Are you struggling to pick a niche? Are you finding it hard to narrow down all the areas you want to write about? Are you questioning whether you actually need to “niche down”?
I agonized about finding a niche when I first started out. Everything I read said to pick a niche you have a lot of knowledge and passion for. And that really did not help to narrow it down for me. Nursing. Parenting. Babies/Children. Relationships. Health. Fitness. Writing. Freelancing. I loved them all (and more), had a lot of general and specialist knowledge so how was I meant to pick just one?
So I didn’t.
I write about all of those things and even sometimes dabble in other topics like budgeting, pets and food.
Do not think that you have to narrow your writing down to one specific niche. Pick a few things that go together, as I did. As a freelance writer, my niche is nursing, parenting, babies, health and fitness. See how they all kind of suit and complement each other?
Freelance writers can fall into two separate categories.
Generalists are freelance writers who are open to writing content about any topic.
Specialists narrow down their niche and/or type of writing they produce, such as a grant writer for the disability sector.
I am not saying that you have to be a “generalist” or a “specialist”. You can choose whichever works best for you and your writing business. Market yourself as a specialist, yet still write about other topics. Or market yourself as a generalist whilst developing your skills and knowledge in a particular niche.
If or when you decide you want to “niche down” as the experts say, there are several things you can do to help you decide what area you want to focus on.
Identify where your expertise and knowledge lie.
This step is pretty self-explanatory! What areas do you have the most knowledge and expertise?
I naturally gravitated towards anything health related. I have a Bachelor in Applied Science (Nursing), Bachelor of Health Promotion and Certificate in Critical Care (Cardiac). This background means I am comfortable writing within the health field…and that is super broad. It helps that I am interested in anything health and fitness related!
Your background may be in IT. Or accounting. Or organic beauty products. Perhaps you want to completely branch away from your prior employment and qualifications. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. As long as you follow a direction that you are passionate about and can seek further knowledge in.
What are you passionate about?
Again, self-explanatory! Where do your passions lie? Although I am a qualified registered nurse, I am passionate about babies, children, pregnancy and parenting. So whilst I write about health, my passions dictate the sort of places that I pitch to or apply for jobs at.
What really gets you excited? What topic can you picture yourself writing endless content about?
This is where you can also identify a particular type of freelance writing. Such as white papers, email campaigns, website copy, blog posts, eBooks, ghostwriting, product descriptions. The list is endless. But you may naturally gravitate towards one particular style of writing. In this way, you narrow your niche down even more.
You could be a financial freelance writer who only writes website copy.
You could be a freelance writer who only writes product descriptions for health websites.
Where are the gaps and opportunities in the market?
Once you have identified your passion, skills and knowledge you need to ascertain if there is actually work available in that particular niche.
Jump onto Google (or other search engines) and look for publications, businesses, websites and blogs that may offer you money to write for them.
If you cannot find paid opportunities, or indeed anything out there related to your niche, you might need to take a step back and broaden your niche. Or you have just struck gold and should start your own business/blog around that topic!
Where do all these areas cross over?
Let’s take a look back at all that brainstorming.
- What are you an expert in or knowledgeable and skilled at?
- What are you passionate about? Do you gravitate towards a certain style of writing?
- Where are the opportunities/gaps in the market?
Add all those together and you have your niche!
Go forth and find paying clients!
Once you feel you have found a highly profitable freelance writing niche, it is time to find some paying clients.
You can try:
- Pitching to publications in your chosen niche.
- Cold pitching potential businesses, companies, websites and bloggers.
- Searching on job boards like Problogger, Airtasker, Indeed, GumTree and Craigslist.
- And do not forget to develop your Portfolio!
Now we have spoken about how to find your niche, let’s talk about why freelancers don’t need a niche.
Why freelancers’ don’t need a niche….necessarily.
If after answering all the above questions you are still unsure about what your niche may be then don’t let that hold you back from starting your freelance writing business. Simply start writing.
You can be a “generalist” freelance writer until such a time you want to niche down…if ever!
Don’t fear that this will reflect poorly on you, or that it may hinder your chances of being hired, as it really won’t.
I have varied experience from writing for Mountain Designs (Australian camping and outdoors business) to Essential Baby (an online publication for anything baby related). It has not stopped me. I simply point out different experiences depending on what type of business or publication I am communication with.
“Positioning is really about shining a spotlight on the areas and experience I want to highlight for particular editors or clients.” – Lindy Alexander.
I love this quote by Lindy Alexander. In a post about “Why freelance writers don’t need a niche”, Lindy talks about how she naturally began to highlight different elements of her skills and knowledge depending on whom she was pitching to. Like me, she had spent some time agonizing over choosing a niche before settling on this concept of being a “polymath” – a person who has wide knowledge and learning. Like a generalist freelance writer, it just sounds nicer. Polymath.
So what type of freelance are you? Are you highly specialised? Are you a generalist…that is a polymath? Have you chosen a niche?
And finally, the answer. Do you need a niche to be a successful freelance writer? NO!