Sometimes the hardest part of writing a newsletter, or founding a community, or starting a publication is coming up with an answer to the most basic question: Where is the whitespace in the market?
By that I mean: What topic would people like to read more about that’s not currently being covered well or in the right way? What do people need help with, or information about, in their day-to-day lives? What do people need to know to do their jobs or run their businesses?
There are a million ways you could answer these questions. Here are five to get you thinking.
1) reddit it
Reddit is a great way to follow topics that interest you — from personal finance to alternate history to rating meadows.
It’s also a great way to discover what interests other people.
Sitting down to write this, I navigated over to the reddit homepage to check the currently trending subreddits (mini-communities organized around topics):
Now, I’m not going to start the world’s leading penmanship newsletter… but someone should! (I mean… maybe… what domain names are available… hmmm…)
If 600K+ people have chosen to follow a subreddit about penmanship, there’s a market for content around that topic. Someone could sell online courses on penmanship. Plenty of products and services might want to advertise to an audience interested in penmanship — not just calligraphy pens, of course, but adult coloring books, meditation apps, graphic-design software, etc.
A niche audience is valuable, and reddit is a smart way to find niches.Take a look for yourself over the next month. There’s even a subreddit tracking Trending Subreddits.
You may just find some inspiration.
2) Check out Quora
Say you have a general idea of the topics that interest you and what you might like to write about. Head on over to Quora and see what people are asking.
Say you’re interested in food or cooking…
Well, a look at the Cooking topic will show you a couple common types of questions.
1) Can I do X with raw chicken? (soak it in water… put it in a slow cooker…)
2) How do I cook X type of beef perfectly?
Maybe the web needs a be-all-end-all authority on raw chicken. That’s probably an SEO project.
Or maybe people need an ultimate steak authority. That could be a website, a newsletter, a community for sharing recipes and techniques.
If lots of people are asking a lot of similar questions, there’s an opportunity to deliver that information to them — in a better way than it’s currently being delivered.
3) Read the news
OK. This isn’t rocket surgery. But just because the trends around us are “obvious” doesn’t mean that there aren’t opportunities in plain sight.
Work is remote (for most of us… certainly most of us reading a newsletter about media). That means so is job hunting. So are job interviews. So is “socializing” around work. So are performance reviews. So are team-building exercises. So are office birthdays. So is the “water cooler.” And so on and so on.
Work routines and productivity are upended.Regular leisure activities are upended.
Personal travel is upended.
Work travel is upended.
When people’s routines are in flux, their media-consumption habits are up for grabs.
What’s your angle?
4) Ask yourself: ‘What am I least passionate about?’
A million people want to write a newsletter filled with their random musings on the world or politics or music or movies. For most people… maybe it’s a hobby, but it’s not a business.
So: What would you write about, or edit, or put together only if you were getting paid?
It’s a focusing question. Don’t be led by your passions to a project with no market; find the market first. If there’s a market, then you can go and find the passion.
5) Look for a problem and solve it
In your business, what problem do you and your colleagues regularly come up against regularly — and why has no one solved it? What information do you need that you can’t get?
Likewise, in your home life, what are you searching for that doesn’t exist?
Sometimes the problems are too narrow, the niche too small. But if you keep your eye out, you may just find your next big project.
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