It is common among bloggers and writers to feel pressured to fit into a certain niche. We are told to define the topic or realm we will focus on and write only things related to it. This makes sense when the goal is to grow your audience and platform, but those are two words writers hate to think about.
I have struggled with this for years, because I’ve never felt like I fit perfectly into one realm or that I want to write things solely based on one topic. I love reading and books, but I also love hiking and the outdoors. I love discussing Christian life and faith, but I also think it’s important to engage culture with our ears open to other perspectives. I know that I could pick one and I would probably be more successful at growing my audience around that specific world.
But, as you may have noticed, that isn’t what I’ve chosen to do. You may have started following this blog after reading an article I tagged as travel, or one related to books, or perhaps it was one about faith. If you only want to read about one of those topics, I suggest you find a different blog. My feelings won’t be hurt.
However, if you want to step outside your normal boundaries and dare to dip your toes in different rivers, I can promise you one thing: all those rivers eventually converge. No topic is exclusive or isolated from others. The book world, the outdoors world, the Christian world, and the cultural world all have valuable things to share with each other. They can also all be affected by the same things while simultaneously offering different perspectives.
The recent earthquake in Nepal showed me this. I follow a number of magazines and cultural sources on Facebook, meaning my newsfeed includes daily updates from the leading sources on outdoor recreation, Christian thought, books, writing, and popular culture. After the tragedy in Nepal, each one had a different perspective to offer.
I read about how avalanches had left several climbers and mountain guides stranded at the base camp of Everest.
I read about ministries providing emergency care and support in Jesus’ name, as well as how we can view God in the wake of devastation.
I read about writers from the area and the books they had written about Nepal’s delicate civil and social balance.
And I read about the United States citizens who were there and how communities from their home towns rallied in remarkable ways to provide comfort and support for the family.
To be fair, these stories were all written with a specific audience in mind, and they each intentionally told the story from their own angle. We need writers who can do this. But that’s not the kind of writer I am, and that’s because I know one of my favorite things is to learn about someone else’s niche, and sharing those worlds with others.
I recently started asking people the following ice-breaker question: “What topic or random hobby (outside your job) do you know a surprising amount about?”
You would be shocked by the answers. I have a coworker who knows everything about Legos. I know someone who is well-versed in antique thrifting. I heard about a suburban mom who goes to every rodeo within reach. And I have a friend who can name almost any plant you walk by. The best part about all of those things: you would never guess it just by looking at them.
I love hearing about these things, where it all started, why they keep at it, and the random trivia they can share about a world that previously existed outside my radar.
Because of this, I like to think that people don’t always want to read within the same genre. We need to learn about areas outside our immediate interests and the place those things occupy in our world. Once we open ourselves up to that curiosity, we may surprise ourselves by learning things that connect to our own small worlds as well.
If anything, I can say my topic and realm is that of questions, raising them and answering them through experience. Thankfully, that means I can never run out of material.
What’s that? You want to know my random niche that I know a lot about? Check back tomorrow to find out :)
What topic or hobby do you know a lot about?