Audience Mapping, The Niche Creator's Secret Weapon

NOTE: This post originally appeared on my other site, Filmmaker Freedom. Though its language is geared towards indie filmmakers, the process of “audience mapping” can be used by any type of creator or entrepreneur. It’s most powerful for people who want to deeply understand their niche so they can tell more resonant stories and create work that matters. If that sounds like you, read on.

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So, you’ve chosen the perfect niche for your films. And you’ve done the research to ensure it can support you financially. Now what?

Well, one option is to just start making films and marketing yourself.

Just taking those two prerequisite steps—finding and validating your niche—puts you ahead of 95% of other indie filmmakers in terms of building a sustainable business around your work.

But there’s one more piece to this niche puzzle—one that’ll help you create and communicate in such magnetic, compelling ways that when you release a new film, the folks in your niche won’t be able to whip out their wallets fast enough.

It’s a technique called “audience mapping,” and it’ll be your secret weapon for creating content and telling stories that are so specific, so emotionally-resonant, and so custom-tailored to your niche, that people will feel like you’re reading their minds.

They’ll feel connected to you and your work in ways that most filmmakers never experience. It’s that connection that opens the door to creating true fans, and building a sustainable long term business around films you care about.

That, my friend, the power of an audience map, and you’re about to learn exactly how to create one of your own.

What is an “audience map” anyway?

Quite simply, an audience map is a document that helps you communicate effectively with your niche.

On the surface, it’s a marketing tool. It’s a list of places this group hang out, a dictionary of niche-specific jargon, and a map of the topics and ideas they care most about.

But audience maps go so much deeper.

It’s also a tool that helps you understand both the outer and inner worlds of the people you serve. It’s a map of their most cherished beliefs, their deepest desires, darkest fears, and dominant worldviews.

As filmmakers, the essence of our craft is telling stories that elicit emotion. If we do our jobs well, our films will ring true on a gut level, and create memorable, meaningful experiences that stay with the audience long after the credits roll.

This is the real power of an audience map. It helps you make films that have that effect on people.

So yes, on the surface, audience maps are a marketing tool. They’re a roadmap for creating messages and brand assets that earn the attention and trust of your niche.

But audience maps really shine when it comes to creating meaningful art. And if you’re anything like me, that’s why you got into filmmaking in the first place—to tell stories that matter.

Basically, when it comes to creating niche media and building a business around it, an audience map is more like a treasure map.

It’s your single source of truth for reaching your niche and creating things people actually want.

If that sounds good to you, let’s dig into the mechanics of building out this glorious document, shall we?

How to build an audience map

Building an audience map is not particularly complicated. It’s literally just a document with a list of categories that you fill in over time.

That said, the process is rather involved, nuanced, and time-consuming. I want to disabuse you of any notions that it’ll be a quick, easy thing.

Much like other areas of life and business, the more attention you pay to your audience map, the more impactful the rewards you’ll reap. If you phone it in, you can’t expect much.

So if I haven’t scared you off, let’s get into the weeds on how to build an audience map.

For starters, much like the niche research process, you’re going to need a digital (or even physical) document of some kind. Ideally it’s in a place that you can easily access it and add to it.

I use an app called Notion, and like before, I made a handy template you can simply duplicate into your account.

If you’re interested in my audience map template, here’s how to get it.

  • First, click here create your own Notion account. It’s free.
  • Then click here to see my research database template.
  • In the upper righthand corner, you should see the option to duplicate the template into your new account.
  • Click that, and voila! You’ve now got an audience map all set up and ready to go.

However, if you don’t care for Notion, or have an app you like better, you do you.

Regardless, I recommend simply copying and pasting all the categories from my template above into your app of choice.

All done? Okie dokie, let’s continue.

When and how to build your audience map

If you read the previous article on conducting niche research, you know the process is broken out into two distinct phases.

First, you do high level research to determine financial viability. Then comes deep dive research, which helps you ensure the niche is a good fit for you personally.

The best time to start filling out your audience map is during deep dive research, once you’ve decided to fully commit to the niche.

