Choosing a target audience has always been a bugaboo for me. Ever since I started coach training years ago I always hated the whole niche conversation. Partially because I heard so many people with niches that had absolutely no interest to me. Or niches that were really large segments of the population (really demographics). I often joke that if I hear another coach say they work with ‘women in transition’ that I’ll go batty.
Lisa and I coached around this for a while a week ago and I was just really sour about the whole idea of once again re-hashing this conversation. Plus, I haven’t been sleeping well (new matttress/bed on the way on Thursday!).
So Lisa and I hemmed and hawed over the target audience. I know that my target comprises a few things: technology, expression and creativity. The technology is always able to be removed from the equation since I’ve done some of my best work in low-tech (Chicago storefront theatre, no-budget college productions). So we wrestled for a while – I just knew that coaches wasn’t cutting it. I love coaches and coach-type folks but knew that that wasn’t really getting me jucied up about stuff. It didn’t make me pop. So we worked for awhile around other stuff – I’d stumbled into ‘speakers’ as a possible target but only because it is people trying to affect a larger group of people.
But i knew that writing had an ingredient into what I was doing. I am at the foundation, a writer. There is an instinctual connection I have to writing. I can read a passage and feel the cadence in my bones and know where it should be fixed. My heart beats iambic. Every project I do begins with writing – not because it has to – but because it just does. So we batted around that for a while. I kept out of the target niche of ‘theatre people’ because they aren’t a profitable niche. Yes, there are theatre people making livings that could hire a coach – after they pay for music lessons, dancing lessons, a publicist, headshots and all the other ‘bleed’ that artists have to pay to keep themselves in shape. And I knew that technology took me past the realm of theatre people (who are often notoriously Luddite – except for the designers and technicians).
What I’m leaning towards right now is non-fiction authors. Tons of people do coaching for folks around writing their first novel or play or poem and I think it’d be fun to work with folks on non-fiction writing. Taking the same concepts used in creativity and the artistic realm and extending those into non-fiction writing. I suspect that non-fiction writers many times have all of the technical skills down: the research and the data and the structure – but not the more ephemeral parts of creativity and accessing that energy to filter through in creating a non-fiction work. I chose non-fiction because right now I feel like I am ‘post-fiction’. That working strictly in fiction isn’t very useful right now in this world (again, as I say, ask me again in 2 years and I could have totally changed my mind). I’m in more of a confrontive mode than escapist (unless we’re talking X-Files).
I don’t want to focus on getting an agent or that jazz – though that could certainly be important aspects to explore in getting other experts in. Like if I was coaching actors I wouldn’t want to focus on auditions or getting an agent – I don’t have the expertise for that and it doesn’t turn me on. So I’m talking about all the stuff that people wrestle with when they first start trying to figure out what book they are going to write – with a strong component of creative unblocking.
I want to work with people that are past the ‘I’m not really a writer’ phase. That or they are already good communicators. Also – with non-fiction authors – they usually have a ‘real’ dayjob and the non-fiction work is going to extend their current career or help establish a new one.
Also, with non-fiction, authors are more likely to want to change the world with their book. I always cringe when musicians say that they want ‘save the world with their music’.
This niche also grounds me where I’m familiar: self-expression and creativity. I’m still trying to figure out the right language but something like "Julia Cameron with tech-savvy" or something like that.
I’m trying to keep a sense of ease with this process – my usual instinct is to write about it until I’m blue in the hands. I’m imagining this in a big Crock-Pot simmering on Low for the next few weeks.