I realized this after years of pain.
Excruciating pain caused by the first piece of advice you’ll hear when you first embark on your journey to become a free individual:
Just like the social matrix, there is a business matrix.
The social matrix is a groundless web of ideas that allows society to operate cohesively.
The government and culture influence the school system. The school system creates resources for students to learn from. The students don’t question what they’re taught. The students go on to be parents. The parents teach their children what they know and send them to school. The children make friends and conform further to fit in. The children grow up, get jobs, become teachers, become parents, become politicians, and create the knowledge and resources online and offline that influence culture. The parents, students, and children vote. The cycle continues to create the society we live in.
The business matrix is the same web of ideas that allows businesses to operate how they’re “supposed to.”
You are a human. You learn by being exposed to beginner-level knowledge, then intermediate and advanced.
The thing is, who questioned this beginner-level knowledge from the start?
Are we absolutely sure it is the best way to go about things?
Is it the most conducive to results? Or does it cause more confusion that makes people quit too early?
Those that break free of the matrix can do whatever they want.
But you can’t break free in an instant.
You have to understand the rules of the game and acquire enough experience before you can start playing your own game.
It Never Made Sense. It Never Worked. Until…
When I began my business journey I started with freelancing.
I thought it was the most “beginner-friendly” option because all I had to do was “learn a skill, sell a skill.”
So, I decided to try my hand at freelancing with almost every skill you can think.
Video editing, graphic design, SEO, content marketing, Facebook Ads, and web design.
I called myself an “agency” at the time because it sounded cooler than being a freelancer. But it was just me. So I wasn’t an agency, I was a freelancer. So are you if you don’t have employees.
(People don’t care about whether you are an agency or freelancer by the way).
My pain point was always picking a niche.
I’d download free guides and run endless Google searches on the “top 100 niches to target.”
I targeted dentists, gyms, construction companies, and the rest.
What are the problems with this approach?
- I don’t care about these people. I would (and did) hate working with them. This isn’t a sustainable approach to something as important as your life’s work. You’re starting a business for a reason, and it isn’t to just have a new boss.
- I don’t have experience with their business. Most businesses fail because they try to solve a problem they haven’t experienced. Remember that. Feel free to come back to me when you ignore this and fail.
- It prioritizes finding, not attracting or becoming. You learn a skill for someone else. You search endlessly for people to reach out to and end up spending more time on lead generation than building leverage.
It’s no wonder people don’t stick to building a business.
The business ideologies circling the space have dominated for too long.
They are shallow and lack regard for human nature, psychology, and fulfillment.
I will give you a better way to go about creating a niche of one. A way that is intuitive, profitable, and sustainable.
A few lessons that will spare you a lot of pain:
1) The strong desire to find the best niche is a blatant sign pointing to the fact that you don’t understand business from a big picture. Principles VS tactics, and “finding the best niche” is a tactic.
2) Build a product or service that you would actually buy, use, and benefit from. There aren’t many shortcuts in business, but this is one of them.
Those two lessons are what changed everything for me.
The Most Profitable Niche Is You (Productize Your Mind)
Most people don’t realize that they belong to a very specific niche.
You follow a broad amount of people with various interests that have created who you are.
This is mistake number one when creating your niche:
If your job is to target a specific person, and you are a specific person, why are you narrowing in on one specific interest that you want to sell a product or service around?
No, it won’t make you more authoritative.
No, people won’t trust you more.
At best, you’ll look like a glorified search engine of “actionable advice.”
At worst, you limit your audience growth and can’t leverage a wider network.
If someone only talked about the niche they chose, like training programs for entrepreneurs and executives, they would only attract those people.
This isn’t bad, but it’s such a small sample size, and this isn’t paid ads where you can pinpoint ad placements to get in front of these people.
When they only talk to that niche:
- They have more difficulty at the start.
- Fewer people share their content (they can’t get in front of the right people)
- They may grow to 5,000 followers in a year when someone who incorporated their interests can grow to 20,000 in a year
After 3 years, the first gets to 30,000 and the second gets to 300,000 because of the compounding effect.
“But Dan, those 300,000 followers don’t care about my product or service. They’re not hot leads. They aren’t going to buy from me right away. They’re useless.”
There is a lot to unpack there.
First, if those 300,000 followers each know 3-5 people that they can refer to you, that’s a 900,000 to 1,500,000 audience thanks to the network effect. All while the 30,000 follower hyper-niched-down guy is struggling to have enough leverage to get out of manual client work.