Now, as a quick refresher, deep dive research is all about total immersion. You join all the communities, participate in conversations, consume the content, etc.

That’s why this is the perfect time to start building out your audience map, as it’s likely the most engaged and focused you’ll ever be on the intricacies of the ecosystem.

As for how to do it, there are no rules. But there are ways to make it more efficient. So here’s the process I teach students in my courses and in my consulting work.

  1. Before doing any immersion, review all of the categories of the audience map. This way, your brain is primed to spot insights it otherwise wouldn’t.
  2. Add notes to your audience map contemporaneously. In other words, when you spot something that belongs in one of the categories, add it right away. Otherwise, you’ll surely forget (speaking from experience here).
  3. When possible, pull direct quotes from people in your niche. In the marketing world, this is known as “voice of customer” data, and it’s super useful for both marketing and storytelling purposes.

And that’s the process in a nutshell.

The only other thing I want to mention before we dig into the categories of an audience map is the continuous nature of it.

You might do most of your audience mapping in the latter phases of niche research, but the process should never stop.

If you continue to spend time in a niche, you will continue to find valuable new insights. So, don’t ever assume your audience map is done.

And with that, it’s now time to get into the weeds of how an audience map works and what it contains.

cracks knuckles

The Categories of an Audience Map

The audience map is broken into two distinct sections—the outer world of your niche, and the inner world of the people within it.

These two sections are what allow you to create content and tell stories that reflect the reality of the people in your niche, all while being resonant on an emotional level.

So let’s dig into each of these, and the sub-categories they contain.

Outer World

The outer world is exactly what it sounds like. It’s the visible reality for people in your niche.

Here are the sub-categories you’ll want to document for the outer world.

What are the best places to reach my niche online?

First up, you’ll want to list out the places your niche is most active online.

This might be specific platforms like Facebook or YouTube. But it should be more precise than that.

List out specific communities, groups, forums. Make note of the most popular, engaged places where you can directly post your content.

And to make life easier for future-you, add links to all of these places so that you can get to them quickly when promoting something new.

You might also consider listing out the social media hashtags that are popular within the niche in this section.

What types/forms of content do they engage with the most?

Throughout your niche research process, you will have likely noticed trends regarding popular types of content in your niche.

Do the people in this niche love podcasts? Do they live on social and eat up live-streamed videos? Do they voraciously read and comment on blogs?

In this section, just list out the content forms that are most popular and most familiar to the niche. You can even link to some pertinent examples if you need inspiration.

Also, while you’ll generally want to stick to these formats for your marketing content, don’t think this means you can’t produce anything outside of these forms.

It’s just going to be harder to earn the niche’s attention, and you might have to train them to consume content in forms they’re not used to.

What are the most popular recurring topics within the niche?

This one’s important.

Throughout your research, you’ll want to make note of the topics, themes, and ideas that reliably generate engagement in the niche.

What are the ideas at the center of the most active conversations? What are the topics of the most popular content?

And finally, what are the topics where there’s relative consensus in the niche—where most everyone agrees it’s good or bad?

List all of these out, and combine them with what you’ve got in the first two categories, and voila, you’ve got a roadmap to effective content marketing in this niche.

What are the hot button and divisive topics?

Here’s where things start to get a little spicy.

You’ll want to list out the topics that people in the niche don’t agree on, and that reliably generate outbursts of emotion.

In other words, what topics generally devolve into internet pissing matches? What topics get people all riled up.

Having this information at your fingertips is extraordinarily powerful, as it allows you to create massive engagement at will. It gives you the ability to poke the proverbial bee’s nest, should that be something that will help you get your films and content further into the world.

It should go without saying, but be careful here.

For starters, if you come down on a particular side of a contentious issue, you run the risk of alienating a good part of your target audience. Don’t do this unless it’s an intentional choice for your business.

Also, if you’re launching divisiveness grenades into your niche too frequently, it will degrade people’s perception of you over time. You’ll be seen less as an honest broker of art and content, but as a provocateur, a rabble rouser if you will.

