Should you cover the same niche as someone else? – TAP159

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It’s great to be the first person in a niche. But don’t be discouraged if you’re not. Consider the following seven points to help you embrace your differences, despite the existing “competition,” or find a better niche for your blog or podcast.

I didn’t see saturated markets

When I launched The Audacity to Podcast, there were only two other regular podcasts about podcasting. I could see that neither of them were covering particular topics or alternatives. So I started my own podcast to cover that gap.

My approached gradually changed and strengthened into what it is today, and I think I fill that niche and perspective (how-tos and in-depth discussions to help you improve) well.

So consider the following before you either enter or disregard the same niche as someone else.

1. Your experience is unique

No one has lived your life: learned all that you have, tried everything you have, or met all the people you know. Each of these heavily influence your perspective.

A music composer, theater major, video gamer, and Christian pastor (walk into a bar?) would probably all review a movie differently from each other. (I just screened The Lego Movie and absolutely loved it because I grew up with “Legos,” but someone else may hate the movie because they didn’t have similar childhood experiences.)

Your experience will affect how you approach relationships, how people relate with you, your values and goals, and especially your perspective.

Bring out your unique experiences when you share content. Go ahead and share relevant life stories—no one else can share that same story!

2. Your perspective may be complementary

I like to describe a competitive space as a sculpture. Each artist can come to it from different angles to carve out a three-dimensional piece of art. Other artists may be good at choosing the material or painting the colors. When you consume these different perspectives, you get a more complete picture of the subject. (But also don’t forget that each artist should be creating their own art.)

Look for your unique perspective that complements the industry as a whole. Sometimes, this may even mean an opposing perspective. Just look at how many tech reviewers there are who hate Microsoft and love Apple, or vice versa!

I see this all the time with the Once Upon a Time podcasts. There are a lot of fan podcasts about this one TV show, but each podcast always seems to notice something that the others don’t. And each collection of hosts have their own perspectives: focusing on stories that affect a favorite character, historical/literary connections, character development, plot twists, “easter eggs,” and more.

The top podcasts about podcasting fill their own perspectives well. Each of these complement each other for you, the potential or current podcaster.

  • Podcast Answer Man—Cliff Ravenscraft has a large audience asking a lot of questions. He is great at providing these answers and inspiring success.
  • School of PodcastingDave Jackson is experimental and opinionated! He discusses recent news items affecting podcasters, shares unheard-of tools, and curates great “because of my podcast …” stories.
  • The Podcasters’ Studio—Ray Ortega produces podcasts as his regular day job. He finds creative solutions to common problems, has great information on video production, and he highlights gems of little things that can make big differences.
  • The Audacity to Podcast—Daniel J. Lewis (me!) goes in-depth with topic discussions, detailed how-to information, and resources to help you launch or improve your podcast.
  • The Feed—Elise Escobar works for LibSyn and is in touch with thousands of professional and “amateur” podcasters facing a variety of successes and struggles. She, and frequent cohost Rob Walch, bring you tips, industry news, and information to keep you podcasting.
  • Music Radio Creative—Mike and Izabela Russell broaden their perspective to include podcasters, traditional radio hosts, and DJs. They bring many audi0-branding and production tips with an international flare.
  • Podcast Talent Coach—Erik K. Johnson focuses on priceless tips, inspired by his radio background, on finding great ideas, making engaging content, and asking quality questions.
  • Podcasters’ Roundtable—A collaboration hosted by Ray Ortega and joined by Dave Jackson and Daniel J. Lewis, discussing controversial issues affecting podcasters. They have frequent guests from all levels and fields of podcasting.

Before you enter a seemingly covered space, find your unique approach to fill the gaps that others are leaving.

3. You have your own personality

I ‘m sure that probably all of the podcasting consultants receive messages like, “I can’t stand [other consultant], but I like you.” Often, this has more to do with personality than anything else.

People relate with personalities (which are heavily influenced from experience). A strong personality means more chances of turning off people, and a week personality will be forgotten.

While you may want to filter some language, depending on your content and audience, but don’t filter your personality and try to be someone else! Let people like or hate you for who you really are.

