Thursday, May 20, 2010

Learning to Love a Niche

When I first started writing about commercial real estate and other business-related topics I was excited just to have a job in the journalism field. I could have been happy writing weather reports or obits. But as the time went on and I realized I had thoroughly entrenched myself in this niche, I had a momentary panic attack.

I didn't like writing about commercial real estate. It was boring. What could I do? I spent a couple weeks miserable about the spot I found myself in. Then I spent a couple weeks trying to get out of it. I interviewed for a position as the assistant to an editor at a now defunct home-fashion magazine. When I finished the interview, the editor told me she loved my personality, drive and enthusiasm and unfortunately I was too overqualified for the position. I would be bored, she explained. I was distraught. (Although now I am grateful.)

After that I decided to man-up and give 110% to the job at hand. I poured myself into the niche. I researched the major players, the key words. I learned about cap rates and intermodal yards. I studied the supply-chain and REITs. And through all of this I discovered the areas that I actually love to write about.

I think in every niche, even the ones we aren't completely sold on, there are areas of interest, stories that will grip us and beg to be written. For instance, I love writing about new construction projects, mixed-use facilities and anything that is sustainable. True, there are still the stories that I have to make an effort to care about. But overall, the change in mindset has really helped me make this niche my own.

To make a niche your own you've got to become fully immersed in the topic. You've got to know the players, the events, the background. You've got to have the hunger to know more and the desire to research until you find the answers. You've got to rise above the initial dullness and find the interesting sidenotes or fun facts; besides it is usually this info that makes a story more exciting to read and write.

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