I often suffer from a problem commonly known as “paralysis of analysis.” 2008 has been a year in which I have become keenly aware of this little impediment of mine. During the first couple of days of 2008 I made the decision to start implementing ideas for an online business that I put on hold indefinitely as a result of Hurricane Katrina. Before Hurricane Katrina hit I was in the planning stages of launching an online business. I had not settled down on an approach yet but I was doing a lot of research at the time trying to determine the best approach to take. The more I read and studied the trends on the internet during that time period (2004-2005) and explored the possible types of websites that I could lend my talents to I realized that I would probably end up with a network of sites due to my wide variety of interests.
The first webpage I developed was around 1996. It was a site to develop my graphic design business that never got any further than the planning stages. Afterward “real life” intervened and sucked me into the rat race of trading all of my time for money. This formula is O.K. but it certainly has its flaws. Twelve years later and I’m still in the starting blocks of my online business life. This year I decided to step out there and do something. I read a number of books, articles, and blogposts which cemented in my mind the idea of taking my skills, talent, experience and work ethic online to carve out a niche for myself. In order to carve out a niche for yourself in today’s Web 2.0 environment you have to choose a niche to specialize in. Well this is according to most of the current leaders in the world of online business models. I found myself faced with a little dilemma due to the fact that I had so many areas of interests that I couldn’t figure out how exactly to narrow down to one particular niche to explore.
No Need To Choose Just 1 Niche To Start:
I have continuously taken small steps in spite of my reluctance to delve into any stretch of producing large amounts niche specific content. I’m adverse to the idea of overworking myself. Steve Pavlina, one of today’s Personal Development Gurus, dealt with this issue last week and it allowed me to recognize the fact that I don’t have to choose any one particular niche. That’s not to say that I won’t have to choose one to dump the most amount of effort into if I want to be successful with my venture into the world of online business and website development. If I am to reap any rewards from the effort put into this business then I will have to establish myself as one of the go to guys in a specific area. I know that I can be the go to guy in a couple of different areas and that is where the problem of “paralysis of analysis” comes into play. I often fall into the trap of over thinking situations which generally have simple solutions in a futile attempt to solve problems once and for all. Some problems don’t exist to be solved permanently. The problem I face with not being able to narrow down and choose one niche is one such problem.
Choosing A Niche vs. A Niche Choosing You:
There are numerous ways to look at this fundamental aspect of staying relevant as well as competitive in today’s quickly changing online environment. There are a number of ways to approach this problem:
· You can start multiple blogs or websites dedicated to each area of interest or niche that you feel compelled to explore. This can create a workload that’s difficult to manage if you spread yourself too thin trying to stay ontop of developments in multiple fields. If you choose this approach then it is a good idea to limit yourself to 3 or possibly 4 websites to develop in this manner. You will have a hard time defining each voice for each topic and can lead to more trouble than its worth. The upside is that you can measure the response from readers in that specific niche and refine your approach and grow yourself into a leader in whichever niche takes off for you the quickest.
· You can focus on one general blog or website covering a number of areas of interests until you find the topics that are the most fun for you to stay motivated to cover and also the areas which can be the most popular with your readers. The only problem with this approach is that you may not readily be able to define yourself as an expert in one particular area but you can at least establish your presence and overall knowledge of multiple subject matters.
· If you have related niche topics that you can combine to develop fresh and relevant content that can be presented and marketed to a wider audience because of the varied areas that interest you.
Unfortunately I am a fan of all three approaches and this is part of my problem. I overload on information all the time and end up being less productive as a result. I read about several approaches to solve a problem then combine my own insight into solving the problem and end up not doing enough in the way of implementation. Its not enough to have brilliant ideas or even to come up with a solution to a particular problem if you cannot implement it or at the very least develop a way to share the solution with others. Even if you choose not to choose a specific niche then you at least have to choose an approach to developing your online business to determine what works and what doesn’t. The approach that I am choosing as of today is to develop this site which deals specifically with self discovery and self improvement as a general site covering a broad array of topics with the hope of discovering which areas of interests yield the largest reward on a personal and monetary level. This is a business you know, “you ain’t gone too far to see that huh?”
Wading through possible topics/ areas of interests:
I would like to take a little time to explore some of the possible topics that I will be exploring here over the next few months in an attempt to determine which ones will get the most attention.
This is a topic that has definitely been oversaturated and has its share of experts. The beautiful thing about the online business environment is that it is constantly changing and evolving. The internet appears to have no borders. We have all endured the internet bubble so we know that it does have limits. It still lures investors in with the potential the internet has combined with other emerging technologies and the great possibility of changing the world. I am an idealist and happen to think that we can all evolve further into the future by embracing the internet first. This allows us to communicate more effectively and share vital information which could enable us to save one another’s lives.
You are living through a time where the way we interact with one another has just morphed into something that we could only imagine growing up. Virtual worlds can be created online for you to participate in. Can’t you see the latest online version of SIMS? You can build a community that could interact in a virtual city in almost real time. I have this thought and really a challenge to the video game or internet designers to develop the kind of environment online that you can move about in this virtual environment or city online and which allows us to interact via internet connection. Online communities and social networking in general still has a lot of potential for development. You could also build a community around a theme. The possible theme I’d like to build around this site is people sharing things which really changed or impacted their life in a positive way.
