Andrew Goodman wrote a delightfully good column over at SEL about how and when going niche is wrong. He noted that the advice to go niche typically comes from niche market thought leaders and people selling information products who tend to think everyone else is just like them.
The reason people push the niche idea are:
- it is easy advice to give
- overestimating the value of our own experience
- the web has many self-reinforcing effects that favor market leaders
- it is hard to conquire a big field until you have proven success and gained confidence from conquering a smaller niche
- it doesn't take much to get past self sustaining if you focus on something you are passionate about
- it is harder to get burned out working on something you are passionate about
It is a mistake I have made many times, but it is easy to speak of your own experiences as truth, especially if you are expected to write nearly every day. Focusing too tightly on a niche for an extended period of time makes it easy to become inauthentic, inaccurate, boring, and/or pessimistic. Those are obvious to anyone who reads frequently, and they are counter to what allows companies to expand:
We can certainly see how small to midsized retailersâ€”online and offâ€”who undergo recognizable and surprising spurts of growth, seem to have something in common beyond the executional wisdom and recruiting skills of the larger enterprises that Collins tracks in Good to Great. That intangible seems to be: contagious excitement.
If you are making 50 websites it is likely that you will be more successful if you focus on one or two of them before building out all the others, such that you incorporate learning from your first few sites into your later sites. Why repeat all the mistakes? In the same sense, it helps to conquer one market position before going too broad. When I started on the web I wanted to know a lot more about search than I could have profitably done, especially since the market already had clear market leaders with momentum, social relationships, media relationships, strong brand, capital, and knowledge advantages over me.
After I niched down to SEO and built a brand I was able to create numerous revenue streams (consulting sales, ebook sales, direct ad sales, contextual ad sales, affiliate commissions, link sales, referral commissions, speaking engagements, etc). It is also easy to further leverage my knowledge gained building this site to provide more revenue streams away from this site. I have a network idea I want to launch soon, but it still needs some work.
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