What’s Your Niche?
In the world of book marketing, and marketing in general, this question keeps coming up.
I get it. I understand how talking to a small group of interested people is better than talking to a large group of uninterested people. My tagline for a while now has been that I am passionate about raising our collective human consciousness. It’s vague and all-encompassing. It’s difficult to narrow my focus because I want to inspire everyone to grow. But most likely my words will connect with those who are actually seeking growth. Okay, that narrows it down a bit. People seeking growth.
But what kind of growth? How do I pick a subject? There isn’t a singular topic I can write about. Writing, editing, cooking, parenting, sports, travel, politics, religion, sexuality, environment — it’s all interesting to me, and I don’t want to limit myself to a niche topic. I want to write about a variety of life experiences whether they play out during a camping trip in Australia’s outback or in a local grocery store lineup. I want to write about my human experience. I want to inspire readers — through my writing — to think about their own life and choices.
I sat quiet for a few weeks in July trying to sort out my path forward and here’s what came up. First my husband and fellow author, Mark Cameron, wrote out a list of our priorities, our passions, our tasks, and stuff that was weighing on us. Then with a great big SHEILA’S MID-LIFE ?? in the center of a page, I carried it on from there as I asked myself what my passion is, my purpose, my why. Why am I here?
I was open to impulse, and impulse said that I need to help people feel heard. So I imagined arranging a life around helping people be heard. I can be an active listener. I can edit people’s stories so that their writing connects with a greater audience. I can share my own stories about listening and being heard. I can promote Toastmasters so that more people learn how to listen and more people feel heard. I can use my speaking skills to teach listening skills. Those are all worthy things. But, is helping people feel heard really my niche? I don’t think so.
A Serial Niche-ist
If I claim a niche, I feel like I might be pigeonholed into doing that forever, like once I know my purpose, that’s all there is. And that doesn’t feel right. The flexibility of having permission to change focus when the universe puts a new challenge in front of me is much more appealing. I suspect that I may become a serial niche-ist. I know a woman who lives like this—diving deep into each passion she focuses on. When I first met Annette Clarke, she was into frogs. Then she moved to chickens, building a house, growing a vegetable garden, renting a cottage, and then to growing exotic fruit trees. She lets her passion guide her deep into a subject at any given time, studying, learning and then sharing her knowledge.
My New Plan
With good insight into what will work best for our whole family — based on creating a balance of wants and needs, dropping extra stuff, and making sure everyone is bathed and fed, I worked out a life plan for myself. It’s not perfect. It could fall apart at any moment. But this is the intention I have set for the rest of the year, and I am already feeling the benefits of it.
Create and enjoy experiences: Make plans — social plans, travel plans, educational plans, creative plans.
Trust the universe: While enjoying experiences, see what comes up. Be open to signs and messages and learning along the way.
Take action: Don’t just sit there. Do something with the information received. Take steps toward personal growth or service to others.
Share my process: Write about it — in blogs, books, magazines. Speak about it when opportunities arise.
I’m going with a generalist attitude to life experiences and a focused attitude on sharing those experiences with readers.
I really appreciate all of you who subscribed to my blog for news about my first book release. My next book is a memoir to be published in 2018. Until then, I’d love to engage with readers who are seeking continual growth.
How about you? Do you have a niche? Or are you a serial niche-ist like me? What’s your plan for the rest of this year? Are you open to what life presents you?
If I have 20 children. Which is my favourite? That’s the issue of niche – I love them all and also all the nieces, nephews, cousins and aunts. We’re told to “master” something. Be a master instead of a Jack of all Trades. I’ve observed that unless you discover something that you really, really want to focus on for a long term (passionate artist), mastery becomes monotonous. Jack has all the fun and experiences multiple facets in life.
On a monetizing basis however, Jack works for dried bones while the Master generally gets the whole turkey, gravy and stuffing. Do we have to choose? Is there an example of a generalist who really succeeded?
Have you ever read Irma Bombeck? Her observations on life might be somewhat akin to your own. She was tremendously successful as an author, personality, tv hostess by talking and writing about everyday things in a humorous way. Perhaps she could provide a model for your own writing. Lots of scope with a fun twist.
William (Jack of all trades)
William (Jack), My parents had one famous funny Erma Bombeck book (If Life is a Bowl of Cherries …) when I was a kid, but I don’t recall if I read it or not. Her model does sound successful though, and laughter might be a better goal than money anyway. I’m with you on keeping life fun and interesting through multiple experiences. Thanks for sharing your thoughts here!
I definitely feel like I am and have always been a serial niche-ist. I love that you articulated this because yeah, finding your life purpose can be scary as hell put into the context of “so this is what you’re going to do for the rest of your life.” AHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!
*runs away and finds cave*
I’ve noticed a pattern that I tend to dive into things very deeply for 5-7 years and when I feel I have a level of knowledge and mastery, I move on.
Right now I am helping kids determine their passions and think about what’s important to them and then helping them articulate it with as much clarity and purpose as possible.
But I still want to pursue writing my memoir and comedy also! Knowing that if I dilute myself too much, nothing will be done well, I’ve focused on public speaking for kids until the business makes enough money that I can pay people to do the things in the business that I’d rather not so I can move on to my next endeavour.
Ah yes, Paula … you are so right that quality goes down if we try to do too much. Sounds like a great pattern to go deep and master something before moving on to another goal. Especially as I age, I am finding multi-tasking more difficult. I prefer focus and immersion. I am excited about immersing myself in writing for the next year … with permission to write about anything! Good luck with continued growth of your business!