This one is almost as broad as covering the internet itself as your niche. And depending on the topic, of which there are too many to count, you could turn this niche area in to a money making machine because of the price mark-up potential of selling what you know. The overhead is very low and is shrinking as we move toward more forms of digital media. The only danger is the lure to get into the area of How to Make Money with Info Marketing. This area never gets old because if you make money in any area of Info Marketing it will lend cedribility to you as an authority in this competitive field.
Study Of Underground Cultures In America:
I just came up with this one so that I could make my overall list of themes shorter by combining a few into this broader category as sub-categories. It also happens to be the actual theme for a website that we have been developing with a team of techs in their area of expertise to bring something very special into existence. I’ll report more on this development as it grows and inform you of how you can help with the development.
Some of the sub-categories in this category include:
- Afro-Punk / Punk Music
- Reggae / Dancehall
- Art (even more sub-cats)
- Poetry World
Obviously there are several other sub-categories as but these are just a few to kind of establish the feel of the website. It would be open to further participation and will be encouraging participants to lend their expertise similarly to the way users do within the Wikipedia and Knol communities.
Life Coach / Personal Development:
This is currently the only real theme associated with this site so far. I have been blessed to be on both sides of a number of Life’s lessons. I’ve benefited by receiving numerous lessons about life which I can share to enable someone else to get through a tough time in their life. I’ve been a student of Self-Improvement for about 15 years now. The subject is infinite and rewarding in any stage of your commitment to this endeavor. You would have to read a small excerpt from the Art of War to understand the understated expertise I have in this area. Of course I the world of internet marketing if you don’t promote yourself you may not get promoted at all. I’ve been guilty of not wanting to have to promote myself but I have lived long enough to understand that sometimes the only way to get the word out about yourself, your product or service is to tell(& preferably show) the world yourself. Steve Pavlina is definitely doing a great job covering this area but there is always room for another perspective.
This one is similar to the previous category. We have been involved with this one for a number of years especially if you are raising children. There is always a shortage in this area. At least there is in the Black and poorer commnunities around the world. If you want to make an impact on the world around you and possibly earn a living by doing so this niche is a real possibility. Combining Youth Mentoring through the utilization of the internet with other modern learning/teaching tools you could establish yourself as a necessary component of the development of human species.
There are several areas for opportunity in this area. If you bring enough passion you could carve out a place for yourself as many of the larger organizations are forced to downsize considerably due to the financial crisis facing America. Smaller organizations will be able to benefit by providing specific services to the community and being passionate about the delivery of that service. The community is thirsty for help in so many different areas that as long as you are delivering a service that you love you can rest assured that somebody will need and want your help. Take for example a fine artist like Jamar Pierre of www.neworleansredhot.com who dedicated much of his talent and teaching skills to the young people of New Orleans through a number of other larger organizations. Some of these organizations struggle but he is still serving the community with the service.
I could talk about various aspects of starting, operating and growing a small business. Small businesses represent the backbone of America and are needed to offset the high unemployment rates that have been gripping us during this economic meltdown we are facing as a country. This topic is only appealing from the angle of covering online businesses. Is it obvious that I don’t want anything to do with offline businesses (include link to Steve) for a while? The principles that I’ve learned from running offline businesses are universal. I cannot wait to apply them effectively to the online business environment. Of course that’s why I’m posting this anyway; to explore the possible niches for sustainable online businesses.
Video Games / Online Gaming:
You caught me. In addition to being an information junky I am also a video game addict. I don’t think there is much hope in trying to save me from my addiction though. I can control it by not allowing it to monopolize my existence but I cannot shake video games from my realm completely. I limit my video game life somewhat to avoid suffering the consequences of not having anything else to live for except gaming. Its not the worst of things that could happen to me but it is a frightening possibilities considering the great games that are available to choose from today. This one holds infinite possibility for exposure and I have enough interests in this area to revisit for subject matter every day. This one is a prime candidate for further development.
Social Networking / Web 2.0:
Occasionally I experiment with different areas of social networking just to stay in touch with the developments in this area. I remember researching Myspace right after Huricane Katrina just to see what the hype was all about back then. It was still in the early stages and wasn’t nearly what it is today. 6 months later my daughter began using it with all of her friends (I’m ahead of the curve). And about 2 weeks ago my wife finally set up a page. I don’t get carried away because of the great amount of time social activities can drain without much ROI. The blogosphere has blown up over the last couple of years and in the beginning I couldn’t imagine a good reason to start a “traditional blog” or what my perception of what a blog was back then. I thought that it was something to publish a diary of my life which seemed a little to close to reality TV for the internet. There are several ways to share with the world without giving up all of your privacy and today’s future consumer are all used to living their life publicly and expect a level of transparency from everyone as a result.
Rebuilding New Orleans Post-Katrina:
Well this has defined my existence for the last three years and everything is Post-Katrina. It’s the common thread which connects all of us who have lived through this storm and are still putting the pieces of our fractured lives back together as we are compelled to rebuild and move on with life. Life doesn’t stop and the skills you have to employ to adapt to sudden change can have a profound effect on your personal development. Especially if you are halfway aware of what was going on around you while it was happening. Capt always likes to say “What you are going through ain’t nothing like you been through.”
O.K. I’m sure you get the point and I could go on and on here just with topics that I have some expertise in and write volumes about topics that interest me. I recognize the need to focus in specific areas but it is so much fun growing in numerous areas. I may be guilty of not mastering any one thing yet, but I am blessed enough to be above average in a number of things which give me a broader foundation and the capabilities to reach a broader audience. For me it looks like a win-win. I’ll be sure to keep you posted.