Point is, this is one of those tools that’s incredibly useful, as it allows us to stir up the more emotional parts of our niche. But for that reason, we have to be responsible.

Who are the enemies and antagonists in the niche narratives?

Nothing bonds groups of people together like a shared enemy. It’s a survival mechanism hardwired into us from our earliest days on this planet.

Almost any group or niche you stumble on online will have real or perceived enemies.

In political niches, it’s the opposing party. For nerdy high school kids, it might be the jocks. In the world of indie film, it’s predatory distribution companies and platforms like Distribber.

(Speaking of Distribber, here’s my list of best alternative aggregators right now.)

These common enemies unite people and give them something to rally around. They stir up a powerful stew of connection and righteousness.

And as a creator and entrepreneur, you’d be crazy not to use this to your advantage.

So for this stage of the audience map, list out the enemies and antagonists in this niche.

It might consist of certain ideas or ideologies. It might be certain companies. It might be cultural trends. It might be certain behaviors. And of course, it might be a specific person or group.

However, if it’s another person or group, you need to be cognizant of what you’re doing, and be very, very careful.

There’s nothing more dangerous in the human psyche than our penchant for dehumanizing others when they’re perceived as an enemy. I can’t think of an atrocity throughout history that can’t be traced back to dehumanization in some way.

So please, if you’re creating media that emphasizes a shared enemy in the niche, be aware that you have a responsibility not to dehumanize. It’s immoral and it’s dangerous. Don’t do it.

What jargon or group-specific language does this niche use?

Ok, those last two sections were a little heavy. So let’s tackle an easy one now.

For this category, you’re going to hunt for jargon. In other words, what language is unique to this niche?

Is there a specific name they call themselves? Is there slang that only people in this niche use? Are there any words or phrases that mean one thing to the rest of the world, but something different for people in the niche? Are there technical words or processes that only people in the niche talk about?

You’re going to list out anything and everything you find in terms of unique and recurring language patterns.

Then you can use it in your content, on your website, etc. And if you’re making narrative films, you can use it to write dialogue that is delightfully authentic.

Pretty cool, huh?

How do they spend money in relation to the niche?

In terms of building a business in the niche, this is a category you’ll want to pay particularly close attention to.

You’re going to list out all the ways people spend money in relation to the niche.

Are there niche-specific products? Is there gear and accessories? What about clothing? If there are niche websites with ads, or content with sponsors, what’s being advertised?

Do people in this niche directly support any creators through product purchases or Patreon or anything like that?

Make note of anything and everything that involves money changing hands in relation to the niche.

In case you hadn’t guessed, the reason this is important is that you’re uncovering the various ways you’ll be able to earn a living here.

Sure, you’ll likely be selling your films, but this type of research helps you find ways to create ancillary products and secondary revenue streams, which are crucial for building a sustainable long term business.

What does an average day/week look like for someone in this niche?

Ok, now for one of my favorite categories in the audience map.

For this stage, you’re going to put your anthropologist hat on and make note of the common occurrences in the lives of people in the niche.

What reliably happens to people that’s related to their participation in the niche? How does their identity show up in their day-to-day lives?

I realize this is kind of abstract, so here’s an example.

If you happen to be targeting the vegan niche, you’d want to list out all of the ways that veganism plays out in people’s lives.

How does it impact their relationships with friends and family? How does it play out at work? How is grocery shopping different when you’re a vegan? What about when they go out on a first date and the other person orders a cheeseburger?

If you hadn’t already guessed, this list is the one that helps you create insanely relevant content and tell stories that are tailor-made to your niche.

Are there any dates that are significant to people in the niche?

Finally, we’ve come to the last category in the outer world section of the audience map—significant dates.

Simply list out dates that mean something to the people in this niche.

Are there niche-specific holidays or anniversaries? What about significant events?

For instance, in the niche of comic fandom, ComicCon is often the pinnacle of the year for people.

This is good information to have, as you may want to use these dates to launch a film or somehow piggyback off the attention they generate.

