesses over the years.
I loved talking with Cake By Courtney about how powerful choosing a niche is when it comes to growing your business. She exemplifies this concept so well, plus she’s really fun to talk to and I just adore her. I hope you listen to the full episode. Let me know in the comments what stood out to you!
Are you ready to take your business to the next level? Join Michelle’s Money Makers to get group coaching with me, Michelle Gifford, and learn how to grow your business the right way! Use code michelle10 for $10 off!