As I was writing a different blog, trying to find inspiration…I found it! I’d been listening to an archived podcast of The Creative Penn (one of the three podcasts I subscribe to, including Writing Excuses and I Should Be Writing) and decided to follow a successful writing blogger’s advice—create your niche. So, I opened my blog and asked myself, “What does it mean to create your niche?”, immediately followed by, “One more thing I wish I’d known when I started… That should be your niche!”
Thus, the birth of What I Wish I’d Known. (Coming soon!)
It’s a thought that rings true for anyone who has ever made a bad decision or who worked too hard at something that seemed simple in the end. Like getting caught picking a plum from the neighbor’s tree. Had I known he was home, I would have waited 😛
A niche is a type of specialty. In academia, we refine our niche as we progress through the grades: bachelor of philosophy, master of ethics, doctorate of the evolution of Epicurean ethics in America post 9/11. A good niche for blogging sits somewhere in the middle. The reason a niche is important is due to the demand for reliable information, the amount of time in a day, and a simple cost/benefit analysis. The reason doctors are sought after for their opinions rather than an undergraduate student is because they are experts in their field. They have spent an incredible amount of time, studying their field. When it comes to acquiring the most accurate and reliable amount of information in the shortest amount of time, go ask a doctor.
Much like pursuing a Ph.D., your niche will work best if it’s something you find fascinating and that you enjoy talking and learning about. It doesn’t even need to be about writing, it just needs to get people to your site. Sure, it might seem odd that an urban crime author has a robust gardening blog, but some gardeners definitely read urban crime stories or listen to them as they tend to their crop; some might even buy some books to see how much gardening the author uses. The quality of what you post (reliable information that is fun and interesting to read) along with the quantity (how often are your posts and how reliable is your schedule?) will naturally draw. The more information you have (i.e., the number of blog posts), the more likely your page will show up on someone’s google search; the more enjoyable and informative you are on your page, the more likely visitors will share your posts and page, which ultimately leads to more sales. Ensuring that you post content that you find fascinating will ensure that you come off as genuine rather than a swindler. It also helps to keep you interested in maintaining your page.
When people seek services, whether it’s for editing, art, or construction, they generally seek the experienced professional over the college graduate. Don’t worry about creating a unique niche. Romeo and Juliet is one of the most retold stories with some of the most reused tropes. But each retelling has something unique about it, whether it was the time period of the setting, dragons and magic, or spaceships and lasers each new rendition of the story had something that set it apart. Likewise, with your niche, don’t worry about creating something no one else has done; create something other people have done but add your own flare. I enjoy philosophy, especially ethics and the mind; I enjoy trying to understand the human condition in order to help myself and others to live happier lives. Hence, a website dedicated to helping new writers to better understand those aspects of the industry that I wish I had known when I started writing my first book…with a philosophical flare.
Once you discover your niche, it can take years to build your portfolio and establish yourself. Don’t give up. Everyone has to start somewhere and most start at zero. Not all who persevere succeed, but all who succeed persevered.