Inner World

Ok, now that we’ve tackled the outer world, let’s get to the juicy stuff—the inner world. of the people in your niche.

Here are the sub-categories you’ll want to start filling out.

What are this group’s deepest dreams and desires?

We’re going to start with listing out various types of goals and desires that are common to your niche.

But to understand why this is so powerful, a quick detour into how to tell good stories.

At the heart of all powerful storytelling is a character the audience can empathize with, who desires something, encounters obstacles, and experiences some kind of personal transformation along the way.

Those are the elements that underlie all great storytelling frameworks, from the Hero’s Journey, to everything Robert McKee does, to the Muse process. It’s all pretty much the same.

Character -> Desire -> Obstacles -> Transformation

What we’re doing in this “inner world” section of the audience map is pulling together all of these elements, along with a few others.

Once you have them, you’ll be able tell stories that are so specific and resonant for the people in your niche, that competition from more generic media becomes practically irrelevant. You will have earned the attention of this small segment of the market.

And this isn’t just about crafting stories for your films. All of the insights in this section of the audience map can be used across your marketing content, your website, your ads, or anywhere else you communicate with your niche.

So, with all of that context in mind, we’re going to kick things off by talking about desire.

And there are two distinct types of desire that you’ll want to look out for.

Outer desires and goals

External desires are exactly what they sound like. They’re tangible goals that people are chasing through action in the real world. Easy peasy.

Let’s take my friend Mike Dion as an example. His niche is bikepacking—a sport that combines endurance cycling with backpacking. Basically, those people who ride for days or weeks with nothing more than what’s in their backpack.

For people in this niche, their external goals might be something like qualifying for, completing, or winning a specific race.

In fact, many of Mike’s films are centered around bikepacking races, and the characters/athletes are competing in said races. So there are goals and conflict built right in.

Anyhow, on a practical note, you’ll want to keep track of all the external goals and desires that you come across during your immersion in the niche.

Simply make note of the things people say they want. Document the goals and outcomes they’re striving for.

Inner desires and goals

Internal desires are a bit more complex and ambiguous.

Very often, we chase external goals not because we want a tangible outcome, but because doing so would satisfy a deep inner need.

Think of this as the subtext for our goals. What’s happening beneath the surface?

Let’s go back to Mike and the bikepacking niche, and let’s.consider an average person—not a professional athlete—who decides to compete in one of these epic races.

Sure, their external goal is to complete the race. But what’s happening beneath the surface?

For my money, they’re most certainly trying to prove something to themselves—or someone in their life. They’re trying to demonstrate that they’re capable of more than they thought possible. They want to feel powerful, like they’ve won an epic battle against the world and against themselves.

Maybe they were overweight for years, and now in their eyes, completing this race is the pinnacle of reclaiming their health and life. It’s a demonstration of how far they’ve come, and how much they’ve transformed into a new person. It’s a great physical achievement, sure, but the underlying symbolism is what makes it meaningful.

So, beneath the surface of this external goal are all sorts of complex intrinsic motivators. There’s a quest for personal mastery, a deep desire to undestand and fulfill their potential, and perhaps a chip on their shoulder.

These are the types of things you want to add to this section of the audience map.

How to find people’s inner desires

Now, I wish I could tell you it was super easy to discover these types of subtextual insights. Sometimes it is, because self-aware folks often share them publicly. But usually, you’ll have to do some digging and critical thinking to find them.

In fact, you’re going to live in the land of educated guesses, as we can never truly know what’s going on in someone else’s head. Luckily though, most everyone on this planet has the same set of psychological needs.

MASLOW’S HIERARCHY OR SOMETHING

Anyhow, here’s how to start sussing out internal goals and desires.

Whenever someone in your chosen niche is talking about an external goal they have—ask yourself, “What is it that they really want here?” or “Why is that important?”

Use your own experience as a reference, along with the list of needs above, and simply make some educated guesses as to the internal needs they’re likely trying to meet by striving for certain goals.

