Note from Danny: This is a different kind of guest post. Fiona emailed me with a question, and I thought it might work really well as a guest post where everybody had a chance to weigh in. So please read through it, and leave a comment, letting Fiona know what you think!
Let me start by saying this is a different kind of blog post because I am not giving advice but asking for it.
I also hope to connect with people in the same boat, because I don’t think I’m alone.
They say that you can learn a lot from people’s bookshelves. The one in my office reflects my dilemma perfectly. Nassim Taleb’s The Black Swan props up The Divine Matrix by Gregg Braden. Margrit Coates’ Hands On Healing for Pets lies next to Chris Anderson’s The Long Tail. Marketing on the Internet is wedged between Putting the Tarot to Work and Horse Boy by Rupert Isaacson.
You can see the problem: I am a Multi Niche Person in search of solutions…
Focusing on the Problem
Thanks to studying my internet heroes like Jon Morrow, Derek Halpern and Seth Godin I have taken on board the need to understand your followers’ behavior, to be authentic and to bow down before the mighty King Content. I totally get that you need to be passionate about your topic. I know all about keywords and on and off-page SEO.
But then something stops me in my tracks: Being successful in cyberspace demands that you laser focus your niche and then some.
How do you choose when you have eclectic tastes and varied interests which encompass groups that are normally poles apart? Can the gap be bridged? Should it be bridged at all? Maybe there’s a gap there for a reason!
The internet is amazing because you find everything and everyone on it. No hobby is too weird, no topic too bizarre. But strange and unlikely subject matter has a downside: small audience numbers. It’s a vicious circle, you are preaching to the converted and unlikely to reach beyond your small and happy band of followers because no-one knows about you.
What do you do if you are no longer content to be a small scale on the dragon’s long tail but want to be up there sitting on its head and leaping in and out of its fiery mouth with the big brave boys and girls instead?
Pick a niche, but make sure it’s a big one.
Internet Marketing Rules (Oh Yeah)
Despite the pioneering nature of the internet I think it’s also quite conventional. Stereotypes abound as they do in the real world. Internet marketers follow the rules which, from what I have gleaned when not reading the tarot cards or trying to communicate telepathically with my dog, go as follows:
- Get a niche, write sparkling content that positively shimmers with authenticity and passion and is sprinkled with keywords painstakingly researched to uncover the gems that someone else has missed.
- Write in 16 pt font or larger, have lots of white space.
- Offer an e-book or e-course.
- Make sure it costs $19.97 or $97 anything ending with a 7 actually and has a very long sales letter. Add some frightening time constraints.
- Build a mailing list.
- Make a video to get up close and personal with your audience and put it on YouTube.
Because you have to have an audience, right?
Without an audience you might as well be writing a secret Five Year Diary in purple biro and locking it away in a drawer marked “For My Eyes Only.” So work that social network through Linked In and Digg, Google+, Twitter and Facebook.
(Subtly though, you’re there to make friends first and then people will think you are a Very Helpful Person and give you lots of work.)
And so it goes, exhaustingly, on.
Embrace Your True Self (As Long As You’re Famous)
Of course, once you have made it in the blogosphere (or anywhere else) you can get as weird as you want. This is known as “being authentic”. You are allowed to be authentic – as long as people know you for something else first. So follow the rules, make your name and then feel free talk about how you are a reincarnation of Shakespeare and write iambic pentameter in your pajamas.
Actor, singer, bodyguard and former professional American football player Rosey Grier could publish his groundbreaking Needlepoint for Men because he was – well – Rosey Grier.
British media mogul Simon Cowell is dotty about dogs and almost passed out with excitement when an irresistible hairy hound and his teenage owner won this year’s Britain’s Got Talent show. (Pudsey and Ashleigh if you are interested!) But we are interested in the juxtaposition of soppy animal lover and hard-nosed businessman because it’s Simon Cowell, not our next door neighbor.
Which brings me back to my dilemma. And probably a dilemma I share with at least some of you reading this.
I need your help because I’m not famous, I think I am sane and sensible, but with my ragbag of interests I feel odd and alone and need clever solutions and opinions which I know you can supply in spades.
Mad, Bad or Totally Cool?
I have an idea. A fledgling idea.
I want to combine business and marketing and tarot. I want to be hard-nosed with a soft center. I want to show the tarot world how to market online. But I also want to show the online marketers how using rather unconventional tools like tarot and visualization can help business.
I want to do this without being classed as a total halfwit. I want to bridge the gap with a sparkly wand and a briefcase.
So there. How’s that for authentic?
I should add that I use the tarot in a very practical way and there is no woo woo involved. (Well, not much.) In fact, to show you how practical it is, I drew six tarot cards to help me plan this post and am following said plan to the letter!
Anyway, I want to reach out to fellow sufferers who are not laser focused on one thing or a few related subjects but are more da Vinci types with eclectic interests. Who bounce from topic to topic faster than a pinball machine on speed. Who accept focusing on one subject at a time as readily as an octopus takes to a straitjacket.
Long ago, Renaissance men (and women) were admired for the breadth of their interests and the vast scope of their skills. In today’s Internet world it’s all about focus and niche.
What are we to do? Cave in and accept the artificial left brain/right brain, arts/science, entrepreneur /spiritual seeker divisions or fight back?
I need your advice. Am I mad or inspired? Am I alone?
Fiona Tankard is a British writer, trainer and tarot professional who has lived in Italy since 1997. Her working life changed with the arrival of the Internet, which she totally adores. Her sites Spidery Writing, Tarot Can Help and Pets In Italy reflect her eclectic interests. She tries hard to put as many internet marketing techniques into practice as she can but still has some way to go. She has not gone cross niche. Yet…