I don’t agree – and why you should care


Have you ever wondered what makes certain speakers, writers and even YouTube channels popular, and others less so?

“You can always work with readers who say, I don’t agree. What you can’t survive are those who shrug and say, I don’t care.”

I found that quote in chapter 16 of The Craft of Research, Third Edition by Wayne Booth, Gregory Colomb and Joseph Williams, and it’s resonated with me ever since.

Their reference to readers of the written word applies to whether or not you consider yourself a writer. Especially for consumers of popular content creation venues, such as YouTube subscribers or live audiences.

I believe this truly applies when your looking to find your niche. You will likely see evidence of those that don’t care, and those that do. If you try to please the crowd that doesn’t care, you’ll likely find two things. Not only can you not make them care, but now you’ve wasted energy that you could have used paying attention to those that do.

For instance, lets say you have a blog (and a business) about nutrition. It’s easy to think, everybody needs nutrition, right?  But, if you try to be a nutritionist to everyone, you’ll find a large group saying, “I don’t care” (even if they should). And if your topic is too broad, even those that do care may not find enough content of interest.

Similarly, I’ve been watching a lot (actually too many) YouTube channels on photography lately. Because I like taking pictures of speakers on stage, I find that I gravitate to the experts on portrait photography more than sports, wildlife or architecture.

Just like in research and writing, it’s important to narrow our topic to find those who do care, as well as something we can offer to improve their condition.

For the nutrition example, it might be a way for expectant mothers to stay healthy and provide the best start for their baby. Or it could be for bodybuilders to use something natural to improve fitness and avoid chemical options. The point is a select group of potential customers that can benefit from what you offer.

When I find a new channel on photography, I’ll see if it fits my interest. If they start going into bird watching (not my thing) … skip!

When they talk about low lighting, improving composition of photos with people or especially how they handle big events, I’m glued to the screen. Even if I don’t like an idea (like buying a $2,000 lens or a $1,000 light), I’m still engaged when the content matters to me.

And also just like in research and writing, you have to do your homework to discover what these customers need, and how you can provide something unique to them.

One example is a YouTuber that wears a t-shirt that says “I Shoot Raw”. This references a popular file format for cameras. He has good reasons for saying this, but not all of his audience may agree. The conversations about the disagreement are actually instructional, unless you don’t care. The point is he has cultivated an audience of photographers who do care.

Finding your niche will likely feel like a marketing exercise, but don’t discount what you can learn from other disciplines (whether nutrition, YouTubing or even Fast Food). Audience analysis is as valid in speaking and in writing as it is in other businesses.

How can you use this for your specialty?

  1. Find out what works for others in your genre, and take note of what works for you, and even read the comments to see what works and doesn’t work for their audiences. (Caution: Ignore the trolls you complain about everything)
  2. Look at how-to tutorials for those successful in your genre and platform. Many YouTubers will post about their process. Even though most of their audience will never implement their ideas, those posts tend to be very popular and super instructional.
  3. Avoid controversy for the sake of controversary. However, I find that it’s important to have opinions and make you reasons known. Reference the “I shoot Raw” reference above.
  4. Tweak. If you find your content isn’t bringing in the interest, try a different way to approach your niche. This could mean becoming more instructional, more humorous or maybe just setting a better camera angle.

Try to keep you focus on those that do care, whether they agree or not, rather than burning daylight trying to convert those who don’t. You’ll find you subscriber base growing, and you’ll actually make a bigger difference that if you try to “market to everyone”.

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