Every single expert marketer will tell you to niche. Find something that you enjoy writing about and write about it, and only that, so you can become an expert in that area. It gives you more credibility and makes it easier for people to find you.
I understand that logic, and I’ve seen it work. People do tend to gravitate to the “experts.” People with proven track records and best practices. But what if the best practices are not really the best for you?
I recently read Think Again by Adam Grant and one of my main takeaways was the idea that if we follow best practices, we don’t allow much room for experimentation. We follow the best practices because they are the best, but are we limiting the possibility of better practices?
Without playing around with ideas and thoughts, we run the risk of getting stuck in one way of thinking. I mean, how did the best practices become best anyway? It was through experimenting with different ways to do something. So, maybe, just maybe, niching down isn’t the best practice. Or, at least, maybe not the best practice for you – or me.
Writing myself into a niche feels like another limiting label, another box to check in order to make society happy. We love putting people into boxes because we think it will make it easier to understand the world. The problem with this is that each checked box equals a stereotype, and we are all more than checked boxes.
By forcing people into boxes, we ignore the nuance of what happens outside the box. And most people are not the sum of one checked box, or even a series of checked boxes. We live in the beautiful gray areas between the either/or.
Why do we have to be one or the other? This or that? Why can’t we be both or all? Or even some, but not all?
Niching feels like checking boxes. I naturally write about writing because that is something that interests me. I write about books because I love them, and it ties into writing. I love and studied and taught literature and poetry, so some might even call me an “expert.” But I also want to write about people and relationships and plants and animals, fields I have no expertise in. Does the fact that I am not an expert mean that I have nothing to add to the conversation?
Were best practices all developed by experts in their fields? Books are filled with stories of people who stumbled upon a solution (or new best practice) because they weren’t afraid of asking questions.
One of the many wonderful things about being a writer is the ability to explore and experiment with ideas and thoughts. It encourages questions and rethinking, not only for the writer but also for the reader. I am continually learning and growing, which is why I don’t want to niche.
Though because I am always learning and growing, I reserve the right to change my mind about niching later.
What are your thoughts about niche writing? Or niche creating of any kind?