Why “Pick A Niche” Is Bad Advice And What You Should Do Instead

Sunday, May 5, 2024

Why “Pick A Niche” Is Bad Advice And What You Should Do Instead

Niche down. niche down. niche down. This is what you’ll hear the moment you decide to start making content online.

As you build your personal brand everyone will tell you to find a specific topic and stick to it.

But have you been wondering if it’s possible to be successful online without niching down?

Beyond Niching Down

What if you find yourself hating the idea of constraining yourself to just one topic?

Pursuing the “niche down” approach for your personal brand can take away the freedom you want with your online business. If you are not careful, it can take you further from your real goals.

Today we’ll cover why niching down is not the only way.

We can instead rely on the power of skill stacking, interest overlap, and what I like to call niching back.

The New Rich And The One-Person Business

By the way, this isn’t some hippie method. If applied right, we can make real money from this.

Look at wealthy creators like Dan Koe, Captain Sinbad, and Ali Abdaal. They are great examples of authentic personal brands. They make millions of dollars by being themselves and covering a wide range of interests.

I’ve even spent thousands of dollars on guidance from these creators to gain a deeper understanding of how they built and grew their personal brands.

I’ll share the top lessons I’ve learned from wealthy creators. Plus, I’ve spent 13 years creating content and trying many strategies on YouTube.

This is for you if you want to build a personal brand under your own name. It is a strategy to grow your online authority for long term wealth.

Niche Creators Will Start Struggling

Impersonal niche brands will soon start dying off. Creators who are too impersonal will continue to be replaced by faceless YouTube channels. These channels use AI voices and ai images to create videos that will continue to

replace niche brands.

If you find that your type of content could easily be replaced by AI, it’s time to make a change and bring an authentic human touch to your work.

Why Niching Down Is Not The Only Way To Reduce Competition

You might think that “niching down” reduces competition, and makes things easier. However, this is only true at first glance. In the long term, a single narrow topic is not sustainable for a personal brand.

It is true that covering super broad topics brings more competition, which is why we need to make sure we have the right strategy.

Competing Against Giants

What happens if you simply go as broad as possible? Let’s say you decide to talk about something as wide as “self-improvement”. You will find yourself in competition with very big names in the industry.

Imagine trying to stand out when someone as famous as Tony Robbins is your competitor.

He’s not just super famous, but he has hundreds of people working for him.

Plus, he has so much money that he could easily outspend anyone trying to compete with him.

How can you stand out when competing against someone with unlimited resources? This is where authenticity becomes your most valuable tool.

As Naval says: “Escape competition through authenticity.”

But what does being authentic mean beyond the simple

advice of “just be yourself”?

In this post I’ll present you with the power of skill stacking, interest overlap, and what I call niching back, which we’ll cover later.

Skill Stacking

Let’s start with the power of skill stacking. The best example I can think of is William Spencer, he is a Hollywood stunt double.

Imagine you are one of thousands of stunt-doubles in Hollywood looking for a job in a big film, how do you stand out?

Most stunt doubles are already proficient in parkour, and some of them can skateboard.

But how many can do both?

William Spencer didn’t just stop at mastering these two skills.

He took it a step further and thought: “Sure, some people can skate, and some can do parkour, but how many can perform parkour while on a skateboard?”

By stacking two skills he created a new art form, and significantly reduced his competition.

When a movie production requires a stunt double who can do parkour and skateboard, and even do parkour on a skateboard, the list of potential stunt doubles to hire becomes extremely small.

For a Hollywood producer, a quick Google search will likely lead to the best choice: William Spencer.

That’s exactly what happened when the producers of Spider-Man were looking for a stunt double for Andrew Garfield.

There’s a scene in The Amazing Spider-Man where Peter Parker is discovering his powers while skateboarding.

William Spencer secured this job and unlocked a massive role in a blockbuster, while his competition didn’t stand a chance.

He may not have been the top choice if they were simply looking for someone proficient in parkour, or instead just a good skateboarder.

But because they needed someone who could do both, he was the way to go.

William Spencer eliminated all his competition through authenticity by stacking his skills and creating a new category.

What Is A Niche?

Let’s go back for a second and question what the hell is a niche, really. Ironically, the term “niche” itself isn’t very specific. Simply put a niche is a small group of people within a larger market.

And when people use the term “niche down” it essentially means to pick a very particular topic and stick to it, and avoid covering topics unrelated to your topic of choice.

If your interests shift as you grow and change as a person, sticking to just one topic might not always work out well long term.

Why Is Niching Down Such Common Advice?

Why does everyone recommend to niche down in the first place?

People do this to be known as the “[insert topic] guy” but this strategy is mostly useful for the purpose of selling ad space and getting sponsors.