Even if you have the same perspective as someone else, your personality may relate with people they don’t.

Look at the automobile industry. Each manufacturer will often try to attach certain personalities with certain models. You will probably never see a sports car marketed to mothers with young children, a minivan for the rough-and-tough lumberjack man, a luxury vehicle for teens, or a dirty pickup truck for company CEOs. The personalities don’t fit, but all of these automobiles have the same core purpose—to get you and optional stuff from one place to another, and usually on four wheels.

4. Your final “product” may appeal to those your “competition” can’t

Imagine what the world would be like if Pepsi decided, “Coca-Cola already has a cola on the market; we’ll never succeed.”

Or what if Apple had said, “Everyone is making flip phones and PDAs, there’s no need for this smartphone.”

Your podcast, for many reasons, may appeal to an audience that finds no attraction in any of the other offerings. Look at how many colas there are, or how many smartphones you can get from one wireless carrier. Some items may have a small appeal, but that could be an extremely passionate group of people who may be more active than anyone else.

This is how the Podcast Awards work, and how I even won once. A little podcast with a passionate, engaged audience can beat a big podcast with a passive audience.

But if your potential topic already seems well covered, consider the following.

5. You may be better in a deeper niche

“Technology” is a massive topic and you would have a very hard time fitting in with all the industry giants. So go deeper! Pick a particular kind of technology, or a particular audience.

For example, John Wilkerson talks about technology for homeschool families, David McCabe and Jim Collison talk about home server technology, and Cynthia Sanchez talks about nothing but Pinterest.

You may like video games, but maybe you should become the expert in a single video game or a single style of gaming.

If you like music, pick a single genre to discuss instead of reviewing everything.

When you “niche down” (as either Ray Ortega or Pat Flynn first said), you increase your leverage to become the go-to person in that topic. This could mean speaking opportunities, interviews, sponsorships, and more.

6. You may be better in a different niche

The possible topic depth, alone, may present you with more than enough options. But if it doesn’t, then it may be time to change directions.

You’re smart and you have more ideas! If your current idea seems to be taken too much for you to find a place, find another passion and restart the thinking process.

Yes, this means you may have to let go of a good idea. But if you can have one good idea, you can have another idea that may be even better.

7. You may not discover your strengths until you get in

Whatever you do, it will probably take a few episodes before you find your true zone, and that could change again over time. So don’t be afraid to jump in because you don’t feel unique. Give it your true best and look for your strengths.

When I look back at The Audacity to Podcasts’s history, I can see that the first month of episodes didn’t have much focus, then the following 20 episodes had a little more “how-to” direction and in-depth information, but I think it wasn’t until after almost a year later that I realized my strengths (that I had already been doing) and could put it in the words “A ‘how-to’ podcast about podcasting and using Audacity.”

After a couple more years, I now see myself with a new perspective, so my marketing and approach will change a little in the coming months, but you may have already recognized it.

What about you?

Are you in a “saturated” niche? How do you set yourself apart?

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Read my full article for more information and to see how each media host lines up.

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  • Ben Avery

    I guess I sort of have a question that wasn’t covered here — what do you do if you have a podcast within a niche that BECOMES saturated with other podcasts after you’ve started?

    We started Welcome to Level Seven — http://welcometoelevelseven.com — as a Marvel TV/movies fan podcast when we heard that Agents of SHIELD was going to be a TV series, and we released episodes throughout the summer before the show even started. As the summer ended and we got closer to the series premiere, a lot of podcasts began popping up to cover the show.

    All we’ve been able to do is work to maintain consistency and quality. We recognize that other podcasts may be better or may be worse, but no other podcast is US.

    Much of what you’ve suggested in this episode applies. The difference for us being we jumped in early on, into something that we knew was going to get crowded eventually.

    • http://DanielJLewis.net/about Daniel J. Lewis

      Great question! It’s great to be first, but, yes, at some point, you’ll feel like just one of the herd.

