Saturday, June 16, 2012

Eight Ways To Establish Your Niche

English: P icon with a newspaper
English: P icon with a newspaper (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
My grandfather, Henry Clay Ferree, was a writer for the Winston-Salem Journal and Sentinel and one of the treasures I found while cleaning out my mother's house in Blairsville was a tub full of his old articles carefully cut out of the newspaper and then pasted to sheets of yellowing crumbling paper.  I'm afraid it will take me a lifetime to read them all but I've finally brought them home to begin.  He wrote for the newspaper my whole life.  He wrote book reviews, informational articles and his claim to fame among family and friends,  A Sunday Thought, which was the title of his weekly editorial. Topics ranged from a slice of life in the country to a descriptive article on the beauty of spring to a political commentary on a current event.  I guess he was one of the first bloggers except that his medium was the newspaper instead of the internet.

This week, I thought I would tackle  the issue of discovering your niche and the first article I found on the top of the stack in the tub of hundreds was an article written in December of 1955 entitled "A Sunday Thought on Writing".  Was this serendipity, a coincidence or what?  He begins the article with a quote from Bennett Cerf, CEO of Random House, "Well, the material is well written.  It has a professional touch.  But it doesn't say anything."  He goes on to lament that would-be book authors have nothing to say but they succeed in saying it in a very polished and graceful manner.  In a similar vein, Stephen King in his book, On Writing, echoes a similar sentiment when he quotes the best advice he ever received from his first boss, John Gould who he told him, "When you write a story you're telling yourself the story.  When you rewrite, your main job is taking out all the things that are not the story."

Making sure that you have something worthwhile to say was true in 1955, in 2000 and it is especially true today as we develop our blogs.  Blogs are prolific and readers have much to chose from.  Make sure your blog fits into a niche and that it actually has something worthwhile to say in order to establish a tribe of followers.

In his new book, Platform, Michael Hyatt identifies some of the necessary attributes of a product that give it the WOW factor.  Here are some important areas to consider whether you are writing a blog, establishing a new service or creating a widget:

  • Remarkable--Is your product extraordinary?  Make sure that whatever your niche is, that you develop it in a way that there is delight, amazement and wonder involved.
  • Anticipation--Can you build in some anticipation, some excitement, some I-can't-wait-to-see-what's-next feelings as you launch your product?
  • Passion-Does your product tug at your heart-strings, express your personal values or ministry in some way?  Your passion will then come through and be contagious.
  • Spirituality-Beyond touching your heart-strings does your product in some way express a spiritual connection?  If this is not a natural part of the product, then think of a way to develop a connection.  Tom's shoes for instance would just be another pair of shoes except that the owner and creator of the shoes had a mission to put shoes on needy children in other countries.
  • Timelessness-Does your product relate to a past need, a present need and a future need?  Dan Miller of 48 Days To The Work You Love is an example of this.  No matter the economy, there will always be a need for someone who encourages and empowers others to find their true mission in life and live it out through their work.
  • Connection-Remember that last great book you read, workshop you attended or movie you saw?  Remember how you couldn't wait to tell your friends about it?  You want your product to have the same affect on others.  
  • Continuity of experience-Does your product give a consistently WOW experience every time? Does it just get better and better?
  • Privilege-Does your product create a tribe, a community of followers?  Dave Ramsey with his Financial Peace University is a great example of this.  I've been out shopping, at the bank, any number of places and something I've said or done has caused the response, "Are you a Dave Ramsey fan?"  When I say yes, there is an immediate comaradary and connection.  We assume a commonality of experience and values. Your product should ultimately do the same. 
As you write your blog, develop a service or product do you have a definite niche in mind?  What is the hardest part of developing your niche?  How can I help?
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  1. Great post, Lynne, as always! This is great advice on how to build, and keep, an effective platform. I do hope I will be able to develop mine successfully.
    Thanks for all your help and good ideas!

  2. @Martha--thanks for stopping by!

  3. Thanks, Lynne. I think it helps to have a mentor through the blogging process. At least one who tells me to have a voice in a specific area that meets the passion, connection, and privilege areas you wrote so clearly about. You rock!

  4. @dede--You make a really good point. Having a mentor or coach is really helpful!