Second, they’re not supposed to buy from you right away. That’s the entire purpose of an education brand. You help them go from beginner (content) to advanced (product) with time.
Third, nobody is a useless follower, you are just so narrow-minded and indoctrinated with outdated business dogma that you don’t understand that people can learn something new that improves their life.
By the way, I teach all of this in Digital Economics.
A “Niche” Is A Worldview or Perspective
Let’s break down what a niche actually is.
When you are the niche, and who you are is constantly changing, you are niche-less.
You don’t box yourself into skills or interests that you will outgrow because you are human.
Why are you told to niche down in the first place?
So you can understand the mind of your readers and customers.
You’re told to create a customer avatar, identify a burning problem they face, and position a solution toward them. (This solution is often the same as any other product with small changes. The point is to make it perceived as valuable to a specific person by understanding them. Hack: recreate what already exists, but better, and don’t overcomplicate it).
So, why don’t we skip all of that and treat ourselves as the customer avatar, solve problems that we’ve actually experienced, and build a solution that actually benefits our lives.
This eliminates 99% of the guesswork with making money.
And, you don’t end up working with people you don’t like.
In essence, a customer avatar is the mind, worldview, or perspective of someone you are creating for or marketing toward.
From a structural standpoint, a worldview or perspective is composed of:
The conscious or unconscious goals that influence every single action you take, like taking one step forward or going to the gym.
Self-generated goals put you in control of your life.
Goals frame how you interpret situations. A person with the assigned goal of society to retire at 60 years old will see fewer business opportunities as opportunities than the person with a self-generated goal of financial freedom by 25 years old.
Goals also frame how you (or your readers) interpret books and content. Two people with different goals will have radically different highlights of the books and content. They will notice the things that aid in their goals – whether they are aware of it or not.
The conscious or unconscious problems that prevent you from reaching your goals or ideal lifestyle.
The foundation of marketing is to raise your readers’ level of awareness surrounding their problems over time.
If you’ve solved your own problems and are helping your audience do the same, you are in a great position.
The 5 levels of awareness are:
- Unaware – unaware of their problem and how it is hurting their quality of life.
- Problem aware – aware of their problem but don’t know how to solve it.
- Solution aware – aware of their problem and know there is a solution, education, or knowledge to solve it.
- Product aware – aware of their problem and know there is a streamlined path or system to solve it.
- Most aware – they are ready to change, they just need the right “why” that changes behavior instantly. Like when you read an idea in the book and it changes you entire outlook on life.
When your worldview is your niche, your job is to write in a creative fashion that increases people’s awareness of their problems. That way, they act on a solution toward reaching their goals.
3) Potential paths
The last piece of the worldview puzzle is clarity.
When people don’t have clarity on their next steps, they feel anxious, overwhelmed, or bored.
This is what causes arguments in relationships, dissonance in business, and battles between political parties.
People who don’t share the same worldview are missing pieces of the other party’s path, narrative, or system that allows them to make sense of that situation.
So, when you are the niche, your job is to create a holistic, step-by-step path that you can share with readers who have your same worldview, usually in the form of a product or service that you can be paid for.
That way they are more likely to get results and understand you.
There’s a reason why my philosophical musings bring a load of new people into business. Because I make it make more sense than the shallow business gurus you see everywhere.
Beyond goals, problems, and potential paths there are multiple aspects of the human psyche that influence how people perceive and act on goals and problems:
- Prior experiences
- Firm and loose beliefs
- Skill level across all domains of life
All of the above can be conscious, unconscious, known, or unknown.
Your entire job as an education brand is to raise the consciousness of your audience.
Make them conscious of their goals and problems.
Expose them to unknown potentials of their life and educate them to the point of it being known.
Your niche is the frame of big goals and burning problems that compose your worldview.
Your job is to program the minds of your audience to adopt this frame (or worldview), pursue those goals, and solve those problems.
This is a massive yet fulfilling undertaking to live a life of purpose.
It demands that you develop yourself for life and evolve with the responsibility of guiding a community under you.
Niches are supposed to be specific, and what is more specific than this?
A desirable goal that will change your life (and your readers).
A burning problem that will ease your suffering (and your readers).
A clear path, system, or solution to bring you clarity (and your readers).
The goals and problems will almost always be similar to someone else’s.