      Francisco’s point (recent comment) about reaching out and even helping the new podcasters is great. The main idea, I think, is to look for ways to create community, not competition—and I just so happen to have an episode about that! My thoughts were borne of the increasing “competition” I was seeing in the Once Upon a Time space.

    • http://www.stevehart.co.nz/ Steve Hart

      Hi Ben. Next time you get a bright idea don’t hesitate to launch it and start building the audience in the void.
      But plenty of shows come and go, it’s the people who stick with it that achieve success. Like the guy said: “overnight success only took 10 years…”.

  • Ben Avery

    I think it needs to be repeated — point #3 is super important, even if you are not talking about a niche. Just in general, as a podcaster, this needs to be recognized. Every voice has value. A voice may not appeal to some listeners, but your voice, and what you have to say, has value.

    • http://DanielJLewis.net/about Daniel J. Lewis

      Totally!

  • Francisco

    Great podcast as always Daniel! For our show, http://retrorewindpodcast.com, we have differentiated in the retro space by actually broadening what we cover to include both movies and video games (most retro-centric podcasts seem to only cover one of those, at least when we started), as long as they are 15+ years old.

    Like Ben though, I agree that point three plays a big part in what makes us different. The personality of the show as a whole is born out of the long-time friendship of me and my co-host Paul, and our equally long propensity to discuss movies and video games :). And echoing Ben again, it seems like more shows that cover multiple retro topics seem to have sprouted up, well after we started, but none of them are us, and we are even getting to help some of them, making us not only a show, but a resource too!

    • http://DanielJLewis.net/about Daniel J. Lewis

      That’s great, Francisco! I did something similar when I started seeing more Once Upon a Time podcasts, and now I have great relationships because of reaching out instead of snuffing them out.

      • Francisco

        Yes! Building relationships is way better long term, though it has been hard to put aside my pride at points when i see the other newer, hipper podcasts (with their complicated shoes) higher up in iTunes listings.

  • Michael Polston

    Great episode. There were some things touched on here that really struck a chord with me. After a year of doing my own niche podcast (youeightitpodcast.com), I have failed to find a significant audience and have gotten so exhausted and tired and burned out that i’ve decided to hang it up for now. On my show, my guest (male one week, female the next…no celebrities, just interesting people I know; scientists, pastors, musicians, comedians, and so on) and I read bits of randomly selected wikipedia articles and have a conversation about them. Each audio segment is set up like a pro wrestling match. We started off doing this 8 times per show, but that got to be an editing nightmare. Anyway, the blessing and the curse is, that the show is so niche that I could never figure out who to market it to. I joined all sorts of different forums, I tried to push it on wikipedia fan sites, comedy sites, podcast forums, wrestling forums, google plus, facebook, twitter, and on and on, and the number of downloads I got every week always depended on how many friends my guests have, sadly. The most downloads I ever got was 120, and that was because my guest was famous and I also bought advertising on facebook. My 5 or 6 dedicated listeners praised my evergreen content, no two episodes were the same, the topics were always fresh. And the show sounded good, the audio quality was a s good as I could get it recording in my apt full of concrete walls and hardwood floors. I used to spend 4 minutes for every one minute of content on editing, so on 3 hour episodes all I did for a week was edit so that I could hit my Sunday noon deadline. And with the exception of about 4 weeks, I never missed my deadline. By this time last month, I streamlined everything except for guests because let’s face it, people don’t like to call back sometimes. Sometimes people like to call while you’re waiting for them to show up to say they changed their minds. And sometimes, people even call after the fact to say “I thought I sounded dumb, please don’t put this out.” Most of the time, the guests left in better shape than they arrived in, so that was nice. People like to be heard. But I tried to find the happy medium. And I looked high and low for my audience, I asked people nicely to leave iTunes reviews, I gave them business cards, I sweet talked strangers on the internet…and I still lack an audience. My first episode was released on February 1, 2013. Now here I am a whole year and roughly 50 episodes later (some of those didn’t air). I don’t know what to do, but I do know I’m tired. The lesson I learned that I never hear people talk about, is that sometimes your show, no matter how much work you do, no matter how much time and love and money you sink into it, no matter how broad you try to be within your niche, sometimes your show is just not going to have an audience. And you’ll need to figure out a way to reconcile that. I could go on and on but I have to work on plans for my new show, which hopefully will be broad enough that people will find it more easily.

