I often wonder how artists and writers and filmmakers and influencers and all-around creative folk become successful online. Not in that they have a lot of followers on Instagram or notoriety elsewhere. I wonder how they are able to hone in and focus on one concept or set of ideas for long enough to accumulate a massive audience. Consistency has been a struggle for my entire adult life. The introduction of healthy productivity habits and lifestyle changes has helped … but not entirely. A reoccurring conundrum is me sitting down and planning a project with great enthusiasm just to poo-poo my effort three days in. Success driven by consistency is a sure-fire way to make it big online, but the niche subject matter is just as important. Let’s start at step one: What type of content should I create?
Anyone can have a successful online presence, and any niche can thrive no matter how absurd or seemingly uninteresting. From what I’ve gathered during my 15+ years on the internet is even a written blog about the rate of drying paint can rake in thousands of unique and engaging people. As for those more obscure niches like rock collecting, the turn around rate for viewership will be slower in the beginning but the pay off is great in the long run. In fact, the more obscure the better.
Specialization matters. Let’s say you want to write a lifestyle blog. These are tricky. I follow plenty of advice blogs that have diverse content from “health and wellness” to “money management.” They work but that doesn’t make variety blogging the best option, especially in 2019/2020. Finding content to write about is a breeze when the door is wide open to endless topics, but the daunting idea of serving and pleasing everyone isn’t worth the freedom - from a business perspective of course.
5 Tips For Discovering Your True Niche
Work in your wheel house: I’m guilty of choosing “the best business opportunities” over my true interests and ability - I think everyone is. I have a hard time really understanding what I’m good at, which leads me to ask others this question instead of myself - a self-confidence struggle I’m certain I’m not experiencing alone.
Slow down: Your ideas are not unique or ground-breaking. This sounds a bit harsh but we tend to think our personal hobbies or interests are too odd or uninteresting to work as online content. Or, on the flip side, we can over-exaggerate the brilliance and uniqueness of our million dollar ideas. Chances are millions of others have thought of your idea first and are actively working to make your idea a success. This doesn’t mean run out and beat them to it. Rather, look at it this way: strive to fill in the gaps of your chosen industry that others are leaving wide open. Take your time and let the competition make mistakes. You’re in this for the long run. There is an audience for everyone: it’s a common mantra, but remember that online audience is only stable and willing to grow for a genuine creator.
Chart-making to pin point strengths: I’ll be going into more complex chart-making methods in later posts, but for this first step into finding a core interest, it’s fairly simple. Create a three-column table on excel or with paper and pen. The columns will read “Hobbies,” “Free-Time” and “Dreams.” Under the Hobbies column, list hobbies that give you pleasure, and more importantly, activities you have experience with or base knowledge of ie. short to longterm projects. Under the Free-Time column, list activities you go to for a quick-fix away from productivity but still give you pleasure ie. Netflix, YouTube watching, reading, doodling, checking social media. And under the last Dreams column, list what you ultimately want to achieve and projects you want to begin that require at least a moderate amount of growth and/or practice or financial aid to accomplish ie. writing a book, signing a record deal, opening a non-profit etc. These three elements compile all your positive personal aspects whether they're healthy habits or not, and so, seeing everything that makes you YOU on paper can brew a hybrid of two or three activities into a unique niche for your online content. Here’s an example of mine:
|Research Process for Writing||Watch the News||Write a Book||Illustrating on iPad||Make Spotify Playlists||Launch Eddy Ink (Clothing)|
|Web Design and Organization||Shop for Stationary||Make Productivity App|
|Photography||Scour Socials for Creative Inspo||Sell Photography Zine|
|Journaling and Planning||Listen to Productivity Podcasts||Travel with Online Income|
Distraction-free pondering: Now let’s be actively introspective. Up until now it’s been all talk and no action, or all dreaming and no achieving. Set down all distractions whether they be electronic or otherwise and start planning the trial period for your business idea. It’s very important to not let outside forces influence this process. Keep it true to you, then start researching.
Trial period: I’m going to use blogging as an example, but this goes for any online content endeavor. Create your backlog of content (3-5 thorough articles). If you’re on YouTube or doing any video content on Instagram etc., this looks a bit different. For static content ie. photography, blogging, social media projects, e-commerce - a handful of posts should be setup in advance. Not every post will be “postable,” but it is nice to know what direction your writing style or editing techniques are going to be in advance in order to keep up some level of consistency. This is also a good time to determine if the chosen niche is fulfilling. Look, the first few weeks aren’t going to look good for audience numbers anyway, make this first bit of content only for you. If nothing else, later it can be used as a thematic blueprint. (By the way, you can totally publicly release this content right away. The term Trial Period for me indicates the first month of content that’s seen by very few people - a time that I focus on the substance rather than the marketing. I tend to delete these first 3-5 articles later when my niche has been buffed around the edges.)
Off to the races: On to step 2 … the grudge. This period is the toughest. You’ve found your niche. You have your plan. You have your style. You made your logo. You know at least a general direction for your online content. Now start creating and STAY CONSISTENT. Post every Tuesday or every Weekend or every Monday and Friday. Pick a day or days to post and keep up with it! Why is this period called the grudge? Simple, all of your hard work will go unread or unwatched or under appreciated. Don’t worry though, after several months to a year, if you actively build your audience with a unique and genuine approach … your audience will come!