Lessons from a New Self-Earner: Mainstream versus Niche – 7 Reasons why Less is More

Record collection
Photo Credit: Maria Casacalenda

In 2011, I wrote a song called “F*** the Mainstream.” It did decently on YouTube and that title became somewhat of a catchphrase for me in my music “career.”

But is the mainstream really so bad? My intention in making that song wasn’t to say anything popular is bad. Far from it. I just have little patience for the lowest common denominator. Like McDonald’s burgers and Honey Boo Boo.

Bless her heart.

Most large businesses want to be mainstream. Having the potential to get money from EVERYONE is a pretty tempting notion, especially if you love money. But as a self-earner, do you need an idea to go mainstream in order to be a success? What’s your goal?

I personally have no desire to be the next Mark Zuckerberg or Steve Jobs. I just care about not worrying about money. I don’t need excess.

So why bother pursuing an idea/business that is targeted toward everyone? That space is very competitive. I’d rather go after a niche market. I’m not going to make this post overly long, but here are some reasons why a niche market might be the preferred path for new self-earner.

  1. You can look for holes that need filling. Catering to the mainstream means creating a product or service that many people want or need. That’s tough. It’s easier to find a specific demographic and work toward grabbing their attentions.
  2. Niche audiences can be more loyal. Popularity on the mainstream level can easily fall into trend or gimmick territory.
  3. More money and resources are required to go mainstream. This means the pressure for success is much higher.
  4. A large audience is harder to maintain than a smaller one. You can also reinforce loyalty I noted in #2 with more direct communication with clients/users/customers/fans. This is exceedingly more costly and difficult as the audience expands into mainstream territory.
  5. You can charge a premium to niche audiences. Alright, I’ve stated many times, I am essentially anti-capitalism. That said, I’m in no way going to ignore the fact that most people don’t want to spend a lot of money on things. The ones that do are your niche market. They are the ones who want the things you can’t get anywhere. Hobbyists and collectors are a good place to start.
  6. There is ALWAYS someone bigger. There are some big boys who want that mainstream money. Why do you want to battle upstream? Like I said before, just look for a certain demographic that needs something.
  7. Your niche idea doesn’t have to stay that way. There is nothing wrong with growing a business to become mainstream. I’m not against that at all. I’m just saying, that might not be the smartest place to start.

Or just go for it. I’m not saying what’s right or wrong. I’m just a guy with an opinion. But if you really think about it, less really can be more in this case.

Peace out, party people.

Previously: Lessons from a New Self-Earner: Use Body Language to Improve Networking (Part 1)

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