An Activists Formula for Identifying Niche Audiences


I wish I’d known about this ten years ago when I started my first activism website.

Working through this next step of identifying and defining my niche audience for Digital Activist Media made me think of my first baby…

When I founded the adult entertainer advocacy website,, my audience was “female exotic dancers.” With a target audience that was so specific, the site experienced considerable growth in a short amount of time. I thought it was a fluke.

My activism circles widened, and I became aware of many people using the site in a way they referred to as “lurking” because they didn’t feel welcome to participate being outside the definition of “female exotic dancer.”

That was when I made my fatal mistake. I opened up the site to a very broad audience. The entire adult entertainment industry and all its various participants and supporters.

Although memberships skyrocketed and continued to grow over several years, participation in the community was minimal; mainly a small group of regular customers and a few current and former sex industry workers.

Despite many tries at selling advertising on the site, forays into affiliate marketing, and a near attempt to create a paid membership site (which I now realize likely would have also failed); I was unable to earn an income off the site.

With a membership in the thousands, and a massive community needing moderation and management (not to mention the cost of running the site) – I knew I either needed to earn an income from the site or kill it. Make it into something manageable. A blog.

So, that is what I did.

It wasn’t until recently when I began my research into earning an income online that I realized my fatal mistake.


My first mistake when I re-branded to be more inclusive was having too broad of an audience.

I targeted a huge audience which made the site sort of “watered down,” if you know what I mean. I asked what my own problem was: Namely, no time to run the site because I had a job and a family.

I was thinking in terms of the end goal, rather than about what kind of “product” (my website) I was providing.

At I was speaking to the choir.

My research led me to ask myself two questions. As an activist:

  1. “What is my main goal?” and
  2. “Who must I reach to attain this goal.”

So, I thought about it. And I came up with this:

  1. At, my main goal is promoting health and safety in the sex industry.
  2. I must reach people who can directly influence health and safety in the sex industry (frontline community support workers, researchers, and enforcement agencies) and connect them with information resources, and experts (sex workers).

Once I identified and defined my niche audiences, I was able to begin to think like them. I asked myself, “What are community support workers thinking when it comes to the adult entertainment industry? How can they support health and safety in the sex industry. What can they do to help me reach my goals as an activist?”

Not identifying and defining my niche audiences was my first mistake with My second mistake was not solving my audience’s problem.

For that, I needed to do some research. I will tell you all about that research in another post.

Suffice to say that identifying my niche audiences was mind blowing enough for one day. I came away with a real nugget of new media marketing wisdom for activists:

Choose who you’re trying to reach based on whether they can help you achieve your activism goals. Then speak their language.

Did this blog post make you wonder if you’re targeting the right audience? Please share your comments below. xoxo

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