Last week I tweeted out a simple question.
The most common theme in the replies?
"Choosing a niche."
Is a niche helpful when starting a newsletter? It sure is. 100%. But what if you haven’t nailed down a niche — or you’re worried you’ll feel “trapped” when you choose one?
Here’s my advice: start anyway.
You don’t need a niche to start a newsletter. It helps. But it’s not a requirement.
How to start if you don’t have a niche
I started the Growth Currency newsletter without a niche.
Not only that — it didn’t even have a proper name. I wanted to empower others to learn by curating resources that helped me. So I called the newsletter “Knowledge UP”.
I hated the name.
I didn’t have a niche. No clear focus. I just wrote about things that I was interested in, like personal finance, marketing, podcasts, self-improvement, writing and productivity.
So, a quick recap:
- I started a newsletter with a name I did not like.
- I started a newsletter without a clear focus or niche.
But I started.
It might be easy for me to sit here 18 months later and say, “Just do as I did!” But that wouldn’t be fair.
Maybe you can’t figure out a topic.
So choose the type of newsletter you want to create instead.
Here are 5 types of newsletters you can start today.
- Create an opinion-based editorial newsletter.
Provide your opinion on content you consume. Provide research, a counterpoint, a contrarian or “spiky” point of view. The benefit to this style? Write about anything you want: your opinions and depth of research are the “niche” — not the topic.
- Create a curated newsletter. This was my strategy at the start. Simply curating interesting links to helpful tools and resources. My friend Rishikesh writes the 10+1 Things newsletter and has grown it to 1,000 subscribers without any niche whatsoever. He simply shares interesting, unrelated links from around the web. And he’s now begun to monetize with ads!
- Create a review newsletter.
Simply consume and review. Whether it be reviews on podcasts, books, videos, marketing campaigns, movies, tech, gadgets, stocks, online courses, TikTok accounts. We all consume online. Turn your consumption into valuable content.
- Create a case study or reports-based newsletter.
Provide teardowns, case studies, reports, breakdowns and frameworks of successful — or failed — businesses, marketing campaigns, famous people, TikTok or Twitter accounts. The best part about this style of newsletter is the potential to charge for it. Many paid newsletters are in this format. Think Trends.co, Growth Marketing Examined, The Profile, etc.
- Create a news-based newsletter.
Love music? What’s the latest news in the music industry? What bands are touring? Who’s playing on SNL this week? What are the best Spotify playlists for specific genres of music? Who’s headlining Coachella?
Love sports? What’s the latest news in your favorite league or with your favorite team? Who are the players to watch in the upcoming season?
Love staying fit & healthy? What’s the latest in the evolving wearable tech industry? What’s the latest news and research in nutrition? What’s the latest innovation in fitness? Who are the experts we should be listening to and why?
- BONUS! Create a newsletter season or pop-up newsletter.
My friend Arunima published a season of newsletters. I thought it was so brilliant. She wrote about mental models & fallacies with examples and case studies. It was daily for 2 weeks. A pop-up newsletter would be similar: a newsletter with a definitive start and end. The beauty with either option is there’s no niche panic. Pick a topic, write about it for a set period of time — and you’re done! Or you can keep going. Win-win.
Chances are when you thought through some of these styles of newsletters, you imagined writing about a couple specific topics. Go with those ideas.
Latch onto that gut feeling. Jot down your topics. Go! Write!
Still stuck? Try this.
Go the complete opposite direction.
Pick a hyper-focused niche and learn everything you can about it. Sometimes heavy constraints are helpful.
Say you like journaling.
But a newsletter about journaling seems too broad, and where would you start?
So you could start a newsletter on a very focused, narrower aspect of journaling.
- Maybe it’s the type of journal.
- Maybe it’s about journaling for procrastinators.
- Maybe it’s about journaling with ADHD (or another common struggle).
- Maybe it’s about journaling for entrepreneurs, or new moms, or recently laid-off professionals considering a career change.
- Maybe it’s an experimental newsletter trying different journaling techniques and reporting the results.
You get the picture.
Now take one of those ideas and combine it with one of the 5 types of newsletters I listed before. Voilà — a newsletter is born.
Remember the main point
And that’s to start.
Pick a newsletter format. Then pick a topic (or more) of interest. And start writing. You’re not bound to the topics you start with.
Remember: Gary Vee started with a wine channel. He sure as hell didn’t let a wine niche stop him from “crushing it”.