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(Or anyone who is struggling choosing their niche, this is applicable outside of YouTube)
What You Need:
- A couple sheets of paper
- Pen or pencil
You’ve probably heard a million times about how you need a niche to succeed on YouTube. Whoever told you that was right. In this current YouTube space, having a way to stand out from the crowd is essential to make your YouTube channel successful. I usually notice two distinct types of channels that need to find a niche: those who have so many interests that they don’t know which to choose (end up with strange variety channels), and those who just make content that all the famous YouTubers are making because they don’t know how else to get views.
This guide will solve both of those problems, so no matter why you’re struggling with finding your niche, by the time you reach Step 7, you will have all the tools you need to niche your content down and really see meaningful results on YouTube. So what are you waiting for? Take out some paper and a writing implement of some sort, and let’s get down to it!
Step 1. Your Interests
On your sheet of paper, I want you to draw a line down the middle, so that you have created two columns. At the top of the left column, title it Interests. Underline it, box it, highlight it, whatever you’re into. Then get down to listing your interests (in an “Interests” column, who would’ve thought?) below it.
I want to make something clear. When I say “interests,” I mean things you actually find interesting enough that you can hold a conversation about it, attend a seminar about it, or watch a long documentary on it. Yeah, everyone thinks space is cool or ice cream is tasty, but can you talk for hours about quasars and the nature of the universe, or about how to make your favorite flavor of ice cream from scratch? Ideally, you will have fallen down the proverbial rabbit hole with any of your interests at least once. Take as long as you need, and feel free to come back to this tutorial for reference as you continue this process.
Step 2. Your Skills
So there are two columns on your paper, right? I hope you didn’t think you’d be getting away after only filling out one of them. Stop looking at me like that. For the second column, title it Skills the same way you did your Interests column, and (drumroll please) write your skills beneath it.
This may be somewhat difficult for you, so if it helps, ask friends and family what they think you’re good at. This can be anything from hard skills (can you build things, are you good at performing various tasks), to soft skills (time management, creativity, public speaking, general social skills, etc.) to talents that you might have (are you funny, musically inclined, can you make great art?). It can be tough to be honest with yourself about various skills, or you might not think you’re good at something you actually are. Ask around and see what people who know you think, then write those skills down. I honestly don’t expect this process to be finished in just a few minutes, and in fact the longer you take, and the more thought you put into this, the better your results will be.
Step 3. Putting Them Together
By now you should have as many interests and skills as you can think of listed on your paper. Lot of work, huh? Well you’re not done. If you want to build a YouTube channel, just having your interests and skills listed out isn’t going to do you much good. You need to take those interests, and see how your skills apply to them. On a new piece of paper, I want you to create a box for each of your interests. If you need more than one sheet of paper, that’s fine, just make sure you have room to write in each box. Within each box, I want you to pick and choose from your skills column and write skills that are relevant to each interest. You can use and reuse skills as many times as you need, and feel free to be creative! Skills you might not think applicable to various interests could prove to be the recipe for revolutionary content! A creator called acapellascience who has a quarter of a million subscribers makes acapella parodies of popular songs, changing the lyrics to lessons about science! The possibilities are endless, so take all the time you need to come up with some interesting combinations.
Step 4. Ranking Them
This can be as difficult a step as you make it. I think it will be especially challenging for those of you who have conflicting interests. This step, I need you to go through the boxes you’ve created, and find the 3 or 4 that are most important to you. This is crucial for you to find your niche.
Trust me, I know that this can be tough. How do you decide? You really like gaming, but maybe you also like cooking! And while there are probably ways to make those two work together, maybe that’s not something you want to do. My advice? Figure out which boxes pertain to interests that you visit every single day, or almost every day. Which things are so valuable to you that without them, your quality of life would actually suffer? For me it was easy to rule out gaming. While (like pretty much anyone who started a YouTube channel back in the day) I started my YouTube journey with gaming content, I realized that it wasn’t an important enough part of my life to justify making a whole channel about it. What 3 interests matter most to you? If you’re honest with yourself, the answer will become clear pretty quick.
Step 5. Market Research
So here’s where things get technical. You’ve got 3 or 4 interests paired with relevant skills that you’ve decided are the most important to you. We’ll call these your prospective niches. For each one, you have enough passion that you probably won’t run out of ideas for content in these areas, and you’ve got relevant skills listed so that you have the backbone for what types of content you’ll be creating. Now you need to get into the business part of YouTube. Will your prospective niche be a sustainable content career on YouTube? Is there an audience for it? In this step, that’s what you want to find out.
Here’s what you want to do:
- Hop onto Google AdWords, and go to “Keyword Planner” under Tools. Look up the MOST GENERAL keyword in your prospective niche (so if you want to make Nintendo gaming videos, look up Nintendo or Mario). This is to see the broad market size. You want to see 100K-1M monthly searches for your broad term for your prospective niche. This shows you have room to grow, and that there is in fact a market.
- Go to YouTube and search your general terms. What comes up? For your niche to have an active community, you want to see a handful of channels over 1M subscribers, and another handful in the 100K-500K range. If there are more than one 10M+ channel, you probably need to get more specific. On the other hand, if there are no channels over 1M, or even 500K in your niche, and the most viewed videos aren’t that high, you may have picked something that doesn’t have an active community.
Step 6. Get Specific
So you’ve done your market research, and you know that there is a vibrant community of viewers centered around the topics you want to make videos about. Now you need a strategy to attract them. How are your skills different from the top creators in your niche? What can you do differently that can get eyes on your content? This is the time to come up with your target audience and value proposition. Who exactly are your videos for? Obviously people interested in your topic, but what makes them stand out? What are they interested in that the other channels aren’t specifically providing with every video? Provide for those specific viewers to attract your core audience. You can always broaden your topic ass your audience grows.
Why should they care? You need to state the value that your channel provides. How is it different than what’s out there? What does your voice bring to the table that isn’t there? Are you more in-depth or specific on the topic? Do you have a weird spin on it that hasn’t been done (or at least hasn’t been done well) yet? Answer these questions, and you’ve got your niche!
Step 7. Back to the Drawing Board
If you’ve gotten to this step without finding your niche, go back to Step 1, and start the process again. Pay careful attention to what you’re doing, and be patient. Sometimes these decisions can’t happen overnight. The biggest step that I think will give people trouble is Step 5. What happens if you do your market research, and there’s no market for your content? Well, you’ve got two decisions. You could either go ahead and make that content, and start to create a market for it (way easier said than done); or you could go back to the other topics you picked in Step 4, and pick another one. You were probably wondering why I had you pick more than one, huh? My first pick didn’t work out for me, and your first pick isn’t guaranteed to work out for you. Keep rinsing and repeating as many times as you need until you’ve found a niche that you’re happy with, and that has enough market that you can grow a successful channel.