What’s a niche?
A niche is an opportunity.
In business, the word niche is used often, and it’s a well-known fact that writers and most other creatives need one in order to be financially successful. In that context, niche refers to products, services, or interests that appeal to a small, specialized section of the population. And if you do a search for niche blogging, you’ll open a wormhole filled with people in every corner of the multiverse.
In science, an ecological niche has a deeper definition, which includes the role and position a species has in its environment, how it meets its needs for food and shelter, how it survives, and how it reproduces. An eco-niche includes all interactions with the biotic and abiotic factors of its environment.
In the permaculture community, however, it’s very common to be a generalist and to have this “save the world” “save everybody” attitude. And while that’s sort of a beautiful notion, it’s not very attainable. It’s not measurable. When you try to do everything and help everybody at once, it’s very easy to dilute your work into a watered down, generalist approach, that might be inspiring and helpful on some levels, but is unlikely to bring in much in the way of specific rewards for you as an individual.
But if you can find your niche, as member of the permaculture community, and also as the creative and unique individual that you are, and bring forth ideas, products, and services that solve problems for a specific group of people, you can have a huge impact on their lives, bring in big rewards for yourself, and free up more time and resources for helping non-human species too!
Take a moment to imagine the myriad of ways you could turn your passion into a profession….
Long before “permaculture” was a thing, farmers knew that finding a niche is a great way to make farming a much more viable profession. Here are some interesting case studies:
Marketing for Hippies
If you’re doing any sort of freelance work, or running a business, or even just running a community project that you want other people to know about…you need to learn something about marketing.
“Ethical” marketing is a HUGE rabbit hole on its own, and if you want to go the Heather Jo direction with it (#ecofeminist) then for sure sign up for the free eco-niche class mentioned below.
Meanwhile, check out Ted Hargrave’s work. It’s fascinating to consider how a simple set of tools can make such a huge difference in both the yield and the impact of our work.
Here are a couple of videos, focused on the “find a niche” theme:
- Find your niche! Explore the materials in this class and in the eco niche course, and create a cohesive definition of your place and plan of action! How will you contribute? What will you get as a reward? How will you collaborate, rather than compete with your neighbors, both human and non-human?
- Take this short course, which will use the tools you’ve learned in this course to help you zoom in on your niche.
Relevant Links and Resources
A few more articles from the PWG faculty:
- Harvesting Abundance: Another Twist on the Third Ethic of Permaculture by Karryn Olsen
- 7 Things Ethical Freelancers Need to Know by Heather Jo Flores
- Why Teaching is my Jam, by Lucie Bardos