I’ve been flirting with the idea of building a business around web content for ages. As well as employing my writing skills in the service of others, I’ve also been attracted to the idea of making a web log based business for a while. I’ve downloaded the odd strategy guide, done the odd course.
But there’s one thing that’s eluded me, one thing that stops me developing my blogs as a business until I nail it down:
What’s my niche?
It’s not as easy as it sounds. Sure, I’m a geek. I love sleek futures and cool machines, but not enough to write a whole blog about them. I love writing, but that’s a bit too broad. I love board games, but I’m not sure how I can bring something new to the table there.
Blog Experts on Niches
I’ve been to the experts, who tell me two things:
- you’ve got to identify a profitable niche for your web log or product, and
- you’re standing on a mountain of knowledge that you can’t see too well.
The first is a blog post in and of itself. Determining whether there’s profit in your passion is hard – but on the other hand, all you need to do is find enough people with enough disposable income and an interest in what you do to to get a business going. Sometimes, “what’s already profitable” is no guide to the things people don’t even know they need yet.
The second one is what I want to talk about today. I’ve wracked my brain about it since I first heard Tim Reid of Small Business Big Marketing talk about the mountain of knowledge during one of his podcast episodes.
The problem is, while you might have a bunch of bright ideas, it’s hard to tell from the inside which ones other people are actually going to want to need your help with.
It takes other people to identify your niche for you
The penny finally dropped for me when someone at work asked me about cosplay. I’m no cosplayer myself, but being a fan of science fiction in its varied forms, I’ve known about the art since the nineties (before it was even called “cosplay” in the West) and I was able to quickly show my friend at work some (safe for work) images of folks in movie-quality homemade Ghostbusters outfits (complete with proton packs).
That’s why I’m the worst person to come up with a niche for a web log – on my own, at least. Because I tend to try and look at the mountain of knowledge we all stand on solely in the context of me, not in the context of what other people use me for.
That, though, is a good place to start: Notice when others ask me for help and make a note of what they reckon I can help with.
Here’s a rough list after a couple of weeks:
My wife, Vickie
- Getting / moving things.
- Yardwork and gardening.
- “Who is this actor / musician?”
- “What’s cosplay?”
- “What’s a good game for my son at the moment?” – hipped her to Titanfall, which her son seems to like
- “What’s a good way to earn money whilst travelling?” – sent her a link to the Entrepreneur’s Journey podcast interview with laptop business owner Michelle Dale
- “How can I do thing X in Microsoft Office?”
I’ll admit, it doesn’t seem like a great many people needing my help with stuff. But sometimes, you just need to start small; build your self-confidence by helping the people you know in the ways only you can.
But where do I go from there?
Well, so far it seems I’m a font of semi-general knowledge on geek culture and technical problem solving.
And I’m not exactly sure what to do with that next. I’ve long avoided getting into IT; maybe it’s the perfectionist in me that hates being faced with problems I can’t solve, or maybe its my utter lack of interest in the deeper technical knowledge that an IT guy needs to be versed in.
Still, it’s given me some places to work from, that are based in solving other folks’ troubles.
We’ll see where we go…
What’s your play?
What do you think you’re good at?
What do the people around you tend to ask your advice with?
What problems make you think, “Hey, I could get Rob to give me a hand with that…”?