The niche down advice comes from the assumption that sponsors are the only business model, but this is far from true. We’ll explore how we can monetize things in a different way.

As a small creator, trying to make a living from sponsors, this is the modern equivalent of being a street sign spinner.

If you have a YouTube channel or some other social media profile, working with sponsors while you are a small creator will keep you in a small box.

Sponsors want you to stay niche, that how they make the most money out of your audience.

The model of selling ad space works better when you are a very big creator, since then you can be very selective about the sponsors you take while keeping your creative freedom.

As you are are starting out creating content, I think it’s better to avoid thinking about sponsors and instead thinking of your personal brand as an independent business.

Content As A Business

Turning your personal brand into a business requires a few mindset shifts.

The balance we need to find is between long term growth, while still making money as we grow.

There are three things you can do as a creator: educate, inspire, and entertain.

Educate Before You Entertain

The money is in the first two - educate and inspire.

I believe your content should be still be entertaining enough to capture people’s attention.

We should entertain to the extent that it helps us capture attention to share our deeper message, but I’m putting less emphasis on the entertainment aspect since I’ve tried an entertainment-first approach in the past, but it’s a model that will heavily rely on sponsors and ads, which is not what we want.

In the past, I even made entertaining-type videos with visual effects. I made a video on 2017 with over 12 million views on YouTube, and I still made almost zero money from it.

So if your ambition is to become an entertainment creator, I might not be your guy for this. I’m sure there’s some TikTok dancer out there who can give you better advice on making it in show business.

But assuming you want to explore a business model based mainly in educating your audience, here’s the trick.

Make broad content about your multiple interests, offer 1:1 free calls to understand your audience better. As you notice some ideas gaining more traction, you can offer 1:1 coaching on a skill you are good at. Then, you can build a paid course, group coaching, or a paid community membership. All of this while still making broad, beginner-friendly content and then building something called marketing funnels, which will guide your audience into your paid products. If you are interested in exploring this in more detail here: ​How to Make Money With a Small YouTube​

How To Structure Your Multiple Interests?

Now how do you build a personal brand that manages multiple interests.

One potential option is creating a bunch of separate accounts one for each topic you are interested in.

This would mean having several YouTube channels, podcast, or social media profiles.

A few years ago, I tried this approach. I was running five different podcast shows: one on stoic philosophy, another on animation, street magic, language learning, and another on polymathy.

This experience taught me that this approach isn’t the way to go.

While some people might be able to manage it, I believe a strategy like that works best if you have a larger team of people who can help you produce large amounts of separate content.

However, when the goal is to establish a personal brand, I feel that this strategy might dilute your efforts.

When you try to focus on too many things at once, it can make your attention too scattered. So how the hell do we pursue our multiple interests in a way that actually works?

Bringing It All Under One Same Roof

The idea is this: you bring all your interests together in one place, but this needs to be done in a very specific way in order to work.

If we take a look at some of the largest creators making over 1 million dollars from their personal brands, we’ll notice one constant pattern.

Dan Koe talks about business concepts in a beginner-friendly way, Ali Abdaal discusses productivity in a manner that beginners can understand.

Captain Sinbad created entertaining videos that self-improvement enthusiasts loved, and then he transitioned into discussing mindset, goal-setting, and social skills in a way that resonates with a broad audience.

Ali Abdaal doesn’t do niche tutorials on the very specific features of an app, instead, he covers broad topics that attract more people.

What they all have in common is that they are broad in what they cover but at the same time they are beginner-friendly.

And the way they turn it into a business is by selling the specific knowledge of a skill they are good at, so the niche stuff is behind a paywall.

Introducing Your Audience To New Topics

Your content should touch on topics your audience might not be familiar with.

By keeping the subject matter broad, you ensure no one feels excluded.

This way, you might have the common pursuit of entrepreneurship, and because you think in a similar way, you think they’ll benefit from this other thing you know about.

This way, you’re not just sticking to what they already know, you’re expanding their horizons and sharing more of your expertise.

For example, let’s say someone enjoys entrepreneurship but isn’t a fan of going to the gym.

If you take the time to explain the basics to them and show how hitting the gym can actually benefit their entrepreneurial endeavors, they might start to see things differently.

This could lead to them appreciating you more since you’ve helped them find more common ground between new interests.

For instance, when I listen to a content creator who uses chess as an analogy to explain an idea, it resonates with me.

I spend a lot of time playing chess online, so this connection makes the content more relatable and engaging for me.

When I find out we share a hobby, I think, “Oh wow, that’s super cool.”

The more rare a shared hobby is, the stronger the connection you feel with the creator.