Then, as you spend more time in the niche and talk to people there, start testing your assumptions. Do those same needs show up over and over? Make note of which internal desires are most prevalent in your niche.

Now, I realize this is probably still feeling a bit vague and ambiguous. So here are a few examples just to get you thinking a bit about how this might look in your niche.

  • For comic fans, going to ComicCon in an elaborate cosplay outfit might be the external goal. But by attending, they’re meeting deeper needs, such as fully expressing themselves, and being in an environment where they truly belong. It’s about connection, belonging, and being seen for who they are.
  • For a political niche, the external goal might be winning an election or getting a ballot measure passed. But deep down, it’s about fulfilling needs we have around moral codes, justice, and like before, belonging with our tribe.
  • For the musician niche, the external goal might be getting a record deal. But internally, it’s about validation. It’s about finally knowing that your music, and by extension, yourself, is truly worth something.

Again, it’s not an exact science. But over time, with enough observation and refinement, we can uncover these types of insights.

And when we use them in our work, it becomes far more resonant than any other media our niche is consuming.

What stands in the way of achieving those dreams?

Now that you know what your niche wants, both externally and internally, it’s time to find what stands in the way of those dreams.

And like before, we’re going to divide this into the same two categories.

External obstacles

Like external goals, external obstacles are easy to understand and find. Quite simply, it’s the tangible things and external events that stand in the way of people getting what they want.

Very often, it’s something mundane like lack of time and money. No matter what goals your niche is chasing, chances are these two things are an obstacle for many people.

But don’t limit yourself to the obvious answers. Pay close attention to the pains and frustrations people are expressing in niche communities and forums. Nearly always, at the root of those frustrations is some kind of obstacle that’s preventing them from getting what they want.

Let’s go back to the bikepacking niche for some more concrete examples.

For a bikepacker, some external obstacles might be getting time off and having the funds to travel to a certain race. During the race itself, there are obstacles like gear malfunctions, muscle failure, dehydration, getting lost, etc.

Internal obstacles

Internal obstacles are all about how people get in their own way and sabotage themselves in pursuit of their goals.

Often, these internal obstacles can be seen through people’s self-defeating behavior. Do they procrastinate? Spend money they don’t have? Fail to stick up for themselves? Whatever these self-sabotaging behaviors are, the internal obstacles lie behind them.

And I’ll give you a hint here. That behavior can nearly always be traced back to fear of some sort. It’s one of the dominant drivers of our behavior, and it shows up in all sorts of cunning, well-disguised ways.

For a final time, let’s go back to the bikepacking niche for an example.

Let’s say our hypothetical bikepacker is committed to a race, but for some reason he can’t seem to train regularly. He gets up in the morning, it’s cold outside, and there’s a moment of tension—to head out on his bike, or go back to bed.

Sure, there’s an element of choosing comfort over discomfort here. But more likely than not, in the background there’s some deep fear that he’s not good enough, that he can’t become a new person. He’s terrified that he’ll never transcend the mistakes of his past self, and that fear adds a whole new dimension to this moment where he’s deciding to bike or not.

That’s one example. Here’s another.

Once he’s in the race, there might be a certain point where he encounters an external obstacle—a crash, for instance—that causes another wave of internal obstacles to enter their mind.

In this instance, there’s a war going on in their head. On one side is the negativity and self doubt, the “all the haters were right” voice. On the other side is their idealized self, cheering them on towards meeting these external and internal desires.

From a storytelling perspective, this stuff is pure gold. It’s when we depict a character overcoming their internal demons that we feel most connected and inspired.

What keeps them up at night?

This is sort of a “catch all” category that may not fit into either internal or external obstacles, but it’s still important to consider.

Sometimes, there are things that worry or aggravate the people in any given niche, even though they’re not connected to any discernible goals. This stuff is important to document as well.

So, as you’re doing your deep dive research and audience mapping, keep an eye out for complaints, pains, or emotionally negative rhetoric, and make note of it in this section.

Very often, this has to do with physical or emotional needs that aren’t being met. So take another gander at Maslow’s hierarchy above if you need that lens for this section.

