Looking for your Niche? Avoid the lists

Whenever I have an open ended question where I don’t know where to start I usually do what any millennial, recent college graduate (I wish), or self-respecting marketer would do.

I Google it.

A big buzz phrase that I keep hearing, especially around my strategic/creative networks, is all about finding your niche or your white space. Niche I understood, that one was covered in Marketing 101. But if you’re like me then white space was a new-ish one until recently. My 4 glorious years of education helped me to reason out that we were looking for somewhere without color or an area that hadn’t been explored. Check.

So how do I find my white space/niche. Fire up the Google.

Somehow, and this is just me floundering in the dark here, I feel like if there are dozens upon dozens of articles about finding your Niche and White Space then maybe looking online isn’t the right place.

A golden rule I’ve always lived by as a young marketing professional is that if you’re looking for a creative idea, something that has never been done before, you can’t be looking online or on social for it. The internet is a cumulation of ideas, thoughts, beliefs, videos, and information by the boatload of OTHER peoples uniqueness. You can, and should, use it to validate your idea eventually once you get to it to see if it’s a unique and special flower. But only then.

That would mean that I would probably avoid the “Finding Your Niche in 20mins or Less” etc. articles. If it was that easy to be unique and awesome then wouldn’t we all be doing it everyday? Wouldn’t we have amazing inventions and be living on Pluto (#goals) by now? Hell if it was that easy I would definitely have started a few businesses by now, made a couple million, and become a full time travel blogger with a niche white space view on the world.

Initially this was triggered by a LinkedIn message I received. It’s not the first time someone has asked me this either. They asked if I would ever consider entrepreneurship or starting my own business. Sure. I would love to. But I don’t believe that I could just sit at my desk come come up with groundbreaking business altering ideas that would make it worth getting into that field. Those ideas are a dime a dozen and to make it in todays business world you really need a niche idea/product/service to differentiate yourself from the existing marketplace.

Side thought. Have I begun epidemic of giving advice about finding your niche/white space by writing an online article about niche/white spaces? #Inception #PlotTwist

My solution is data. I’ll say it 11 more times for dramatic effect. Data. Data. Data. Data. Data. Data. Data. Data. Data. Data. Learn to love it. Learn to read it. Learn to digest it. Learn to hate it. And learn to read between its lines. Just like I actually only listed the word data 10 times instead of 11. CONSTANT VIGILANCE.

This isn’t just related to business opportunities or marketing ideas. How about professional development? AKA cover letters. LinkedIn Profiles, and resumes? There are tens of thousands of candidates out there who are all reading the same exact guides on 25 Resume Tips To Get You Hired On The Spot. Yet I still hear of students graduating without jobs? See what these lists are saying, read between the lines, see what your competition is doing, research hundreds of job descriptions, draw some lines, find out what makes you unique and different, google to see if you’re the only one, if you’re not go back to the drawing board. Do this until you come up with a market position that someone can’t refuse.

Unique niche opportunities and white space moments are found in the small dark crevices of big data. Research the hell out of something you’re passionate about. Print out pictures. Play audio clips on repeat. Go on the street and ask random strangers. Write sticky notes. Get some twine. Make some connecting lines. Trust me, it’ll come to you. Go out and live your life and experience some new and exciting things. That’ll help you find your white space in something you enjoy and are passionate about. But it won’t be on the internet in 5 Steps You Can Use To Find Your Niche.

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