So I think that I should be finding my niche. The interesting thing about this particular task is how in the process of finding your unique corner of the universe you are routinely confronted with the need to simplify your uniqueness into a recognizable category. And recognizable categories are, in fact, not unique, as you may have realized. So there is some tension there.
At the same time, I think there is a legitimate concern that the combination of photography and advocacy, with a dash of theology mixed in, might be a little too unique to constitute a recognizable brand– a simple place for people to find some specific kind of value. When we go out and give our attention to something we use our past experience with a thing to inform our expectation and when those expectations are met or exceeded then we continue to invest our time attention in that thing. The scattered or disorganized brand is a mistake, but I say that with a caveat that perhaps the organization can be something different and perhaps a bit more complex than we’re familiar with.
What is Casey Neistat’s brand? He stands for NYC, Electric Skateboards, Travel, Video Production, Drones, Running, Sunglasses, Collaboration, and the list could potentially go on. That’s not a simple brand, yet somehow what he’s doing works. I’m not sure that other people have found the same kind of acceptance for their diversity. Maybe that’s because Casey has figured out how to theme-afi his endeavors. He has “mail time” and he puts an electric skateboard sequence into many of his videos. NYC is in every video, pretty much. He’s always wearing those sunglasses. He runs in at least in one in every four videos. He’s diverse, but consistent, and intense. The stuff he’s into, he’s really into. Perhaps that’s the solution to the puzzle. But Casey is unique, there’s no other personality on YouTube that I trust to tell me a quick entertaining/enlightening story as much as him. He’s got something special.
And back to the topic of niching myself– photography (perhaps a specific kind of photography) is the easy and predictable solution. I have invested a lot in this, and it’s an undeniable passion of mine. I also live in the beautiful Palouse region where I can make amazing landscape photographs by taking just a short drive. Maybe photography is the niche I need to dig into, with my own special version of it from my own special region and perspective. I tend to feel like there’a already a lot of photographers pursuing niches in this space, but that might be a perception clouded by my own proximity to the situation. I am, after all, tuned to photography resources because it is a passion.
Another potential niche is advocacy. I am a domestic abuse advocate, and I devote regular time and effort into helping people stuck in destructive relationships. As much as I find the work I do here fulfilling, this is not a topic I regularly seek out on my own. This is a topic that circumstances and the love of my life, my wife, Claire is driving. I am with her, but it’s not a topic that I can own all on my own, if I’m completely honest. I care about it, but not enough to pour my effort into it apart from that life story and her passion.
Another potential niche is biblical scholarship/theology. I have found great fulfillment in pursuing this over the years. Yes, this is partially an ought-motivated passion that comes from my religious commitments and loyalties, but I do find the rich literary and philosophical theology of the Bible fascinating and vital. Understanding and studying the Bible is a genuine passion of mine, and I could pursue a niche there, although I again feel as though there are many already pursuing this niche, thereby making it much less niche-like.
Other more specific niches include, traveling (especially to Italy), 360 photography, a deep love of boots, the art of married sex, economy and efficiency in everyday life, reform of the Christian church, technology (almost anything related), economics, natural resource production (farming, timber, mining), parenting, value-for-money reviews (of almost anything), and rural mid-western roots. And this list is not complete at all.
There are a lot of niches to chose from. I’ve always suffered from an excess of interest in an excess number of things, so that shows up here too. I can think of so many things I’d like to do and focus on that I end up not focusing on any of them. That makes me want to add the category of “generalist” to my potential niches, but that is oxymoronic.
I think I’m waiting for a sign from God. Meanwhile, I’ll keep practicing my writing, and go on scattershot blogging, continuing to look for that diving hint that I should focus on this or that other thing, and pursue a niche.