I’ve had niches on my mind lately.
I love the definition of a niche as a nook or cranny — a little space. The idea of your writing niche as the place where you curl up in a comfy chair and settle in. Instead of more vertical growth, your niche is where you go deep.
And it’s where you find your people. I mean, hopefully you find people no matter what you write. But your people, the folks who really connect with you because they really believe you’re writing just for them? They show up when you find your niche and start writing in it.
So, I’ve decided to experiment with a new niche.
Because it’s what I do. In fact, I think experimental writing kind of is a niche for me. It’s something I love to do and a space where I can go deep with my readers.
I have this goal for 2020 that feels a little unusual to me. In fact, I find myself constantly feeling the need to caveat it with a recognition that I know how weird it is. I want to figure out my personal style.
Just the fact that talking about it makes me a little squirmy and uncomfortable is a good indication that there’s something there for me to write about. Plus I’m having a lot of fun with it so far. That combo — squirmy + fun — to me means that there’s a lot of content to mine.
So, last night I wrote a post about naming my personal style (Woman with a Story), a name which I also gave to my publication.
A Woman With a Story: Choosing a Name for My Personal Style
All right, so I’m weird like that.
I’d love for you to follow along, if you’re interested. I’ll be writing about the experiment over here, though, in The Write Brain.
Deciding your niche has merit.
What will you write about?
First, I brainstormed what kind of posts might go in a publication, if I started one. If I really dug into this idea as a niche, what would I want to write about? Here’s what I came up with:
- I know that in the next several months, regardless of whether or not I write about it, I have a couple of appointments set up with style/color experts. It started with one and then two more just fell into my lap. Writing about those is obvious.
- I’m particularly fascinated right now with color theory and also the different theories about dressing for your body/face shape (which, interestingly to me, has nothing to do with your weight.)
- I love thrift shopping, so writing up thrift hauls is something I already know I like to do. I also had some travel planned for 2020 and I always visit thrift stores when I travel, so I can combine thrifting with travel posts in a cool way.
- I’ve already developed a semi-niche surrounding body acceptance. This new niche goes deeper and falls right in line with that. I can look at body acceptance through that lens.
- I like the idea of looking at a style photo that I like and figuring out how to recreate it, then writing about that.
- I spent all last winter in a serious funk after moving from the desert to Northwestern PA (where it’s gray from November until May.) I’d like to write some posts about how style affects your mood.
- I’m working my way through Anuschka Rees’ book The Curated Closet Workbook and I’m completely fascinated with the process (it’s super intense!) There’s definitely some posts to write in this process.
- I really don’t think I’m the only woman headed into middle age and menopause who’s feeling a little lost in her personal style — and maybe a little invisible. I’ve got some things to say on that, too. And hopefully I can help readers who want to figure things out for themselves as well.
So, I can definitely see that I have plenty I want to write in this relatively narrow little niche. Making a list of the types of posts you’d like to write will give you an idea whether or not you’ve got enough to say on your subject. (Spoiler: you probably do. Sometimes, you just need to convince yourself.)
Go ahead and write a couple of those posts.
Test the waters. Write a few posts on your subject, just to see what happens.
It’s okay if your new niche’s posts don’t get the same amount of traffic as your other posts (if you are already writing posts that get a good amount of traffic.) They might not at first. They need to find their people.
But you’re looking for the response from the people who do find it. Do your readers respond well? Do you get good feedback? Is there the sense that if you wrote more, those readers would come back?
If there’s not, a couple of things might be going on.
You might not be reaching your niche’s audience. If you’re writing in a new niche that’s wildly different from your old niche or from the types of posts you’ve been writing, then your current followers might not be the right readers for those posts.
If that’s the case, try to find a way to get your new posts in front of some people who are likely to enjoy your new niche. Maybe you can share in an appropriate Facebook group or even just on your personal Facebook wall, if you have friends who are interested in your subject.
Think about where you hang out to get information about your niche yourself and try to share the fact that you’re writing on your subject in those places.
Another problem that I see fairly often is that sometimes writers who niche way down lose the storytelling aspect of their writing. They get so into the teaching — they love what they’re writing about so much — that they forget that they’re here to tell a story, too.
Conversely, sometimes they make their posts so much about themselves that they leave their readers out of them all together. Too much storytelling and not enough take away.
A good rule of thumb is to start your post with a story and end with a take away for your reader. If your posts are getting reads, but aren’t connecting with readers, you might be missing one of those aspects.
When you’ve got a niche that’s got a little traction, it’s time to go deeper.
I posted a few essays over the holidays. An introduction to the idea of writing about personal style. A thrift haul from my trip to Mexico. A post about going to have my colors done in Philadelphia.
And the response was good. Not as many reads as my posts about writing, of course. I have a well-established audience for these posts. But a respectable amount. And several thoughtful comments, including some asking me to continue writing on the subject.
Start thinking about that list you made. Go deeper with it. What actual posts do you want to write? What exactly do you have to say about your niche? How do you hope to engage the people who are interested in your narrow topic?
I think the best part about having a niche is that it’s fun. You get to play in your happy place.
Shaunta Grimes is a writer and teacher. She is an out-of-place Nevadan living in Northwestern PA with her husband, three superstar kids, two dementia patients, a good friend, Alfred the cat, and a yellow rescue dog named Maybelline Scout. She’s on Twitter and Instagram and is the author of Viral Nation and Rebel Nation, and The Astonishing Maybe. She is the original Ninja Writer.