I have a niche problem.
I don’t mean my particular niche is problematic. I mean I have a problem with determining and remaining in a niche in the first place.
Establishing and appealing to a niche is the no-so-secret ingredient of both online marketing and content creation itself. (Which is at least one third marketing anymore, anyhow.)
“Find your niche, create for it all the time, and tell them you’ve done so.” Not every source of this advise is so shady as to suggest in turn that the money will “roll in,” but they will nonetheless stand by this approach until the very last tick has tocked online.
Video, copy, even artwork. Niche. Find it. Shouldn’t be difficult, we’re told; follow your interests and passions. Join your “tribe.” (A word we really ought to stop using in this context, and I will henceforth discourage.)
The question that dogs me is, “what the hell is my niche?”
On Medium, I‘ve written about my place on the Autism Spectrum in several pieces. I have since abandoned my initial plan to make this my Autism platform, though it will naturally still come up frequently in my musings. First, it’s probably insensitive to refer to myself and one of my own communities as “niche.” But even if I sacrificed that concern at the altar of personal branding, I cannot see myself making Autism Spectrum Disorder my predominant subject matter on one, let alone all of my platforms. I would get weary of discussing my own neurodivergence. I don’t even think about my own neurodivergence as often as that.
I’m an indie-author, and I’ve played with that being my niche in some places. I’ve distilled my personal website down to 95% content about the craft of writing itself. I’m pushing my Twitter feed gently in that direction as well.
Lest you think a writer can make writing itself a niche about which they opine ceaselessly on a given platform, remember that one is advised to choose a niche within that niche. Editing, publishing, genre considerations. Sub-genre considerations. Is your audience new writers or seasoned ones?
Hell, the novels I’ve written don’t all fit into one defined genre. (Another marketing sin.) I’ve written a murder mystery, a straight up fantasy, and am working on a war-time novel now. You can “should” me into oblivion when it comes to picking a lane, but that fact of the matter is, I haven’t. Ergo, I don’t feel at home setting up stakes in a specific genre message board or writing group. Not that I am blacklisted from anywhere, as far as I know, but in the context of building and pursuing a niche in my writing, I’m a flop.
It’s not much better with my extensive theatre experience. I do offer tips for the actor on one of my video platforms, and in time that may take off. It takes a little while sometimes, I know. But if that “little while” requires me to laser focus on one topic for years, even if that topic is as significant to my mind as acting, I do believe I would bore myself into a creative coma long before I bored any potential readers.
I get it. It’s nigh unto impossible in these social-media days to simply present your entire personhood as an attractive package before you’ve gained notoriety. This isn’t a screed against the idea of pursuing and building your niche. It’s more an extended sigh about my not finding a way to do what has become the lifeblood of success online, and increasingly off line as well.
Even if I could whittle down my public persona to a specific niche, I have no doubt that a gnawing sense of inauthenticity would follow not long after. (Assuming my content would even catch on at all, which is a lottery.)
Are the lamentations of weary and overwhelmed Autistic in a non-Autistic market a niche?