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Content sites live and die by their readership, which is why so many brands have sought to target increasingly broad audiences. The dominant thinking seems to be this: If your content applies to as many people as possible, then your site will be visited by as many people as possible.
At JAKK Media, they choose a different approach.
Instead of creating content that is appealing to just anyone, the team is doubling down on niche content, in which they speak to particular passions with narrowly focused, expert content. They deliberately create content that is only appealing to people who are passionate about that subject—from people who are looking to a buy a new mattress or secure their home to folks who want to build their physiques via strength training.
In the process, they’ve learned that by providing great value to an audience (even a smaller one), it’s possible to build a thriving business. Here’s why JAKK Media is betting on niche content as the next big thing.
Embracing Niche Content
Kenny Kline, founder of JAKK Media, has always been a person with a lot of interests, and thus he has also been a person who consumes a lot of interest-related content whenever it’s available. Whether it’s about stained glass, beekeeping, jazz piano, certain types of film, or crafts, he has always been a consumer of niche content—and as a consumer, he’s experienced firsthand how niche content sites can generate raving fans. So when he first began thinking about making better content to appeal to people’s passions, he knew it was worth devoting his career too.
As a result, his first company operated in a niche space—specifically test prep for medical certification exams. He started the company because his sister was a registered dietician, and she wanted a better way to study for her exams. Kline made her a simple app to facilitate her studies and put it up for sale. Even though there aren’t that many registered dietitians (about 3,000 new ones each year), enough of them used the app that he actually made a decent amount of money.
Through this experience, Kline learned that providing value to a small but passionate audience is a viable way to develop a successful business. And he firmly believes this is the most successful business model as content brands look toward the future.
Niche Content: The Way of the Future
Kline’s early success with a niche brand wasn’t just a fluke. Thanks in large part to the fact that content generation and reach has been democratized through advanced creative technologies and decentralized distribution networks, he sees niche content is clearly the wave of the future.
Seth Godin words it nicely in This Is Marketing when he writes, “The relentless pursuit of mass will make you boring, because mass means average, it means the center of the curve, it requires you to offend no one and satisfy everyone. It will lead to compromises and generalizations. Begin instead with the smallest viable market.”
As Kline explains, audiences want high-quality content that is directly relevant to their life’s passions, and they’re increasingly less willing to sort through or engage with content that doesn’t feel relevant to their lives. They also don’t want to engage with superficial content when it comes to topics around which they’ve already developed substantial expertise. Passionate audiences want to go deep with their passions—and they’re willing to stay loyal to brands who go there with them.
The team at JAKK Media can see this both in the success of niche content companies all around the web and in the fact that large content companies are already struggling. Kline expects that many niche content players will rise up to take the place of large content companies with vaguely defined audiences—and sooner rather than later.
Challenges of Niche Content
Creating a successful niche content brand is a walk in the park. Niche content presents many challenges, especially when starting out. Here are a few of those challenges according to Kline:
- You have to figure out how to reach what is probably a small and generally hard-to-reach audience. So while you need to invest a lot in creating great and engaging content, you’re not going to see huge results in terms of traffic or revenue for quite a while. That means niche content requires a decent investment (of time, energy, and financial resources) up front.
- You need experts to create it. Your content creators need to have an extensive background in the field or be willing to spend significant time and energy becoming experts. This makes hiring for these positions especially difficult.
In spite of these challenges, developing a quality niche content brand will pay off in the form of loyal, passionate fans who are willing to spread the word about your brand to their networks of people with the same interest. It may be a slower path to growth, but it ultimately leads to a more devoted audience and a more sustainable, successful brand. At JAKK Media, the team is betting on it.