What’s their worldview?

Alright my friend, we’re to the final section of the audience map. And I saved the most challenging category for last.

In its simplest form, the term “worldview” refers to a person’s (or group’s) conception of how the world works.

Sometimes it’s a codified philosophy or ideology—like western liberalism, individualism, collectivism, Judeo Christian theology, atheism, or whatever else.

What’s more likely, though, is that any individual or collective worldview will be a diverse collection of beliefs derived from a variety of sources. Some stem from our parents, others from culture, and still others from our direct experiences.

And while each of us individually has a unique worldview, when we’re talking about groups of people who come together around a shared identity (ie. a niche), very often there’s a shared worldview at the heart of the group.

For storytellers and marketers, this is a powerful thing.

In the context of the audience map, worldviews are important because they help us see the world in exactly the same way as the people in our niche. They help us operate from the same set of base assumptions about “how things are.”

And when we create films and content that speak to and reinforce the collective worldview, we take yet another step towards creating work that’s so emotionally resonant with our niche that competition from other media becomes irrelevant.

So with that said, let’s get into how to start sussing out the worldview of your niche. And there are three categories of beliefs that make up a worldview.

What do they believe about the world (or universe) at large?

For starters, you’ll want to look for overarching beliefs about how the world works.

Do people in your niche tend to view the world through a spiritual lens? An economic one? Do they see the world as inherently violent or peaceful? Do they believe the individual is the core unit of society, or perhaps the family?

If your niche lies in the realm of religion or politics, this’ll be easy. Nearly all religious and political institutions and identities come with overarching beliefs about how the world works. And they’re probably all written down and easy to find.

But if your niche has nothing to do with religion or politics, don’t fret.

More than anything else, you’ll want to start looking for statements that are presented as fact or truth, even though they’re fairly subjective.

For instance, I might say something like “entrepreneurship and free markets are two of the most liberating forces in human history.”

Is that objectively true? Maybe. Or maybe not. But I believe it, and live my life as if it were true. Hence, that would be a core part of my worldview.

So, as you’re doing your deep dive research, look for statements like this and add them to your map.

What do they believe about their specific group/culture? And more specifically, what are the group’s core values?

Shared values are the psychological glue that bonds a group together. And in this section of the audience map, you’re going to list out all of the recurring values you spot throughout the niche.

Like a few of the other sections in the internal world, this can feel a bit abstract. But like other aspects of worldview, values often live in the subtext of what people say and do, which means you’ve got to put on your critical thinking hat to find them.

Here are a few examples for the types of values you might start finding.

If your niche is jazz musicians, the core values might be artistic expression, collaboration, deep connection to jazz history, and community.

If your niche is bikepacking, the core values are likely athletic achievement, personal mastery, love of the great outdoors, and adventure.

Again, it’s not a science finding this stuff, but more of making educated guesses and refining them over time.

However, if you feel completely stuck with this, one thing I recommend is finding your personal core values first. While that’s outside the scope of this article, I highly recommend this article on Scott Jeffrey’s site.

Once you’ve found your own values, you can start making more educated guesses as to which ones show up in your niche.

In addition to outlining a few core shared values, you can also use this section of the audience map to make note of recurring beliefs about how their group fits into the broader culture.

Do they feel like a minority or a victim of larger society (most every group does)? Do they see themselves as more righteous/important than society at large (most every group does)?

Simply list out the ways that people view their group in relation to the broader culture.

And finally, what do individuals in the niche believe about themselves?

This final section is all about the individual people in the niche, and the beliefs they hold about themselves and their place in the larger group.

So you’ll look for statements about what people believe about themselves.

Do they feel a sense of agency in their lives, or do they feel powerless? How do they view their fit within their family, local community, and within the niche? Are they riddled with fear and self-doubt?

Now, a quick warning. Generally speaking, this section isn’t as immediately valuable as the other two worldviews, simply because there’s so much variety in individual beliefs that it may not translate to the rest of the niche.