Everyone has the same goals and problems in the eternal markets: health, wealth, relationships, and happiness.
But the path…
The path is singular to you.
Everyone wants financial freedom, but two people have to take different paths.
You may go the social media and online business route with e-commerce and the unique skills, mindset, and experience associated with that.
Another may go the investing and real estate route with another unique combination of skills and interests.
Remember that every other interest you learn also plays a role in how you perceive situations.
If journaling, going on a walk, or playing video games were included on that path, no matter how direct to achieving your goal, still played a role in your achieving your goal.
The path is what creates who you are.
All of the beliefs, skills, and billions of bits of information you process along the way toward achieving your goals is the most unique niche in the world.
If you can illustrate your path across your hundreds of posts, newsletters, products, and interactions – that is how you create a niche of one.
Your job is to document your life on the internet and let the rewards of authenticity work their magic.
Your job is to attract a specific group of people. You do this by writing ideas in a way that makes sense to you. From your worldview. From your point of view. The specific group of people are those with your same personality. That’s how you set yourself up to create a product for yourself that sells without market research.
The Book Of Your Life – How To Create Your Niche Of One
When you document your life on the internet, you create your niche of one.
The mindset & skillset of your past, present, and future self should be illustrated in a persuasive manner to attract those with a similar personality, but are a few steps behind you so you can actually help them.
You are going to outline the structure of a book you would write about your life.
This will be used for pattern recognition and content creation.
Use this outline to notice ideas as you consume information.
Also use it as a content plan to write newsletters, threads / carousels, and short form posts over the course of 6-12 months (that is how long it will take to get your audience truly familiar with you).
With that, fill out the book structure below as if you were writing to those 1-3 steps behind you.
You can use this book outline along with my 2 Hour Writer course to write content that actually leads to readership growth.
Book Introduction: Your Story
Your story is your brand. It is important that you get clear on what your story is so you can use it to frame content from a unique angle.
You can start almost any writing with a personal experience. That alone makes it unique and not like the rest of shallow writing.
- Where did you start out?
- What struggles did you go through?
- What was the climax of your journey?
- What did you achieve that is desirable to others?
- What topics, interests, or skills helped you get there?
Section 1: Philosophy
You need to get people on the same page as you.
Your philosophy is your answer to the question, “How does one live the good life?”
You must constantly illustrate the importance of what you believe and do in a way that leads toward your ideal future (or avoids the “enemy” of your brand).
- Describe your ideal future and lifestyle in detail. What goals are you leading your followers toward?
- Describe the enemy. What is the future and lifestyle you want to avoid like the plague?
- What are beliefs you have that others would consider extreme or offensive?
- What is the importance of each topic, interest, or skill you’ve learned to help you on the way toward your ideal lifestyle?
Take your time with this. The outline will be pretty dang big.
The answers to these questions will form the majority of your content ideas that lead to a lot of growth.
Section 2: Education
This is how you build authority.
Your job is to educate people on the skills or interests
Literally teach them the skill or interest and how you learned it. There is only so much that can be said about this. You aren’t creating anything new. You are simply creating a library of information under your brand – that way people can learn from you.
Don’t fall into the trap of, “They can just learn this information somewhere else online.”
Assume they don’t have the drive to learn elsewhere and that YOU have to give them the information.
As we will discuss in the next section, people remember those who first taught them the knowledge that is useful to them. Be that person for more people.
Section 3: Practice
Create step-by-step systems and practices that your readers can use to get better at your skills and interests.
As a bonus, slap your own name on these.
If you want to recreate something like The Eisenhower Matrix for productivity, do it.
Don’t teach that concept or model, take it and create your own in a way that may get better results.
Behavior change is the driver of authority and recognition.
When you write your book with time on social media, you build a brand that blows past 99% of people.
The Psychology Of Interest – How To Talk About Whatever You Want & Still Get Paid
Since I’ve started changing the online business landscape, I get this question almost daily:
“I want to talk about more of my interests, but what if it gets low engagement or my audience doesn’t like it?”
First, understand the separation between content and product.
People think that content is all about promotions. They think they should only write content that leads to sales and leads.
They think they should niche down everything they write about – rather than having a specific and compelling landing page for a product that establishes authority in one go so you don’t have to talk about it all the time in your content.
Test ideas here and there for selling your product in your content, then use those ideas to form the landing page that lives as static content forever that you link to.
I see this way too often:
All people post are images or updates of their product.
