You're going to have to trust me on this one, because I can't remember where I read it or who said it, but a while back I read a quote from a respected internet marketer. And he said that all the really successful internet marketers of his acquaintance had followed their passions. They hadn't set out to find a way to make a great deal of money, they'd just done something they loved doing. And, that way, the long hours of work involved in getting a successful business off the ground weren't a chore but simply a way for them to get more involved in the subjects that really interested them.
I've been thinking about this recently because I've started on a new project, quite unconnected with internet marketing. I'm setting up a website around a subject that has been a hobby of mine for a good number of years and I'm finding all the research and the work involved quite exciting.
And one thing that I've become aware of is that it's much more fun than the work I've been doing (and am still doing) in the field of internet marketing and social media. Now, don't get me wrong, I find internet marketing very interesting and challenging . . . but I'm not passionate about it the way I am about this hobby. I wouldn't want my waking hours to be filled with internet marketing and nothing else . . . whereas the hobby? Well, perhaps.
So is it a mistake to work in a niche that you're not passionate about? No, I don't think so. But I suspect that it makes it more difficult to stick with it. On the other hand, there may be problems with working in a niche that one is passionate about. I remember talking to a friend who is an antique dealer and she told me that the most difficult thing she found about the business was stopping herself from keeping everything she bought. She had a fine collection of antiques herself but every time she bought something beautiful for her stock, she was tempted to add it to her collection rather than selling it. So she had to keep reminding herself why she was buying a piece. Similarly, if we're following our passion, we need to keep our eye on the ball - remember why we're doing what we're doing. If it's just for our own entertainment then it's fine to spend hours reading interesting articles and researching stuff that doesn't really take us any further. But if we're basing a business on it, passion isn't enough. There's got to be discipline involved as well.
But even then, we could run into trouble. Another story from the antiques world springs to mind. Some years ago I was watching the Antiques Roadshow on television. A chap had brought along a huge copper item . . . I think it was a Victorian boiler or something of the sort. He had a small collection of these and was hugely proud of this one. The expert said he'd never seen one like it and had no idea what sort of value it had. To which the owner replied "Of course, it's a collector's item, isn't it." The expert smiled and said "Well I've only ever met one person who collects these - and that's you." No matter how passionate we are about a subject, if we're the only person interested, there's no way we can make a business out of it.
So to anyone starting out and thinking about which niche to choose, I offer the advice that many have given before me: go with your passion, remember your goals, and check that you've got a potential audience. If you do that, chances are that you'll have fun . . . and you could well be successful too!