There is one big question freelance writers must tackle regardless of their experience or career length: niche or no?
Newbie writers will read article upon article and blog upon blog touting the importance of finding a niche, picking a niche, taking a niche out on a date…Veterans will find themselves bombarded with articles and posts on when it’s time to leave a niche, switch, combine, create a Frankenstein and give a manic laugh…
The truth is – you have a choice.
1. Building a good reputation as a writer is important. Getting steady work is important as well. Niche writing can set a writer up as a knowledgeable, working expert in the subject matter, that writer can then leverage their experience for more work.
2. Depending on the niche, not only can you establish yourself as a leader, you can do it fairly quickly. It’s hard to believe given the abundance of writers out there, but there are some niches that are so specialized there aren’t a lot of people writing for them.
3. A writer who can establish themselves in areas that have a denser concentration of writers earn the distinction of being a pack leader – that translates to dollars and work (and tons of Twitter followers).
4. Passionate pursuits are another reason why people head toward specific subjects. I’m a “write what you live” kindof girl and my body of work reflect my current passions – writing, business/finance and parenting. It is often the passion of a subject that drives a writer to write so staying within their passion is a perfectly natural course.
5. It’s an easy road map, but a challenging road. Say you are passionate about WordPress themes. You review the site daily, keep up on the coolest developers and plug-ins, etc. You decide to to plant a flag in the WordPress blogger game. Everyday you know what you’ll be writing about – in general. You’ll know the types of publications and web sites you want to write for, etc. The challenge? Finding those sites and publications, breaking in, keeping subjects and angles fresh and continuing to learn more after exhaustive study.
1. A writer can build up a steady work and a reputation just by being a good writer, it doesn’t have to be within a niche.
2. Niche burnout. It sucks and without properly identifying it, it can extinguish the passion for writing. Many writers cannot fathom writing about one or two subjects for an extended period of time.
3. This last one is a secret: You can do both. It is perfectly fine to have a core subject or group of subjects while dating other types of articles and writing in general. Freelance writing is the ultimate open relationship. Success comes from great writing, a solid work ethic, and a viable set of goals. How you reach them is completely up to you.
Are you having trouble picking a niche? Thinking about changing or leaving niche writing all together? Tell us below!
I decided long ago that I wouldn’t pick and stick with a niche. Why, well I love variety. Sure there are some things I prefer to write about, but I also want to expand my knowledge base.
Now maybe one day when I am more established, I’ll stick to one thing. But for now I’ll take whatever comes my way.
Terreece M. Clarke says
Thanks for weighing in Chris. How long have you been at it? Writing that is? Is there anything that would make you change your mind about picking a niche?
I’d like any generalists earning six figures as a freelance writer to weigh in on your comments below.
Because I don’t know any.
Everyone who earns well that I’ve ever encountered has at least one specialized niche they work. Of course, nothing wrong with having more than one. But I’ve never seen the “I write a bit about a lot of things” strategy pay off well.
Being a generalist can be more fun if you need a lot of variety…and as long as earning big isn’t something you need.
Interesting post —
Terreece M. Clarke says
That’s the thing about FWJ I love, we have such a variety of opinions, we always have great conversations and debates and the topic of niche writing is no different.
I used to believe there wasn’t a way for writers to make headway if they didn’t follow the prescribed, well-worn tips on picking a niche and dominating it. However, as I’ve witnessed writing and blogging’s evolution, I’ve seen, met and hang out with some ‘money-earnin’ writers that have the fun habit of defying expectations and standard writing routes to success. I’ll let them talk about it on here if they choose.
I’m glad you found the post interesting though, that’s way better than dull or worse – typical!
@ Carol- I don’t earn six figures by any means, but I do know some who come pretty close that don’t really have a niche. Unless you consider “copywriting” a niche.
Hi, just found this topic, not sure if it will rise to the surface or not, but I’m finding a hard time picking a niche. I’ve been in advertising over.15 years and wrote for all needs; packaging, brochures, presentations, and scripts. I’ve quit the corporate rate race and am now a full time freelancer. Social is attractive to me, as I believe it will only become more in demand and is ever changing and I like researching my subjects. Ideas? Does this sound viable for a six-figure income? Thanks !!
I owned and operated a AAAA advertising agency for nearly thirty-five years, so this has given me a broad range of experience in many businesses and industries. I’m curious and excitable by nature so I found advertising and marketing to be fascinating and a lot of fun. For me, this was a perfect way to make a living and enjoy doing so at the same time.
I pity those people who haven’t found their personal niche or several niches because that can cause their life and work can be unnecessarily dreary and hard. Sadly, they will soon burn out and leave a whole area of their lives bereft of satisfaction and enjoyment. Being objective about their personal skills and abilities is very difficult, but it can reveal so much that lays hidden in the back of our minds. So much so that if person continues to work in the directions they find most interesting, then they will eventually find a place for themselves by nothing more than serendipity. And that in itself is interesting.
In my opinion, too many people quit too soon. They make the common mistake of expecting immediate success and gratification, and when that doesn’t come when they think it should they feel they’ve failed.
The thing is, no one knows what they don’t know. Said a different way, a person doesn’t realize how much they have yet to learn. Life is a learning process that never ends, nor should it. No one in the world knows all the answers to everything. Some poor souls don’t even know the right questions to ask. That can be a problem. Serious contemplation and circumspection is a must for a writer. To become better at doing anything is always a matter of asking the right questions of those who have more experience.
The most important thing for a writer to know without a shadow of doubt, is that everything is about emotions. Emotions drive every decision and every action and reaction. Those who refuse to believe this will find themselves unable to understand others. The range of one’s writing abilities become severely limited to writing as if one is talking to a rock. Little is expected of a rock.