May 9, 2021

Why You Need A Niche

This is the twenty-first in a series of short essays I wrote as part of the Ship 30 for 30 program. You can read all thirty essays here.

A decade ago, Eric Schmidt famously said that we now create more information every two days than had previously existed in human history before 2003. That’s insane.

The world is evolving so fast that it’s impossible to keep up with everything. Try, and you will immediately be buried in an avalanche of information.

Nobody can be all-knowing. To make any headway, you need to specialise and go narrow and deep. Otherwise, you will get pulled in a million directions at once and go nowhere.

To succeed, you must pick a niche – a space where you can keep up with the latest developments and become a key player. It’s better to be a big fish in a small pond.

That may sound limiting, but it’s actually freeing. Once you operate within a manageable space, you can develop a level of understanding and a skill set that serves as a jumping-off point to explore other areas.

Good non-fiction authors don’t try to be an authority on their subject or write a definitive article. They will pick a small element of it, such as an individual person, business, or community, and use it as a lens to explore a bigger topic. They go narrow and deep.

This is particularly important for anyone trying to establish themselves online. For example, try to become a prominent figure in something as big as the professional development space, and you will get drowned out. But if you niche down and aim to be known in a narrower field, such as early career development for law school graduates in the US, you might start getting somewhere.

Robert Heinlein once said specialisation is for insects. But, as the world becomes more fragmented, the way to get ahead is to pick a niche and specialise in it.