On Carving Your Niche


There is a men’s magazine called Beef! available at all good news stalls in Berlin.

“Beef” is not a euphemism for female flesh or motor sports: this publication is entirely devoted to men looking for the latest tips in cooking, marinating and serving cow. It advertises itself as “the magazine for men with taste.”

A couple of months ago, while I was weathering my quarter-life crisis I read some encouraging advice from a journalist whose name I promptly forgot. He said: stop trying to please, do what you love to do. And wait for others to come to you.

In a journalistic context, this goes against conventional wisdom. If you are a nobody, like Katekatharina, you should devour the publications you’re interested in writing for, you should find out what they like, you should obsessively pitch to try to meet their wants.

Pitching articles for publications who already have a surplus of highly talented writers can be soul-destroying.

The best antidote I have found to this kind of trauma is to start a blog.

A couple of months ago, I wrote a blog post about education. I argued that evaluation was a much less important feature of the system than we acknowledge. And that constantly aligning ourselves to a standard which we had no part in setting can confine our creative thinking.

If you are suitably self-critical, your own standards might be those that best help you to improve.

At Katekatharina, I write for an editor who is her own worst enemy. But she has little moments, where she’s proud of the little home she’s created on the outskirts of the inter-web.

Recently, I’ve had some small successes in getting work which originated at Katekatharina published.

If there is space in the market for a male magazine just about beef, then maybe we all have little spaces to discover where we can thrive. It’s just a matter of “carving” the right one.

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3 thoughts on “On Carving Your Niche

  1. Woke up to this from my sunday morning nap! Thoroughly entertaining! I agree wth your journalist friend advice – if there is a market for beef magazine to appeal to people who are interested to cook, serve and marinate cow, then there should be a market for you.If we dont try to sell our uniqueness but rather appeal to the already saturated general market, I think it will be a tough competition and demoralising in the long run, especially as there is no huge loads of funds to market Katekatharina with huge billboards. So start uniquely small and there is usually the satisfying feeling of growth πŸ™‚

  2. Those two words: “Sunday” and “nap” sound so wonderful together! I think starting small and staying independent is ultimately much more satisfying than landing an enormous break and ending up trapped. I am happy now, and as long as I can find a way to support myself, I’ll be worry-free too. btw I wrote a short story today: it’s very rough but if you’re interested I’ll send it to you. I was going to blog it but I think if I start writing fiction I’ll make another blog. As always thanks for reading. Your comments always make me smile πŸ™‚

  3. hiya!
    I was poised for a whoop! then, I thought from the way you were writing you’d been published in BEEF! πŸ˜‰ but your journalism will be recognised and when you’re a famous political commentator at Die Weld you’ll be nostalgic about this little blog I bet.
    How’s life in Ritter Sport land? Did you see I had finally finished and released my literary magazine? πŸ˜‰

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