Good thoughts here, John. In choosing a niche, I meant it more generally than “if you write this way, they will come.” The problem most people have writing is they don’t know who they want to reach, which causes their writing to become convoluted. If you don’t know who you’re writing to, how do you expect to reach them or the masses? For instance, I meet a lot of people who say, “I want to be a writer.” I respond, “Great! What do you want to write about?” Many of them stumble over that question. It’s usually some general sentiment like, “Well, I think a blog just sharing my life, travels, or maybe some poetry…I’m just not sure.” That’s a red flag. Sure there are anomalies who slip through, but even in those you’ll notice there’s an underlying theme that develops given time.
Perhaps the clearest example I can give you is here on Medium. Medium asked it’s authors to pitch them stories to write for their member series. Stories that were burning in their soul and that they wanted to reach people with. How the hell do you pitch a publication if you don’t know who you’re writing to? You can write all over the map (I write fiction, fantasy, life lessons, mental health advice, and about war), but you better zero in on who in your category that you’re talking to. I’m currently writing a piece for Medium members about Memorial Day. My audience is specifically men and women that are NOT veterans to give them a better understanding of what happens to our soldiers that lose friends in combat. I want them to get inside the mind of a veteran and feel how a vet would.
But in regards for how to reach people? I think some of it’s luck. Some is skill. And some is craft. But more than anything I truly believe it’s perseverance. My best friend was rejected 600 times before he became a Wall Street Journal Bestselling Author. I wrote to an audience of zero and a few friends for a while. Then it jumped to maybe 50. That lasted for about 5 years. When I joined Medium, the first couple months I had maybe 7 views on my articles? But I just kept writing and practicing the lessons I learned in the military: resiliency and mental grit. It came down to a saying my Drill Sergeant used to tell me:
Mind over matter, Sledge. If you don’t mind, it don’t matter.