Remember, one of things we’re trying to do here is catalogue things that are applicable to all of, or the vast majority of, your niche.

So the trick with this section is to be more wary of patterns in beliefs, rather than leaning too heavily into any single one. If it’s something that shows up again and again, then it’s likely fairly universal within the niche.

One question to help you suss out people’s worldviews

If you’re tracking along with this, you’re no doubt thinking to yourself, “all of that makes sense, but how the hell does one find any of this information?” After all, it’s not like people go around spouting off their deepest held beliefs about the world.

So, much like the previous sections on finding inner desire and inner conflict, you’re going to have to dig for the subtext, and extrapolate a worldview from that.

In order to do that, there’s one super powerful question you can use whenever you come across a statement or comment that you feel might be indicative of someone’s worldview.

What would someone have to believe in order to say this?

Let’s take an example from the world of politics, as here in the US we’re in the midst of yet another crazy election, and there’s all sorts of over-the-top rhetoric flying around that’s indicative of deeper worldviews.

For instance, in more progressive circles these days, you often hear phrases like “billionaires should not exist.”

If we were trying to suss out a coherent worldview from that statement, we’d ask ourselves what someone would have to believe to say that. Here are a few ideas that come to mind.

  • They likely believe that money is a finite resource, and that due to a small group’s astronomical wealth, a vast many more people are poor.
  • They likely believe that earning that much money is only possible through exploitation of labor.
  • They likely see capitalism as being inherently flawed, or even immoral.
  • They likely hold equality as a core value, and want a government that creates economic policy based on that value.

These are just some examples of what you could intuit about someone’s worldview from a simple statement.

And with that, you now have everything you need to start building your audience map.

A final thought on building an audience map

As you probably noticed, the audience map has many different sections. Perhaps even an overwhelming amount.

Some will be relatively easy to fill out, while others—particularly the “inner world” variety—will take weeks or months of total immersion to grasp.

That’s totally ok. Don’t feel like you have to get this thing perfectly filled out in one fell swoop.

In fact, it’ll never be complete and perfectly filled out. An audience map is a living, breathing document that will grow as you deepen your relationship with and understanding of the niche.

However, it’s important that you spend some quality, focused time during your research process on audience mapping. As you can hopefully tell, the insights you’ll glean from it are worth their weight in gold when it comes to branding, marketing, and telling stories.

So do the work. It’s not quick or easy, but it’s worth it.

Wrapping up

Alright my friends, that’s a wrap on the audience mapping process, and on this series about niche filmmaking.

Like the last few articles, let’s recap what we’ve covered here.

  • As niche filmmakers, our superpower is being able to create content that’s hyper-specific to a certain niche. This creates a resonance that earns attention in a noisy world.
  • Creating that sense of resonance isn’t a guessing game. You can find all the insights you need during your research process, and record those insights into a document called an audience map.
  • The audience map does several important things. It helps you reach your audience where they are, speak to them in language they understand, and create content/stories that are deeply resonant.
  • The audience map is divided into two sections, the outer world and the inner world.
  • The outer world is about documenting things that are observable in physical reality, while the inner world section is about the underlying psychology of your niche.
  • Audience mapping is an ongoing process. You’ll likely be adding new insights for months or years to come. That said, it’s smart to get a head start and build out as much of the map as possible during the deep dive research process.

And there you have it.

Like I mentioned in the lesson on choosing a niche, this stuff we’ve been covering in this series will account for a solid 80% of whether your business flourishes or flops.

You can devote the next 10 years to mastering the craft of film, and learn all the fanciest marketing strategies and tactics. But none of that will move the needle the way that finding the perfect niche and crafting resonant content for it.

The indie film business as it currently exists is broken beyond belief. This niche approach—though clearly not for everybody—solves many of those problems, and puts more power into the hands of filmmakers.

So, with that in mind, I hope you’ll take everything from this series and run with it. And if you ever have questions, comments, or want to share a case study, just email me at rob @ filmmakerfreedom.com. I’d love to hear from you.

Good luck, and godspeed!

-Rob

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