The main benefit of having a freelance writing niche is that you’ll come to be seen by clients as an expert in your field — and that means more prestige and job satisfaction.
(Translation: you’ll be happier and make more money.)
There is plenty of work for freelance writers looking to make a living online. While this sounds like good news, it also means that most newbie writers leap in blindfolded, doing whatever work they can get their eager hands on.
People only offer a pittance per article on content mills and certain freelancing sites because there are people willing to do them.
By failing to concentrate on a particular subject area or industry, you risk casting your net too widely and trying to speak to everyone so that no one can actually hear you.
Finding your focus means clients will focus on you.
If you pitched to a client in a large hall the size of a football stadium packed full of people — some shouting loudly, others just chatting away among themselves — do you really think they would actually listen? Of course not.
But that’s what you’re doing if you pitch for any old writing work covering any topic in any medium, and hoping for the best.
If you’ve already dipped your toes into the world of freelance writing then you’ve probably been guilty of this approach to finding work — and this is fine for getting writing clips and client testimonials.
The problem is, new writers tend to stick with this approach for far too long because they don’t know what else to do.
Having a niche will not only firm up in your own mind what you want out of your writing career and propel you towards your ultimate goals, it will also tell potential clients what you’re all about.
(Translation: they’ll know you’re the real deal.)
Get ready to earn more
High earning writers focus on a particular subject or topic that they have a lot of experience in and enjoy writing about. My core niche when I started out was travel.
By focusing on this, I worked my way up to blogging for some of the biggest travel companies in the world. Now I’m doing the same in the charity sector. I’m an expert in my niche and clients know they can rely on me to come up with the goods.
You can even leverage the benefits of your core niche when pitching to clients that aren’t in that industry.
By mentioning the well-known travel and charity giants I worked for (and pointing out a few links to my work on high-profile websites) I communicate to clients in other niches that I’m reliable, hardworking and highly competent. All benefits you have to pay a premium to experience, right?
I’ve no doubt that if I’d never concentrated so hard on a particular niche I would have acquired that level of work to show off to potential new clients.
A note on niche mediums
You can also turn what type of writing you offer into a niche. Writing for the web is a niche in itself. But you can drill it down further.
You may find you have a particular knack (and demand) for communicating small businesses’ messages with the website pages you write. Perhaps you find clients love your press releases, blog posts, or emails, so you decide to focus on one of those as your niche.
Either way, the type of writing you offer can be turned into a niche just as much as which topics you write about.
How do I work out my niche?
OK, let’s hone in on your particular mission, angle, market, and/or topic. You need to find your sweet spot — your true and specific calling when it comes to writing. You need to identify your unique interests, your knowledge, and your experience.
Take these three steps to find your freelance writing niche:
1. Write down three general topics that you love writing about, i.e. gardening, travel, social media.
2. Take these general subject areas and drill down each one into a sub-topic you enjoy writing about. For example, a sub-topic for gardening might be growing roses. For travel it might be backpacking in Europe. For social media it might be Twitter for small businesses. You get the idea.
3. Take a look at your sub-lists and see if there is anything there you could get paid to write about on a regular basis. Do some research. What’s popular online? What’s in demand? Be creative, but also realistic — you have to see that there’s a demand for this type of work.
Extra tips — because finding your niche can be tricky
If you’re having trouble finding your niche, consider these questions in addition to the above:
- What are you the ‘go-to’ person for among your friends and family? What does everybody ask for your help or advice with?
- What do you read about until 2am, until your eyelids ache and your mind is fuzzy yet alert with a strange blend of tiredness and exhilaration? Whatever that thing is, trust me, you know about that topic, which means you’ve got to ask yourself: will clients pay me to write about this?
Stick with it?
Don’t think that if you pick a freelance writing niche that you have to stick to it rigidly. Instead, view having a niche as your core business that naturally could change direction as your writing career develops.
Many successful writers explore a number of niches over the course of their careers.
Finding your freelance writing niche may happen more naturally, but by working through the above questions, you’ll have a decent head-start compared to those writers pitching for every topic and seeing which sticks.