📊 ClassNotes 016: What a niche is and is not

📊 ClassNotes 016: What a niche is and is not
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Today, I want you to understand niches like no one else does so that you can start winning like no one else can. 

Rewind for a minute back to elementary school when you learned about ecosystems. 

Ecosystems are “complex networks” where “plants, animals, and other organisms, as well as weather and landscapes, work together to form a bubble of life.”  

modern ecosystem image
Modern, minimalist ecosystem. Made with DALL·E 3.

Niches are ecosystems. Individual bubbles of life.

Most of us would believe that choosing a niche is like playing a game of balloon darts at the carnival. We aim, throw, pop our target, and win a prize.

But that’s not how it works.

When you choose a niche, you enter an ecosystem of interconnected ideas, players, needs, and solutions. We win by finding our place within that ecosystem.

circles chart showing software popularity
Visual representation of the popularity of the most used website builder software tools. Designed by Ilya

The best way I can illustrate this is with website builders. Weird choice, I know… but stay with me.

Every technology on our chart represents a successful niche. And every one of these niches sustains an ecosystem within.

Take Ghost or Kajabi for example.

  • They represent some of the smallest circles on our chart and yet empower tens of thousands of creators to build online businesses.
  • Each company employs teams of people to keep the tech working.
  • Around each tool, there are armies of independent designers, developers, and strategists who earn their living by helping people win with that specific platform.
  • Take another step out, and you'll find an even bigger pool of graphic designers, writers, social media managers, and more who all support the people in and around the Ghost and Kajabi ecosystems.

Ghost is its own niche. As is Kajabi.

Do you see why even small niches can feel competitive? Because there’s an internal ecosystem at work. A flow of people and resources all working to support one another and make their bubble of life the best it can be.

Every niche has opportunity since every ecosystem has gaps to fill. And your ability to accurately identify those gaps relies on becoming a part of that ecosystem.

If you don’t understand how it works, and if you have not been invited in, you will fail. Not because your ideas or work or effort were wrong. But because the ecosystem rejected you.

How to get accepted by your niche

I know the whole idea of "being accepted" goes against every creator economy narrative of there being no gatekeepers and such. But the reality is, if you want to win big, then you need to play nice with others. 

The more others see you as a benefit not only to their business but to their specific ecosystem, the more you will win individually as a result.

Here are 3 ways to do that:

  1. Out-give. Build something that others usually charge for and give it away for free. This is a surefire way to make friends (and enemies) right out of the gate. The caveat is that your free thing really does have to be as good as, if not better than, what people are paying for.
  2. Out-last. Some people win through sheer stubbornness. If you can stay consistent for years, while other major figures wax and wane, the niche audience will have no choice but to trust you because you've established yourself as a staying force.
  3. Shine a light. Why do so many blogs, podcasts, and YouTube channels talk about the same collection of successful people? Because it’s the simplest way to signal that you’re a part of their world. I’ve even done it with a few of these newsletter editions. Choose the circles you want to run in and create great content highlighting their wins.

The magic happens once you're in. That's when you see the opportunities others can't because you did the work others wouldn't. 

1. You don't choose a niche; you enter it.
2. Traction is a byproduct of participation.
3. Nobody wins alone.

In two weeks, I'll show you why repetition is the secret sauce to winning online by unraveling My First Million's content strategy.

— David

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