As an example, there’s this YouTuber called Andrei Jikh who covers stock market stuff. I usually consume more entrepreneurship-based content, but I once watched one of his videos, and even though I wasn’t super interested in stocks, he started his video by doing some card magic.

I thought, “No way, I do card magic too! This guy gets me.” We share a very specific interest, and that makes me like him more, regardless of his niche.

Sharing common interests with your audience helps build trust between you and them.

From there, some of these people might decide to pay for your services or products.

This approach allows you to connect with a wide range of people.

And because of this wide reach, the number of people who end up becoming paying clients can be quite large.

Niche Back

How can we use authenticity and our different interests to build our personal brand?

The more I think about this, the more I’ve been experimenting with other methods, this led me to thinking, what is the opposite of: “niching down”? So I started playing with different word combinations, niche up niche left niche right niche forward and then I found “niche back”.

Niching back means creating content with your ideal audience member in mind, and who is the person you know best? It’s you. Niching back means targeting your past self, who is constantly evolving. This allows you to explore various interests as long as it’s useful to your past self.

When you’re creating content, imagine you’re addressing that version of yourself.

Imagine You Had A Time Machine, To Advise Your Past Self.

Imagine how great it would be to have a time machine, one where you could consume content from your future self. Think about it, right now, you’re facing problems in your life, and a lot of these problems come from not having the right information, knowledge, or beliefs.

The person who can help you the most is usually someone who is already where you want to be.

If you had a time machine, you could advice your past self, helping him achieve your goals sooner with less pain, that would be incredibly valuable.

Since time travel isn’t possible, what we need to do is play that role for people in our audience. We can share our life experiences and lessons to help them.

There are people out there, who would benefit so much from the learning the skills and knowledge you currently have.

This is how you can explore various interests while reducing competition, because the people that resonate with you is in fact a niche, a group of people within a broad market.

Finding Your True Fans

You just need to find the people that will benefit from your message, you do this by making more and better content, that’s how you find your true fans.

The idea of true fans comes from a very famous blog post, to summarize it, the idea is that if you are able to get 1000 true fans that support you in any way the can, that’s how you can build a reliable business.

Even if you believe you’re incredibly unique, there are people out in the world who want to be where you are at now.

The more these people find common ground with you, the more they will trust you.

Building A Future-Proof Brand

When I think about what content to create next, I always ask myself what would have helped me in the past.

As we go through life, we’ll change an evolve. This means that our brand and content should evolve with us.

If you continue to keep things fresh, you’ll continue to attract people who think just like you do, this can help keep your brand new and exciting.

This is how you sustain a personal brand as a business that stays strong and alive.

Playing Infinite Games

In game theory there’s the idea of infinite games. This simply means that the goal of the game is to keep playing. Your personal brand is exactly that, as long as you’re still in the game, you’re winning.

Many of the most meaningful aspects of life, such as health, relationships, and business, are infinite games.

It’s not just about making healthy choices for a day, it’s about keeping them long term.

Find Something You Can Do Long Term

For me, one of my major goals in recent years has been building muscle.

That’s why I’ve been faithfully going to the gym for two years straight.

Even on days when I don’t feel like going, and I never feel like it, I still go, because I understand that the key to success is simply not giving up.

I haven’t reached my goals yet.

But as long as I keep going and don’t give up, I’m still in the game.

Relationships are part of this endless game as well.

The aim isn’t just to get married, but to stay married.

It’s the same with business and content creation, it’s not just about finding a winning niche, it’s about being able to keep making content in the long term.

Just Keep Playing

The question you should ask yourself is “How can I keep playing this as an infinite game?” That way your priorities shift towards long-term sustainability.

To do this, you need to focus on your interests and let your brand grow and change as you do.

You can show who you really are through video, audio, or your writings.

As you express yourself more authentically, people will begin to trust you more.

Over time, they will start to like you for who you are, not just for the things you talk about.

Even if people lose interest in the topic you’re discussing, if you’ve built a strong relationship with your audience, many of them will continue to follow you.

If you keep your true self hidden from your audience, and they start to find your topic boring, your brand might fall apart.

This doesn’t mean you have to share private things if you’re not comfortable.

However, you can let people know more about you.

You can do this by talking about your experiences and what you strongly believe in.

Your personal brand should show the real you.

The only thing you really need to specialize in is being yourself, as cheesy as that sounds. Because only then do you become truly irreplaceable.

You just need to put in the reps and improve as you go, quantity is what leads to quality.

Go through life getting new skills and new knowledge, and then in your content, combine your hobbies and talents in unique ways.

That’s it for this one. Hope you enjoyed it. If you want to catch up with me and other creators in the pursuit of building authentic personal brands, join my community.You can ​join ​my free community here​,​ hope to see you there!

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