When you start looking into marketing your writing, whether it’s selling a book, a blog or an article, you’ll frequently come across this advice: “Find your niche. Decide what you’re going to focus on, what you’d like to be known for. Write your way into that niche and stay there.”
But do you really need to have a niche? And when do you know that you’re ready to commit to one?
I resisted the idea of a niche for a long time. In fiction, I’ve written sweeping historical novels, but I’ve also written quirky young adult books. I’ve produced disparate short stories about an Amish teenager, an exercise bulimic, and a Christmas cookie baking party. I even made a brief foray into horror with a story about a woman six weeks postpartum who discovers her child isn’t what she thought. I’m interested in reading different genres; what’s wrong with wanting to write different genres?
Then there’s the daunting task of actually choosing that niche. For two years on this very website, I dipped and dabbled, experimented with writing about parenting, cancer, time management, and even existential concepts like fear and gratitude. (See “Ye Olde Posts” on the sidebar Categories drop-down for all these subjects.) I enjoyed the variety, but eventually came to understand that some of that shunned advice was correct: it was hard to attract new visitors to the blog when they didn’t know what it was about, and the new readers who did visit often didn’t visit twice, because my next topic might not interest them. Readers need to know what to expect if you want them to come back.
After those two years, I finally figured out the secret to niche writing. [Read more…]