Targeting a niche as a creative entrepreneur
Make no mistake about it — your art does not appeal to everyone.
And, there are no clear dividing lines between interests anymore. Some people who love the blues also love EDM. Some who love portraits also love landscapes. Others who enjoy abstract poetry might be into something mostly unrelated like macramé.
Further, we know that people don’t just follow one person on social media. They follow a variety of people, even if it’s in the same industry.
Understanding this behavior is key to targeting a niche. After all, you’ll need to cut through the noise if you want to stand out.
Standing Out from the Crowd
Let’s say you’re a visual artist. Well, I can tell you right now that you’re not the only visual artist out there. So, that alone will not make you stand out from the crowd.
What has the potential to help you cut through the noise is your subject matter (what you draw or paint), your style (the specific way in which you draw or paint), and the medium (the tools you use to draw or paint).
When I Google the term “tiger painting”, it turns up 101 million search results. That number instantly goes down to 21.8 million results if I enter the term, “neon yellow tiger painting” instead. And, when I look at the image results, I don’t see too many legitimate neon yellow tigers (though if you enter other common colors like blue or green, you will).
This example should go to illustrate that you probably have a better chance at being recognized for your neon yellow tiger paintings than your generic tiger paintings.
I’m not going to stop you from putting together a tiger painting if that’s your heart’s desire, but again, there are plenty of these out there. So, you’re probably not going to find your audience this way.
From General to Specific
Targeting a niche is the last thing most creatives want to do. They don’t like to be pigeonholed. Plus, they want to be free to create whatever they want to create.
Yet if I told you to sit down and write, draw, paint, or sculpt right now, without any further instructions, you might be at a loss as to what to create. And, even if you did make something, it might not be terribly inspired.
So, I think you would agree that determining a focus for your piece before getting to work on it is important.
What’s the point? The point is that, as a creative entrepreneur, you should begin with at least a general sense of what genre of art you’re going to be creating.
If you’re a country artist, then write country songs. Writing a rock song might be fun, but if you want to find your niche within the country scene, then writing rock songs is a waste of time and energy.
Start general. You may not attract a large audience immediately but doing this should help you engage potential fans. “Oh, you’re a country artist”, they say, because they instantly recognize the style of music you’re making.
Once established on a general level, you’re ready to go specific. And, you can begin exploring one of many subgenres, such as bluegrass, country blues, honky tonk and beyond. You could even attempt to create your own genre.
“This doesn’t sound like creative freedom to me”, you might say.
I will readily admit there is a difference between creating art for yourself and creating art for an audience.
Entrepreneurs understand the importance of building their audience. After all, if there’s no one to sell to, there’s no opportunity to be had!
“But when do I get to try something different?”, you may be asking.
Look, there’s nothing wrong with deviating away from your core genre here and there. Experimentation can lead to many interesting discoveries and help you stay inspired to work on your art over the long haul. So, please feel free to try different things. But for the most part, you should stick to your guns, especially early on.
There is a good time to diversify, however, and that’s when you’ve established yourself in one genre.
If you’re creative, then there’s a good chance your creativity knows many expressions. But your initial goal should be to be known for one thing before you add other things to your portfolio.
It’s not just creatives that struggle with this. There are plenty of entrepreneurs that suffer from shiny object syndrome too.
So, hold off on diversification until later. Establish yourself in one area first.
Own Your Niche
It’s easier to get established in a niche than it is to get established in a general market. But this isn’t to suggest that it won’t require hard work either way, as it likely will.
This is especially true if you’re creating something in a niche that’s not saturated, or mostly non-existent. If it doesn’t exist, no one knows about it, which means you must create awareness for it. And, that can be challenging.
That’s why I said it’s best to start general and then go specific. If you start with an art form people are familiar with, and then add your own flavor to it, you should have at least a small audience to draw from. And, if they like what you do, your art should spread gradually by word of mouth.
Again, we can’t discount the importance of marketing, which is why I’ve dedicated some space to that conversation as well. So, don’t wait for your fans to do all your promotion work for you.
Regardless, your goal should be to own your niche. Don’t paint one neon yellow tiger and call it a day. Paint dozens or even hundreds of them. Then, begin to share these with the world. Put pictures of your paintings on your website and snag the top spot in Google. Get all your paintings to show up in Google Image Search. Be the go-to person in the neon yellow tiger space.
The Road to Profit
Understand that not everything you do will be a runaway success.
You could have done everything right and still not find an audience or make any money from your art.
So, treat this like an experiment. If necessary, go back to the drawing board and start over. Your neon yellow tigers might not strike a chord with people, but your efforts will not have been in vain. If you try your hand at something else and become known for that, your neon yellow tigers could begin flying off the shelf.
Targeting a niche is both an art and a science, so make it your mission to understand both sides.