Not so long ago, most information available to the public was broad, sweeping, and highly generic. Writers who compiled that information tended to have to write about large topics in lowest-common-denominator terms. A writer might buy a book on how to write, but not on how to market an article. Parents bought books about raising their children, not specifically coping with autism.
The Internet changed a lot of things in our culture, including creating a flurry of interest in very narrow topics. Visit the web and you can find out how to market your article on video games to a gaming website or how to talk to your child’s teacher about his recently diagnosed Asperger’s syndrome.
If TV brought to us the concept of broadcasting, then the Internet is responsible for the concept of narrow-casting, that is, fine-tuning information to appeal to very small but specific segments of the public.
So what does that mean for an enterprising writer? It means that expertise and writing projects that once would have been roundly rejected can now not only find utility and purpose, they can actually be sold.
Here’s how it works.
This is based on the assumption that you (like everyone else) have particular in-depth knowledge of many subjects. Whether it’s catching feral cats, raising orchids, deep-frying turkey, paying down credit card debt, opening a daycare center, or explaining how pacemakers work, most of us can’t get through life without acquiring some very in-depth knowledge about some very narrow subjects.
If you can’t think of what you might know in-depth consider your education, your jobs, your friends, your hobbies, and projects you’ve been involved with through your family, friends, and clubs.
Don’t worry if this information is too obscure or too off-the-beaten path. Just start to accumulate a list.
If you’re a writer, you’re also likely to be an able researcher, so you can fill in gaps in your knowledge of fly fishing or recommending cures for snoring. You can even get expertise in a whole new area by talking to experts how internet changed education and conducting your own online research.
In the Internet world, each of these subjects is called a niche. Many niches are actively sought by Internet denizens who are out trolling constantly for information.
Take celebrity sites. There are always legions of Internet people seeking the latest news on Britney Spears. Now raise your sites a little more. There are also people eager to get new quilting patterns, learn to speak Portuguese, find a great vacation getaway in Italy, or write a killer resume.
Each of those is a niche. As a writer, you can develop what are called information products to serve that niche. For example, take the niche of job seekers. An electronic book or e-book on resume writing might appeal to them. You might also write about some unusual job search tactics, how to shine in a job interview, and finding jobs that aren’t advertised.