Picking a niche.
If you’ve spent anytime online searching for help with freelance writing I’m sure you’ve come across this topic. Truthfully I don’t think there is a “right” answer. It depends on you, the writer, and it depends on what sorts of jobs you’re interested in.
Are you an expert?
If you spent 20 years working in Finance or IT, yes, I think you should stick with your niche. At least at first! With 20 years of experience you can certainly speak at an “expert” level. If you have past experience in certain types of subjects (meaning subjects that people want to read!) then definitely stick with that niche and find jobs related to your past experiences.
What are your interests?
But maybe you didn’t have 20 years of dedicated experience to a highly sought after subject. Maybe you’ve had a few “odd” jobs over the years and want to try your hand at freelance writing to allow you freedom from a traditional job, the ability to work anywhere and provide a better future for you and your family. That’s me!
I don’t necessarily have a niche, but I do have certain subjects that I prefer over others, and certain subjects I consider myself more knowledgeable/interested in. Those topics include:
- Saving money/living frugally (learned by living this sort of lifestyle for years)
- Trying to be a more socially/environmentally conscious consumer (again, learned by trying to live this way)
- Parenting (because I am a parent)
- Health and Fitness (I am very passionate about these subjects and have learned so much through personal experience and studying)
- Pet Ownership (I have the pleasure of owning 4 cats)
- Freelance writing/virtual assistant work (After landing my first client I fell in love with working at home, on my own time, while being able to take care of my kids full-time)
I didn’t work in any of these fields. All of them are my own interests and honestly I could probably come up with a few more. So what about you?
The “no niche” niche
By having 6 major topics that I enjoy learning/writing about, I definitely don’t think I have a niche when it comes to freelance writing. And that’s ok! I am able to still apply for writing jobs and paid guest posts because of my cover letter, which allows me to convince them to hire me based on my interests and experiences.
ACTION: Think about your own life and answer the following questions:
- What are my interests
- What do I have experience with
- What could I learn more about
- Who do I know that I could help and they could help me (another blog owner, small business owner, local non profit, etc.)
Part of building your expert level is getting experience. And we all know “you need experience to get experience” – so use what you’re already done in life to get a few writing projects completed. This does not all need to be focused on one subject. For example, when I started freelance work I found jobs in the following order:
- WordPress website set up/Facebook page management
- Virtual assistant work via Upwork
- Contribute to online fitness website
- Contribute to online pet-focused website
- Contribute to freelance writing site
Two of those jobs were through acquaintances. The rest were due to cover letters and writing samples.
There is no right answer
There are freelance articles floating around that try to give you an idea why your writing isn’t taking off. They may claim that’s due to having a niche or not having a niche. The truth is, it depends on the individual. Think about what people want to read about – personally that’s why I like to focus on Health/Fitness and Money Saving Tips – who doesn’t want to be healthier or save money? But if those topics don’t interest you, don’t focus on them.
You need to like your writing and people need to want to read your writing. So find the happy balance. Having a niche or not having a niche will not make or break your writing career. But it is good to have subjects in mind when looking for writing jobs, and it’s a great way to brainstorm for new writing jobs. For example, when I first started thinking about freelance writing I brainstormed for a while before “remembering” that an old classmate runs a local health and fitness website. I found a posting asking for contributions and contacted him. It wasn’t a cold pitch since the site requested contributions and it was easy for me since I knew the website editor. I contributed to the site and his site got content, win-win! Everyone has a few win-win opportunities like that, you just need to find them. Maybe your first one won’t be paid (and that’s ok) – you need experience! But maybe your next one will be.