Nitch or Neesh? (Finding Yours)

by | Jun 28, 2015 | Ruminations | 1 comment

The word Niche on a cork notice boardDoes it really matter?   July brings with it a sobering thought.: Half the year is gone!

I often joke that I’m still trying to figure out where 1992 went, ’cause I can’t remember being IN that year…or what I did WITH it.  [But I won’t bore you with my missives about selective amnesia.]

July REALLY brings with it the usual panic.  OMG… the year is half over, but I haven’t nearly worked through my “list of things to do in 2015″!

I was talking to my wife about this.  She’s convinced me that I’m working hard, but not working smart.  As usual, she’s right.  I’ve spend a good bit of my time engaging in the classic blunder of handling what’s urgent, and not what’s important.  For those of you who are not familiar with this tenet, read anything by the late great  Stephen R. Covey, including his Time Management Matrix and the “four quadrants”. See “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”.

People have written tomes on effective use of time, principle-centered thinking, optimizing your talents, goal-setting, etc.  So much so that there’s a muddy miasma of vectors pulling every which way.  What’s one to do?  Who do you believe?

I have my own rules of thumb about how to conduct life and business.  Those lofty goals are roughly stated in the following list:

  • Play to your strengths
  • Listen to those who know you
  • K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple, Stupid)
  • Know your limits
  • Work your niche

What?  Wait. Work your niche?  I haven’t seen that one in any of the popular self-help books!

Yeah, I know…I just made it up.  Or at least I think I did.  Maybe a book has already been written about it.

By “working your niche”, I don’t mean limit yourself…I mean be realistic.  What is your bread ‘n’ butter?  What is your money-maker that seems really not much work to you at all?  Something that can sustain your VO business while you’re off at FaffCon and chasing auditions on V123.

Working your niche means knowing your specialty as good as the top 1% in the field.
Working your niche substantiates you as an expert.
Working your niche establishes you as the thought leader, an influencer, a pace-setter.
Working your niche makes you comfortable mentoring and coaching others in your specialtyBut above all, working your niche shows you’ve mastered the art of turning your specialty into a steady income stream.

I like being a renaissance man.  As a news guy, it gives me context on a broad range of topics of which I’m expected to know something when virtually ANY story pops up.  But Renaissance man only waters down my strengths in voice acting.  I’d love to be able to master all the genre’s…from animation and video games to E-Learning, audiobooks, and Network Promos.  But is that realistic?  One of them can be a niche.  Two are possible, certainly.  Three or more, and I begin to spread myself too thin, maybe?

How ’bout you?  Are you a niche kinda person, or a nebulous jack-of-all-trades, and master of none?

Oh, and BTW, I say “nitch”, not “neesh”!  LOL!




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1 Comment

  1. Mike

    I’m making the move to VO now… taking classes, reading books, etc. I’ve been thinking about this topic and wanting to avoid mistakes I made when starting a freelance career years ago in another area. The mistake is believing that you should try to be all things to all people. In our heads, we know that’s probably wrong. But starting out, we worry about limiting ourselves or passing up good opportunities. You could say we try to make EVERYTHING our bread and butter because you never know who’s going to call.

    What I’ve learned in VO so far (and what I kind of knew back in my radio days years ago) is that there is one area where I do better than others. While I’d love to be in a variety of areas in VO, I’m narrowing that focus to the one area I have the most passion for and already seem to have some strengths with. That’s where the majority of effort will go, with some designated time to build up those other skills.

    I’m not sure I could have made the commitment as a kid just out of high school. But age and experience have shown me that what you’re talking about is a better approach.


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