Or they make a post with
They never show that they are human.
They never educate, entertain, or inspire (you know, the things that people actually follow and show up for on social media).
They only sell.
Nobody follows company accounts.
People follow educators, entertainers, and inspirers.
RedBull has a massive following because they don’t have a single picture of their product on their Instagram. It is all inspirational content about the lifestyle people are living because of RedBull.
If all you do is talk about your product, that is a great way to never grow your brand, have engaged readers, or see exponential growth in revenue.
A personal brand is the most potent traffic source for your business, product, or service.
So, let’s start by flipping this on its head.
What happens if you only talk about your skill that makes you money?
- You get low engagement. If your content doesn’t get shared, how are you going to grow so that you have more people to promote to?
- You don’t build trust or authority. Stop thinking like you have to monetize right now and start thinking that you’re going to monetize in 12 months (and you’ll monetize faster now by doing so.)
- People don’t like you. If you ever want to pivot and sell something else, you won’t be able to. You’re trapped into whatever niche you always sell to.
People have multiple interests.
People can adopt new interests.
You can make your interests interesting so people become interested in them.
This is what turns viewers into fans into superfans.
Someone may follow you for one interest, like how you would follow Dwayne The Rock Johnson after watching a movie he starred in.
Now they’re a viewer.
Then you either share another interest of theirs or get introduced to something new, like how The Rock posts about fitness and nutrition.
Now they’re a fan.
Then they discover the beliefs or values that compose their mindset, like how The Rock values gratitude and hard work.
Now they’re a superfan.
(Everyone should include mindset in their content by the way, that is what attracts a broad audience because it applies to everyone).
Talking about more than one interest is how you become irreplaceable.
The best personal brands do this without trying.
They just post whatever they deem important to them and attempt to illustrate that importance to you.
Here’s how you can begin doing this:
1) Focus On Education
Adopt the mind of your past self, an absolute beginner.
How would they get to where you are now in a better way?
2) Focus On Understanding
Zoom out and identify the gaps in your followers’ knowledge.
What do they need to know to get on the same page as you?
3) Focus On Importance
Analyze your life and realize why you do what you do.
Why do you only have those select skills and beliefs rather than the millions of others you could have? Why did you take the path you did over another one?
Broad Brand, Specific Product (How To Actually Niche Down)
You may be asking, “Dan, how am I going to sell anything if I’m not writing anything related to what I sell?”
First, you are writing about it occasionally so people know what you do.
Two, you don’t have a solid understanding of what marketing actually is.
You are almost never directly talking about the skill you sell.
You are talking about how it will change their life. How it will spark a transformation. How it will bridge the gap between where they are and their ideal future.
You are illustrating the life they want, making them aware of the problem they are facing, and presenting a product as the solution.
With that, think about niching down like this:
Your brand is a broad attractor of similar people.
Your content is a modality of making people aware of desirable goals and burning problems in their life.
Your first and foundational product is the bridge between those.
You don’t have to consistently write about your product because you have something called a landing page that picks up where your content left off. A landing page is static digital real estate that doesn’t disappear like content does.
So, become a mad scientist for a bit.
Map out a newsletter, free guide, low-ticket product, and high-ticket service (which is optional if you are building a large, not niche, audience).
Your newsletters should all be hosted on a blog so you can plug the best ones for interested readers to read.
Your free guide landing page and content educates people toward becoming customers for your product. This is catered toward a more specific problem in your audience.
Your product landing page picks up from where you left off and makes people aware that they can solve their problem faster.
That is how you niche down.
You deploy digital real estate, write worldview-based content, and consistently guide people every day toward your newsletter, free guide, and product in that order.
The Evolution Of Your Niche, Brand, and Products
Solve your own problems and sell the solution.
Not once, but forever.
Your brand, content, and products will evolve as you reach new heights in your life.
You will be forced to create new products as the old ones lose their punch. This isn’t a bad thing, it actually allows you to sustain and increase your yearly revenue.
I have launched something new almost every quarter since I started 4 years ago.
From web design and freelancing, to marketing consulting, to a physical productivity planner, to social media growth, to self-improvement, to writing, to a business masterclass, to short cohorts, to a book, and now a software from the systems I’ve created (that almost nobody can replicate because their path isn’t the same).
You have to experiment and iterate.
That is the only way you will prevent brand entropy and not die a slow death to the nature of social media. You must evolve.
That’s it for this letter.
Hope it helped.