Sometimes "niche" is as naughty a word as some of the colorful language that can be heard up and down high school hallways.
Every storyteller needs to know who they are as a teller, and once we get over the shock of hearing the word "niche", then it is time to explore what it means to us. . .before we look like fools.
1. What is my niche?
If you answered "everything", then think again. You could be one of those curious people who love any subject or story that you hear. However, a sponsor asks "What kind of stories do you tell?" and expects to hear some specifics. They want to know that they can count on you as an expert to match their intended theme.
You may have more than one niche, though in the beginning there is less stress as a performing artist and as a business owner when you have one.
Remember that each niche requires its own press kit and marketing plan. Michael Port, the author of Book Yourself Solid, has urged people to have a full schedule of appointments and presentations in one niche before you add another niche.
2. I still cannot figure out my niche. Now what?
Breathe. It is perfectly natural to be confused. We are always questioning ourselves.
Here are some hints to guide you--
- What types of stories/programs do you already offer? What other types of stories/programs would you like to offer?
- What audiences do I tend to attract? What audiences do I wish I could attract?
Ideally, niches delve into your passion and energy for the subject. Sometimes niches develop because you receive the same requests from various sponsors. They usually start the conversation with, "You are the person who tells ____________ kind of stories."
3. How do I find the right words to describe my niche?
There are three areas that inspire how to say what your niche entails to others--
Though you could say "I tell ghost stories" or "I tell Appalachian ballads", this is not as strong as if you said, "I tell ghost stories to adult in order to scare their socks off." Now you have topic, audience, and result. Your name would buzz around as "the storyteller" for this kind of program.
There is a warning about result-inspired niches. The teller can only do so much to inspire their audience to "scare their socks off" or whatever kind of result chosen. The audience members will take what they will when the actual telling takes place. However, if the sponsor realizes that your intention is for the majority of the audience to react or respond a certain way due to the stories you share, then the sponsor may be more likely to hire you.
The danger is when we seem to guarantee certain results and then we fall short. We must always exceed the expectations of the sponsors.
The T.A.R. way to discover your niche can also work the opposite way. What topics, audiences, or results do you not want?
I would never recommend myself as someone who "tells ghost stories to adult in order to scare their socks off". However if someone wanted a safe yet entertaining environment to address family social concerns to middle school to college students through storytelling, then I would say, "Yes, I am an expert in that area."
At times, I wish I had a list of every storyteller in the world with their corresponding niche next to their name. Then, when I get a call or email asking for stories or programs that I do not share, then I could pass along contact information.
Perhaps this is a trick we play on ourselves as a storytelling community. What if we shared our niches with each other so to create one huge database?
In the meantime, let us focus on ourselves as individuals and encourage our friends to do likewise.
In time, "niche" will not be such a naughty word after all.
Until we tell again,
Former Co-Chair of Youth, Educators, and Storytellers Alliance
Tel: (801) 870-5799
How-To Blog: http://storytellingadventures.blogspot.comPerformance Blog: http://familyfamine.blogspot.com
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