In this week’s Digital Writing Compass Deep Dive, we want to talk about Niching Down.
As a writer, you know that one of the best ways to make your writing stand out is by niching down on your topic. But what does that mean, exactly? And how can you do it effectively?
Niching down simply means focusing your content on a specific, well-defined topic. It’s about being more targeted and specific with your writing, rather than trying to be everything to everyone.
There are two huge benefits you get when you niche down:
- Niching down creates a connection with the reader. When you write about specific topics that are hyper-relevant to an audience, they’re more likely to appreciate and value your content.
- Niching down positions you as the expert. When you focus on a specific topic, you have the opportunity to really dive deep and share your knowledge in a way that’s helpful and informative. Which means, more readers and followers who are interested in what you have to say.
But the mistake most beginning writer’s make is they want to go broad.
When you are just starting out and building the habit of daily writing, you instinctively try to write content that will appeal to everyone. This is fine in the beginning, but the problem is that when you write about big broad topics like “Money,” a lot of different people have a lot of different definitions of what it means to them—which leads to ambiguity in your work. (“Do you write about saving money? Or investing money? Or making money? Or stealing money?”)
Here’s a good rule of thumb: the broader you are, the more confusing you are.
And you should know that the more general your topic is, the harder it is for YOU to see all the potential combinations of things you have to write about. Conversely (and maybe counterintuitively), the more specific or niche your topic is, the easier it will be for you to see all the potential combinations of things to write about.
So, as you increase your level of specificity by niching down, you gain clarity (at each step) as to what exactly you want to write about.
Specificity is the secret.
Let’s get into it.
Here are 7 proven ways to niche down (so you can write things that resonate):
If you want to help your reader out, here’s some advice: money talks, ambiguous walks!
99.99% of people are interested in money.
- How to make what type of it
- What to do with how much of it
- How not to lose it when you have it
The list goes on and on, which means Price is an excellent way to niche down on your topic.
Look at this tweet.
This will attract a specific type of reader: writers who want to make a million dollars. But if you were to remove just one word, “million,” the audience and specificity changes. Now you will attract an entirely different set of writers—people who want to go from 0 to 1.
This is the power of using Price.
“Mo money, mo problems.” –The Notorious B.I.G., Rapper
Biggie had it right, but the truth is “mo anything” brings more problems. Which means, as a writer there are endless problems for you to niche down on for any given topic.
In Ship 30, we write about the 10 problems all beginning writers face:
- Generating ideas
- Impostor syndrome
- Choose a platform
- Writing consistently
- Finding time to write
Over the last 2 years we have amassed an enormous library of content talking about each of the problems and we still have more to say!
Here’s an example of how we niche down on the problem of “writing consistently”.
And here’s an example for the problem of “generating ideas”.
Let Ship 30 serve as a model for you. Try it for yourself.
Write down a list of the top 10 problems your audience faces and then use the endless idea generator to create 100+ things to write about that answer those problems.
Another great way to segment your writing topic is by industry.
Identifying an industry automatically does two things:
- It draws the attention of people who are in that industry.
- It draws the attention of people who want to know about that industry.
Everyone else will ignore it (and that’s a good thing).
You don’t need to be shy about excluding readers. When you leave people out, it’s a sign that you are getting more specific.
For instance, in this tweet from Dickie he mentions Crypto, Web 3, and NFTs.
If you have any interest in any one of these industries, there’s a good chance you will read this thread.
Notice what happens if you remove the industries:
20 quotes from Tim Ferris, Naval Ravikant, and Chris Dixon.
It loses its specificity. It’s “for everyone” which really means it’s “for no one.” The thread becomes broad and could cover any range of topics—which means, because you don’t know what you’re going to get, you simply choose to ignore it.
Location, location, location.
What works in real estate, works in writing.
Ok maybe not quite the same way, but you get the idea.
We talk a lot about the 2-Year Test inside of Ship 30 for 30. Basically everything that has happened to you in the last 2 years is a situation or experience that you’ve had (and that you can write about).
- You were in college.
- You were addicted to cigarettes.
- You’ve watched almost every show on Netflix.
Here’s a great example of niching down on “a tough situation.”
Anyone who is going through a situation with a business partner or thinks that might have chosen a bad business partner, is likely to be curious about the above article.
If you’ve experienced “it,” overcome “it,” or solved “it” in your life, you can niche down by “it.”
Everyone has experience, but not everyone has experience at the same level.
Look at any career ladder or organizational chart and you will find:
- Beginners, first-timers, and entry-level positions
- Middle managers, intermediates, and mid-level leaders
- Senior, executive staff, and tenured people in any department
Each of these levels is a niche and is another way to add clarity to your writing.
In Ship 30 for 30, we serve beginner writers—which is why we use the Experience niche in our headlines, like the one below, all the time.
Most people gravitate to niching down by demographic when thinking about how to get more specific.
It’s also the most natural way to call out your potential readers, because you are literally naming them.
- Hockey player
- Middle schooler
But demographics on their own are not that interesting. The secret is to crank up the voltage on the demographic by getting even more specific.
- Love-struck 6th grader
- Trendsetting millennial
- Recreational hockey player
Once you identify a demographic, ask yourself “what kind?” or “what type?” to get even more specific.
Here are a few more examples:
Remember, the more specific you are, the more clarity you will have in your writing and the more likely the reader is to identify with what you have to say.
The goal here is to get so specific that you feel like you actually can’t get anymore specific. You’ve made it abundantly clear who (exactly) this piece is for, and more importantly, who it ISN’T for.
A lot of writers shy away from this level of specificity.
Don’t be one of them.
Enjoyed this edition? Click here to share it on Twitter!