    • http://DanielJLewis.net/about Daniel J. Lewis

      Thank you for sharing, Michael!

      Yes, that’s tough and I can see how that would be hard. Could you really describe your show content in just one or two words? If not, then it may not be a specific niche.

      But you’re right that, sometimes, the content just isn’t appealing enough yet. I have an article coming out in the first issue of Podertainment, the podcasting magazine, that talks about not letting your content, presentation, or production hold you back from growing. One point I make in there is that sometimes, you just have to skip over content or even an idea for a whole show, just because it’s not high enough quality.

      Can you share what your new podcast will be about?

      • Michael Polston

        The show in two words: Random Wikipedia

        I’m not sure I believe the content isn’t appealing enough yet, because when people do find the show I get the “I can’t believe I’m just now finding out about this show” messages. Unfortunately those don’t exactly pour in, so maybe you’re right. Maybe that’s why.

        It would have been great to know which episodes to skip because they weren’t high enough in quality, but since I’m the only staff member here, I cannot begin to judge accurately which episodes those were. I can think of two episodes specifically that I did regret releasing that I got positive feedback on, which proves to me that I may not know what’s best, and it might not be any of my business to decide. How many fewer wonderful songs or paintings would there be in the world if every insecure artist held back pieces they were less proud of? I don’t for a second claim to be one of them, but sometimes the path is unclear and we just have to have faith. On the other side of that, I do typically edit 3 hour conversations down to 80 minutes though. I’m sure you of all people can relate to the Jeckyll and Hyde syndrome that podcasting can produce in our brain between productivity and creativity. I think you’ve even done episodes about it. I don’t know. Podcasting is so much more intricate and delicate than people realize. I could go on and on about it. I’ll be interested in reading your article, for sure.

        I’m actually starting on two new shows, one is a self help/motivational show meant to help people not let themselves be defined by their own perceived failures by using humor to overcome them, and the other we be a show about housewares.

        • http://www.stevehart.co.nz/ Steve Hart

          No wonder you are exhausted, editing 3 hours of chat to 80 minute shows. Not sure if there is any research on average listening times of podcasts, but I bet it’s less than an hour… Perhaps think ahead and only record what you need, and reduce your workload.

  • Corey Fineran

    Daniel, I think this is the best episode of TAP that you’ve done. I think it’s something that intimidates new podcasters, but it can also effect those of us that have been podcasting for quite a while. I’ve gone through periods where I felt lost in the mix and I have been able to change my mindset through a few of the points you made in this episode.

    Great episode.

    • http://DanielJLewis.net/about Daniel J. Lewis

      Wow. Thank you for that high praise!

      It is such an easy thing to do whenever we start something. “Is someone else already doing this?”

      I’m launching a new business service soon, even though I know others are doing the same thing. But I think I have more leverage to hit a homerun with it. (Do you like that I included a baseball metaphor to you?)

  • http://www.stevehart.co.nz/ Steve Hart

    Great podcast, enjoyed it a lot. What helps me in my fledgling show, in a very competative niche, is to think of it as a radio broadcast, I find it sharpens me up a little. I’m on show three and it is now being broadcast on two radio stations. One in the UK and one in New Zealand, opposite sides of the planet.

    • http://DanielJLewis.net/about Daniel J. Lewis

      How does thinking of it as a radio broadcast help? How, specifically, does that change your perspective?

      • http://www.stevehart.co.nz/ Steve Hart

        Hi Daniel.
        For me, there is a difference when someone sits you in a studio and says ‘record a podcast’ as opposed to ‘you’re live on the air’.
        Treating my podcast as a radio broadcast helps me think of the listener more. When recording the show the audience is front of mind, it brings a touch more formality to the show, discipline, its more ‘active’, increased structure and connection with the audience of one ( ie I am not talking to a crowd, but each listener individually).
        I take lessons from what I hear on talkback radio. The mindset works for me.

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