“Using Your Niche to Build an Engaged Community,” a Webinar by Black Travel Alliance (Review)

This past weekend, I attended the first webinar hosted by the Black Travel Alliance. If you’ve never heard of Black Travel Alliance, here’s a little background from their website:

Black Travel Alliance is a new group of Black Travel Content Creators from across the globe. Our three pillars of the community are alliance, amplification, and accountability. As travel authors, bloggers, broadcasters, journalists, photographers, podcasters, social media influencers, and vloggers, we unify to amplify. We also aim to provide training and business support to our members, as well as hold destinations and travel brands accountable on the issue of diversity in travel marketing and storytelling.”

Black Travel Alliance launched in early June which was, in my opinion, such perfect timing. Though travel has not been an overwhelming priority for most people, it did not diminish the call to action for travel companies, agencies, businesses in aviation, etc. to confront the lack of diversity and inclusivity of people of color, especially black people, in their demographics. Because traveling is both for leisure and business, we need that representation on the other end of the phone or that email chain, or leading our tours, or owning our hostels, Airbnbs, and other accommodations. We need people who understand what it is like to travel the world with a built-in disadvantage; not just for people of color, but for disabled people, fat people, people whose first language isn’t English, and so on. They started a hashtag, #pullupfortravel, that gave specific companies 72 hours to respond with their demographic make up within their companies. They got a lot of responses and I genuinely think it’s because their activism went beyond social media. Black Travel Alliance aims to really enact change, so it was a no-brainer for me to support this cause.
I wanted to include all of this background because it is extremely important to note not only why I follow them, but why you should be following them too. It’s one thing to create a space for black travelers, content creators, and their allies to form an alliance, but it’s another to come out of the gate with an immediate call to action and actually seek change. Yes, you did read that right–you can be an ally and still join the Black Travel Alliance. This is a mission I could get behind and one you should too. Be sure to follow their Instagram (linked at the beginning) to learn more!

Their first webinar was called “Using Your Niche to Build an Engaged Community” and the presenter was Gabby Beckford of http://www.packslight.com. Gabby is 25 and her niche is Gen Z travel. She talked about how when she first started, nobody was interested in hearing from the perspective of Gen Z because they are young, they haven’t experienced a lot, and they don’t have their own money to ultimately contribute to the industries that were initially ignoring them. However, I think we have all seen with the boom of the influencer and the rise of TikTok that the Gen Z voice is HIGH in demand. So if the interest in Gen Z is so in demand and saturated, how does Gabby effectively use this as a niche? She would tell you by being specific, consistent, and committed. When you go to her Instagram, it’s in her name and bio that she is a resource for Gen Z travel. When you go to her website, it is in her mission statement and further supported by the content on her page. If you want to know about what Gen Z is doing in the travel industry, you go to Gabby, and that’s the whole point and advantage of establishing a niche.

Since I decided to launch a YouTube channel, I have consistently been trying to answer the question, “What is my niche?” What makes people engage with my content? What can attract new people? What is my competitive advantage over others pursuing the same path? That is something I have been more seriously thinking about more recently than ever and this webinar felt like divine intervention. As you all know, I have been underwhelmed by the sessions I have attended regarding content creation. This session, however, was so much more timely, relatable, and on the nose because it was not only hosted by someone a year younger than me, but also because she is the face of her content/business/service. This is exactly the kind of person I needed to hear from.
If you’re like me, you probably don’t think you have a niche because you’ve grown up not being especially good at any one thing, but you know a lot of information about many things; you work hard and succeed when you put your mind to something, but don’t necessarily spend your waking hours trying to improve processes; and, finally, you have a lot of interests instead of hyperfocusing on one thing and you enjoy having that variety. In conclusion, it’s possible to have just one niche. This is true, but it’s also true that you can also have more than one niche. We are in the age of the multi-hyphenate. Nowadays, everyone, especially Millennials, has multiple skills that have leveraged them into the position they are in now. (Watch this video by one of my favorite people, Issa Rae–the creator of one of my all-time favorite shows, Insecure, on HBO and the first role model I had that it’s okay to be an Awkward Black Girl) Gabby placed great emphasis on layered niches in her presentation. For example, you have a product that you believe could help women, but have seen that more women in their 40s have responded to it and are okay with your price point–there are three niches right there! It’s all about finding what works for you, if the story makes sense, and if that’s how you want yourself or your product to be marketed as.

If you’re still someone like me who used to think it’s best to be stay broad so you’re not limiting yourself to potential opportunities and audiences, let me share Gabby’s reasons for why it is important to have a niche:
1. Establishes you as an expert
2. Attracts a specific audience which can lead to more frequent and genuine engagement
3. Establishes trust
4. Easier to convert your audience into future customers
Not everyone does what they love for money, but we all can’t deny how nice it would be to make money from it. What good does it do you if your content/product is broad enough to reach everyone, but doesn’t particularly stick with anyone? As someone who has academic degrees in two very broad topics, I understand the safety in being able to use information for various situations and the ability to be flexible. But if you are seriously trying to amplify your platform, you need a dedicated audience who is genuinely interested in you and whatever it is that you are promoting. Having a niche definitely helps in achieving that and being authentic helps sustain that–specific, consistent, and committed.

I don’t want to give away everything Gabby shared, so the replay of this webinar is now available on Black Travel Alliance’s YouTube channel. Be sure to subscribe and, again, be sure to follow their social media and join the alliance!! If it hadn’t been for the webinar Black Travel Summit hosted, I would have never started following Jeff Jenkins, one of the founding members, and I could have been in the dark about their great work and subsequently this webinar. I am feeling much more inspired. It will be a gradual change in my content across my platforms, but I am so excited to find and start developing my niche!! πŸ™‚

xx, AE

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