Note: This is part 1 of a 3-part series about creating. I’ll use the topic of writing since that’s what I know, but the lessons can be extrapolated to any form of art. We’ll cover Ideas (today), Burnout (next Monday), and Validation (next Thursday).
Idea generation is a topic that comes up pretty regularly amongst bloggers and would-be bloggers.
“Do you ever run out of things to write about?”
My Writing Process
I write most of my posts a little bit in advance because I write them whenever I feel inspired to write them. Then I schedule them with the WordPress scheduler. As I’ve mentioned before, the majority of my writing isn’t for this blog, so sometimes my scheduled post days come upon me out of nowhere.
“Whoa, it’s 4am Eastern and post time is at 7:11am … how did that happen?”
(I’ve still never written about why I set most of my posts to run at 7:11. It’s not superstition, and the truth is I don’t think it’s even worth writing about.)
I’ve consciously created my life to be as stress-less and enjoyable as possible, but it seems this would be a stressful situation to put myself in. It’s not.
The Definition of Definition
On the one hand, I don’t have a well defined niche like Corbett (help small businesses get more traffic), Baker (sell your crap, do what you love), Everett (minimalism), Pat (passive income) or Leo (simplicity).
On the other hand, I get to write about whatever I want. That’s why I never have a problem writing an article here at Ridiculously Extraordinary, even if I have to write it at the last minute.
(Actually, some of my most trafficked/commented/facebook shared/stumbled/tweeted articles were all last minute articles.)
Some of you have read my Evergreen Niches Report dissecting the best niches to go after if you’re starting a small business. I recommend you only choose one, but my blog and premium products cover all of the niches. (OK, there’s only 1 premium product right now, but as you can see in the sidebar, 2 in the pipeline.)
From a marketing standpoint this is dumb and I don’t recommend it. It’s difficult to brand this blog and Baker has even asked me a million times to define what this site is about.
My tag line sucks: Freedom, Health, Travel, Life. What does that mean? How much more vague can I possibly be?
For a guy who has studied marketing for so many years I should know better.
And yet, even with all of that working against me, it’s working.
I fully admit I stole this from Tim Ferriss. Before starting this blog I thought to myself, “I don’t care if he’s a NYT best selling author, if he can write about whatever he wants and be successful, so can I.”
How To Define Your Niche (And Should You Even Bother?)
There are a couple of easy ways to define your niche:
1) Define it yourself.
Matt did it fantastically with No Meat Athlete. There is absolutely no questioning what the site is about. Matt’s a veg athlete and he writes for others who either are veg or considering it.
Kenny has done it with Me vs MJ – My Journey To Jordan Camp. It’s targeted to basketball fans, but with a personal story and helpful articles which non-basketball fans can connect with as well.
2) Ask your readers (once you have a decent amount) to define it for you via a reader survey.
When a new visitor hits your site and doesn’t know what it’s about they probably won’t stick around unless you’re incredibly compelling.
Here’s the fun part about defining your niche: you can actually still write about almost whatever you want, no matter what niche you’re in!
For example, Baker’s blog is ManVsDebt.com, but does he stick to the same boring personal finance topics as other personal finance bloggers? Not a chance.
And to go back to the MeVsMJ.com example: does Kenny only write about basketball? Not exactly, but everything he writes about has the common thread of basketball worked into it.
It might take a little bit more work, but you can tweak almost any topic you’d like to write about into your defined niche.
Defining Your Niche Actually Makes It Easier To Generate Ideas
Defining your niche also instantly gives visitors something to connect with.
When all your synapses are firing on a common goal, the ideas just don’t stop.
What you may find is ideas may come at inopportune times, but instead of getting pissed, embrace it. Some days I write 3 articles for this blog and then go another week without writing another one. Some weeks I write 10 articles and then never post any of them. :)
If I’m inspired to create, I create, no matter what else is going on.
I discussed that concept in The Absolute Idiot’s Guide To Inspiration.
Define your niche and don’t stifle inspiration and I guarantee you won’t have trouble generating ideas.
How You Helped Clarify My Niche
I asked in a survey a few months ago what you thought this site was about and the answers were incredibly varied.
From a marketing standpoint that’s not good.
But most of the answers had one element that told me I’m on the right track: “inspiring.”
Ridiculously Extraordinary is about minimalism. Because that is what I am at the core.
It’s about entrepreneurship. Because I’ve been entrepreneurial my whole life
It’s about doing what you want, and doing what you love. Because that’s what I do.
It’s about kicking ass and thinking for yourself. Because I follow exactly that.
It’s about questioning everything and everyone. Because I’ve learned the hard way that that is the only way to make it.
But it all boils down to this: Ridiculously Extraordinary is about inspiration. You inspire me and my goal is to inspire you. Inspiration is my niche.
And because of that simple fact, I have a fire lit under my ass when it comes time to write here. I hope whatever you decide to do that you’ll have this same fire lit under your ass as well.
On Monday we’ll cover How To Extinguish Burnout (plus 7 Guaranteed Burnout Busters).
It will focus on these common questions (and more):
“Do you ever feel like not writing?”
“Do you ever just want to quit?”
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