When I tell new freelance writers that they will have more success by picking one niche and growing their writing business in it, I am met with resistance. Some writers are afraid to pick one topic and close off possible opportunities. Other writers feel that they are well-versed in many topics, so it is hard for them to choose.
Trust me. Niching down can help elevate your writing authority and your rates. Here’s how to pick the right niche once and for all.
1. Make a List
Most advice I give in life starts with making a list. I can’t help it; I love lists. This list isn’t meant to be anything time-consuming, just a quick way to process which niches you are interested in. Write down everything you think you are qualified to write about and anything you would love to write about. Write down why you want to write about it as well. This list should only take you a few minutes to jot down. Don’t overthink it!
Here would be my list and my reasoning behind it:
- Motherhood (I love being a mom and feel like I have a decent amount of experience)
- Cooking (I do this like three times a day, so I must be pretty okay at it)
- Money (Now I am an expert, but when I first started writing, I liked to talk about saving money and couponing. I actually didn’t know a lot about finances nor did I have large amounts of money)
- Business (I love reading about business strategies/management)
- Productivity (I love reading and practicing productivity skills)
- Homeschooling (I love homeschooling my girls)
2. Edit Your List Based on Likes
Got your quick list? Great! Cross off anything you don’t want to spend hours of eye-poking research on. Most outlets aren’t looking for fluffy essays or articles on the basics that anyone that is breathing can write. Instead, they need in-depth pieces that require more research or expert interviews. Be prepared to talk about your niche to death and figure out hundreds of new ways to dress it up and sell it.
When I first freelance writing, I wrote about colon health, chiropractic care, baby fashion, and saving money. Turns out I am not a medical professional and should not be talking about these topics. I also did not want to become one. As far as baby fashion goes, it can be hard to find new words for overpriced, gaudy fashions that will only be worn once. Saving money was the only thing that stuck, but at the time. I was good about being frugal, so I enjoyed writing how to save money on certain areas of life.
Shortly into my money writing career, editors and content managers started saying they were tired of publishing the same basic stuff. They wanted fresh perspectives and interesting angles. Editors started assigning articles that were way out of my comfort range, such as insurance policy pieces. Sometimes it took a lot of effort to pull myself through the sludge of tedious work, but many times I was excited to learn more about different areas of finance. Many years of just focusing on finance writing, and I still feel like I can squeeze some fresh ideas out.
You don’t have to stick with your niche forever. However, the longer you can build yourself up in one industry, the more authority you will have on the topic.
3. Edit Your List Based on Experience
Is there anything on your list that you love but aren’t experienced at? I am always appalled when a celebrity becomes a new mom and then shortly after their baby is born, they have a book on parenting out. I am even more appalled that anyone reads that book. They are probably great mothers, but having a seven-month old baby does not make you an expert on parenthood. You haven’t even lived through tantrums and toilet training.
With this thought in mind, I would cross out homeschooling and business off my list. As much as I enjoy the topics personally, I have never actually spent a day in an office, and I have only homeschooled through the easy years so far (K-2nd).
I do believe you can become an expert on anything, but when it comes to picking a niche to start your freelance writing career, choosing a topic you already have authority in can make it easier to land a job.
This might be the time that you reconsider your resume. If you were a nurse for the past 10 years, but you want to freelance as a religious writer, it can be done. However, your solid experience in the nursing field will make it easier for you to snag medical or nurse-related writing jobs. Once you have writing experience, you can then make the niche switch. Bottom line: don’t throw away your rich work experience for a niche you are more passionate about.
4. Do Your Research
By now, you should have a smaller list of niches. If you still don’t know which niche to choose, start researching. Are there a lot of freelancers in that niche? Are there a lot of outlets or companies that need content marketing in that niche?
I strongly suggest to follow the niche that has more opportunities and money attached to it. For example, real estate writing is going to be more profitable than writing about glassblowing because a large percentage of individuals will need a real estate agent at one point. Billion-dollar companies like Zillow, U-Haul, and Keller Williams pour millions into customer acquisition strategies, which means real estate blogs, websites, and publications earn money for promoting the big companies. That means they are able to pay writers well and keep them on contract for continuous work.
By all means, pursue writing about glassblowing, but don’t expect to replace your full-time job with that income.
Just Pick One Already
Don’t stay on the fence about which niche to pick. Just pick one already! Focus on it and follow it through to your first paycheck. You don’t have to marry this niche, but you do have to commit time and effort to it if you want to see fruit. If you end up hating the niche after several months, then you can try a new niche guilt free.
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