Writing for a Niche Audience: Steampunk
In order to become an effective content writer, it is important to have niche areas of expertise. The term “niche” derives from a physical niche or “an ornamental recess in a wall or the like, usually semicircular in plan and arched, as for a statue or other decorative object,” according to Dictionary.com. For our purposes, a niche is the virtual version, a tiny segment of a market or topic. It may seem contrary to instinct, but if a writer is deeply steeped in knowledge on a niche topic, the writer becomes the established go-to person for that niche. This situation results in increased specialty orders for that writer.
One of my favorite niches to write about is steampunk. I became fascinated in steampunk when I was researching vintage and antique items for a website. Writing content about steampunk is fascinating because steampunk is a long-lasting cultural phenomenon that continues to intrigue a significant segment of the global population today.
Steampunk started out as a literary phenomenon in the 19th century with the novels of Jules Verne, Mary Shelley, and H.G. Wells. The movement didn’t have a name at that time; however, it is based on the steam-powered engines that started the Industrial Revolution. The term steampunk wasn’t coined until the 1980’s as a variation of the sub-genre of cyberpunk. The sub-culture of steampunk has taken on a life of its own with wide-ranging tentacles into art, fashion, music, design and home decor.
One of the fuels for steampunk is the global drive to recycle. Steampunk, at least in its visual art form, takes old things and makes them new.
This trend is evident in the work by St. Louis artist John Walrod, whose award-winning steampunk art is sold through his gallery, Steampunk Curiosity. What fascinates me about steampunk is the inventive thinking that takes place in the minds of creators. Steampunk enthusiasts mix reality with fiction; often using anachronistic references in their works of art. If nothing else, it is a unique way to stretch the mind’s eye into the possible and away from “that’s the way we always do it.”
To dig deeper into the sub-culture that is steampunk, it helps to have a basic knowledge of the beginnings of science fiction. However, anyone can enjoy the fascinating artwork on Etsy, use of vintage clockwork in interesting design applications, and the jump back into history with a twist in incredible movies such as Sherlock Holmes (2009, Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law).
Steampunk can be found in museums including the Springfield Museums’ “Steampunk Springfield: Re-Imaging An Industrial City” exhibit (Springfield, MA) and in mainstream media such as the Harry Potter series. Nintendo has recently announced a new steampunk-themed game, Code Name: S.T.E.A.M. for Nintendo 3DS, featuring a steampunked Abe Lincoln as its hero. Or you can experience steampunk first-hand at the Chattanooga Steampunk Expo or the Steampunk World’s Fair.
Paula A is a writer by day and a voracious reader by night. She is currently trying to keep her house clean and her mind uncluttered, (or is it the other way around). She specializes in sales and marketing, hazelnut lattes and admiring local art.