NicheCraft is a set of processes and tools for building a 1,000 True Fans style business.

It’s a framework for creators who are committed to playing the long game. It’s about doing work that matters for people who care—for years or decades on end—all with the utmost integrity. In other words, it’s the exact opposite of a get rich quick scheme, or some set of “growth hacks.”

The NicheCraft system has five interlocking elements, all of which work together to build an effective, delightful creative business.

  1. Identifying the perfect niche for your creative work
  2. Understanding your niche on a deep, psychological level
  3. Differentiating yourself by leaning into your personality and values
  4. Putting out quality creative work on a regular basis
  5. Making delightful offers and building a robust business

In the months and years to come, I’ll be fleshing out each of these elements in exquisite, unrelenting detail. But for now, I’d like to offer you a quick primer on the journey ahead.

1. Niche Finding

It all begins with finding and validating a niche that’s a perfect fit for your creative work, your identity, and your values. NicheCraft can’t work its magic unless you feel a deep connection with this group. That’s what enables you to play, and win, the long game.

In this stage, we first seek to understand ourselves. We use the tool of freewriting to unearth our existing passions and curiosities—pulling apart the many threads of our identities and values.

Once we understand ourselves, we can begin looking for our reflection in existing markets. In the parlance of Seth Godin, we “find the others.” We form a hypothesis for what we’d like our niche to be, then we see if our people are already out there, waiting for us with outstretched arms.

For some creators, this is a breeze. For others, to put it bluntly, it can be tedious and challenging. It involves a crazy amount of googling, and often comes with false starts and dashed hopes.

But pushing through is important. Because when you find an active niche that’s drawn from your own identity, you get the best of both worlds. You have the foundation for creative work you love, and a business that actually works.

2. Immersion & Understanding

Once you’ve honed in on who your people are, next comes the ongoing task of deeply understanding them.

What are their dreams, fears, desires? Their jargon, their quirks, their pet peeves? What do they believe about the world, and about their place in it?

This understanding is what allows you to be signal instead of noise. It’s what enables you to create things—content, products, etc—that deeply, profoundly resonate.

Underlying this is a simple truth. All of us yearn to be seen and understood, to feel like we truly belong.

When we do the work of understanding our people, and then reflect that understanding back out into the world, we become truly magnetic for those we seek to serve.

In terms of how you extract these insights, there are all sorts of tools at our disposal. There’s audience mapping, sales safari, customer interviews, and more. We’ll flesh these tools out in due time, but for now, those links will suffice.

3. Differentiation

The third element of NicheCraft is mastering the art of differentiation.

Any viable niche will have other people—creators, influencers, media companies, etc—competing for attention. Don’t worry, this is a good thing. It means there’s desire afoot, and plenty of existing demand for your work.

However, that doesn’t it’ll easy to earn attention and build trust. The internet is a noisy place, and it takes ongoing work to stand apart from the crowd.

So in this stage, you build what I call a Fascination Stack. Put simply, you find not one, but multiple ways to lean into your individuality, and show people why you’re different or better.

Where are other creators dropping the ball? What’s a common belief in the niche you don’t agree with? What unique skills can you bring to the table that no one else can? How can you emphasize certain aspects your personality? How can you broadcast your deepest held values? How can you zig, while everyone else zags?

Stack enough of these differentiators on top of each other, and you become noticeably different from everyone else in the niche. And nothing earns attention like being different.

A Fascination Stack like this helps you become effectively immune from competition. People will actively choose to become your fans and customers because you’re uniquely you. And that’s something no competitor can ever replicate.

4. Creating Awesome Shit

For those of us who are creative at heart, here comes the fun part.

Within the structure you’ve built, you now have an incredible freedom that so few creators ever grasp. You now have the ability to do interesting, vibrant, unique creative work, and be virtually guaranteed that your people will dig it.

Your job in this stage is simply to make cool stuff. To put out generous work and tell delightful stories. The goal is to earn—truly earn—the ongoing attention and trust of people in the niche.

This goes way beyond “content marketing.” This isn’t about cluttering up the internet with more clickbait garbage and regurgitated listicles.

There’s no phoning it in with the creative aspect of NicheCraft. To make mediocre content is to let both yourself and your fans down. It’s to ignore your creative potential. It’s to make the internet a duller, noisier place.

So I urge you to yank on the threads of your curiosity, and follow wherever they may lead. Create the work that only you can. Make the things you wish existed, but don’t yet. For this will not only satisfy your own creative appetite, but it will utterly delight your fans.

When Seth Godin talks about shipping generous, vulnerable work, this is it. It’s about doing worthwhile stuff for those you seek to serve. And by serving them, you also set the stage for the final element of NicheCraft.

5. Business Building

Finally, we come to the task of building a long-term business of your own.

At its core, building a business is about making offers. You’ve already done the hard part of identifying a hungry market, understanding needs, differentiating yourself, and earning attention.

All that’s left is making an offer they can’t refuse.

What you offer is entirely up to you. Maybe you’ll sell digital products or NFTs. Maybe you’ll have a membership or a Patreon. Maybe you’ll offer high-ticket coaching or consulting. Maybe you’ll license your creative work to other platforms. There are dozens of options here, all viable.

More likely, you’ll build an ecosystem of offers, ranging from small to large. You want to give your fans multiple ways to start and deepen their customer relationships with you.

This is how you make the 1,000 True Fans paradigm come to life, and support yourself with creative work you love for years or decades to come.

As for how you make effective offers, there are numerous frameworks. But one of my favorites is Jobs To Be Done. We will, of course, be exploring that more in the months to come.

But for now, let’s call it a day. You’ve now been introduced to the art of NicheCraft, and it’s a lot to chew on.

My hope is this provided a nice little roadmap for the journey we’ll be undertaking together on Ungated. The proverbial seeds have been planted.

If you yearn to do creative work that matters, for an audience that cares, and build a long-term business around it, the NicheCraft framework is designed to make that your reality.

It’s not easy. It’s not quick. But it’s one hell of a rewarding way to spend your life as a creative entrepreneur.

Let’s do this.

-Rob Hardy


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