Although it can be interesting to produce a wide variety of stuff and work in lots of different genres, it can also be useful to have your own “niche” in each of the areas that you work in.
In business, this is referred to as a “unique selling point” and it’s basically the one thing that you can do which no-one else can really do quite as well. But, well, I’m not really a business expert – so this article will just focus on the creative side of all of this.
What this means is that, if someone wants something that fits into your niche, then you’re the only one who can provide it. This is, of course, something of a double-edged sword because – if you’re niche is popular, then you’ll have a large audience. But, if it isn’t, then you won’t.
So, as a precaution against this, it can be useful to either find a way to make your niche appeal to a wider audience (eg: if you’re a ukelele player, then maybe record the occasional cover version of a rock/pop song or possibly even a retro computer game theme tune) or to occasionally produce things that are aimed at a more general audience.
Likewise, if you’re an artist- then your niche might even be something as simple as the art style that you use, the colour schemes you use regularly in your art, the picture size you use etc….
Despite this, it can be useful to know what your “niche” (even if you have more than one) is for the simple reason that most of the best things that you will ever create will probably fit into it in some way or another.
The thing is that it can take a while to find your niche – since there isn’t usually anything else quite like it in the world to look at for reference. Generally speaking, your niche will often be a unique combination of the best elements of your favourite things – but not always. Sometimes it can be something that will even catch you by surprise.
But, the only real way to learn what it is, is to keep writing, drawing etc… for however long it takes until you eventually end up with something that is distinctively “yours”.
Not only that, it’s perfectly ok for your niche to change over time as you discover new things and grow as a writer and/or artist. For example, although I don’t write that much fiction these days, my writing niche has changed quite a bit over the past decade or so.
When I was about sixteen or seventeen, my main “niche” was writing 19th century-style detective and horror fiction. But, by the time I was about twenty or twenty-one, my niche had changed to writing what can only be described as darkly comedic cyberpunk and/or surreal detective horror fiction.
So, it takes time to discover what your niche is. Research can help too – for example, it was only when I was in my early 20s that I really started to read a lot of very cool (and, more importantly, very influential) novels like “Lost Souls” by Poppy Z. Brite, “Crooked Little Vein” by Warren Ellis and “Tank Girl: Armadillo!” by Alan C. Martin which helped me to both find my niche and develop my own writing style.
Plus, at the end of the day, having a niche isn’t the be-all and end-all of being an artist or a writer. Yes, over time, most people will eventually find their niche – but you can still be fairly successful even if you haven’t found yours yet. So, if it comes down to a choice between producing good stuff and worrying that you need to find your niche before you can produce anything – then just produce good stuff. You’ll find your niche eventually.
Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