Building a niche of anvils and feathers

How many times have you said any of these things?

Listen to the audio version

When I say the N word people shudder.


Other than talking about invoicing, niche is one of the only words I can say to my clients that makes them nervous.

They look at me funny. Like I’ve just asked them to sell their babies or kill their dog.

I don’t want you to sell your babies or kill your dog. Or any other animal for that matter.

I want to talk to you about nests, anvils and feathers.

So I’ve got to start with niche. Because niche doesn’t mean niche. It means nest.

“Niche” is actually an old French word. It’s from the word “nicher” meaning to “make a nest”. Somewhere along the way we lost that meaning when we talk about niches.

The word “niche” is now all about being hyper-focused and ruthlessly cutting everybody out of your thing—apart from the people that should see it. It’s the hot marketing buzzword. The plan that saves all plans.

Niching requires you to delete things.

It’s why it makes my clients nervous.

Just like my clients, I worry about “niching down” and losing work. I worry about losing followers for being hyper-focused and talking about one thing.

But then I remember what niche really means—making a nest—and I stop worrying.

Why do I stop worrying?

Nobody ever said you can’t have multiple nests.

But one nest is a good place to start, so let’s look at that.

When you remember that building a niche literally means making a nest, your whole perspective will shift.

You aren’t deleting things or cutting people off. You’re just grouping things. Segmenting things into nice comfy nests.

Most people build nests wrong. They use too many materials. You just can’t build a single nest with anvils AND feathers. A nest has to be made out of the same materials. Otherwise you’ve got an engineering nightmare. Your nest is unbalanced.

That’s what most businesses are trying to do when they’re making their nests. Have their cake, anvils and feathers and eat them all at once.

But this is where it gets really interesting.

You could build 2 nests. A nest of anvils, and a nest of feathers.

And to be honest, you have to start building at least one of them.

You have to start engineering a niche otherwise you’ll be phased out by other more hyper-focused people in the long-term.

Without a niche you’re forced to compete on price. When you’re forced to compete on price you’re forced into a race to the bottom. Nobody wants that.

Instead of building a large nest of anvils and feathers, build 2 smaller nests. 1 full of feathers, 1 full of anvils.

I talk about this in my video Content Satellites. I don’t mention anvils or feathers, but I talk about this idea in a sideways fashion.

Start making that nest.

Stop building a niche.