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 Podcasting—Dave 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.
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?
Brief overview of media hosting and LibSyn's change
There are many different models of media hosting: “rolling storage,” “monthly reset storage,” “limited storage,” and “unlimited storage.” I recently explained each of these hosting models and compared the top podcast media hosts.
LibSyn is my top recommendation (use promo code “noodle” for a free month) and they recently announced that they're changing from “rolling storage” to what I call “monthly reset storage.” This means your upload allotment will reset on the first day of each month, instead of the confusing 30-day method for each file you upload.
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This post may contain links to products or services with which I have an affiliate relationship and may receive compensation from your actions through such links. However, I don't let that corrupt my perspective and I don't recommend only affiliates.