This is a big world we live in, and if you look hard enough you’ll find that all of it is being written about. You may wonder why you’d want to limit yourself at all. Pigeonholing yourself into a few, specific niches will severely reduce the number of jobs available to you. Surely more possible work means more actual work, right?
The benefits of specialization
Theodore Roosevelt was a voracious reader. He read so much, in fact, that he was said to be able to have conversations with anyone about almost anything. No matter the topic, no matter the partner, he could always hold his own. Surely, this skill contributed to his success as a politician.
Unfortunately, we can’t all be Teddy. It’s nearly impossible for most people to have an extensive knowledge on a wide variety of subjects. We can either know a little bit about many things or a lot about a few things. And while having an introductory knowledge about a wide variety of topics will leave you with many potential clients – how long can you keep them satisfied?
Good writers need good clients
You see, there are two kinds of clients: the good ones, and everyone else.
Good clients (the only kind you want) have their readers in mind. They want unique content that fascinates their audiences. If you’re writing vanilla, beginner-level pieces, you’re unlikely to be writing anything that the audience doesn’t already know. Eventually, your ideas will dry up and you’ll run out of material. You’re better offer specializing.
Value in expertise
Specialists carve out a niche. They’re experts, and that’s what makes them attractive to clients. They don’t just skim the surface. They go deep, picking apart the subject matter, asking compelling questions, presenting the material in a new way, and that’s what readers like.
Writers without a niche produce articles like: “The Importance of Remaining Calm during Negotiations.”
Niche writers produce: “6 Poker Skills That Will Help You Kick Ass When Negotiating for a Better Contract.”
Being at home in a niche doesn’t just benefit your clients, either. It benefits you too! Although you won’t be contending for as many different types of jobs as you would be without your niche, you’ll be getting more of the jobs that you do bid on. Plus, you’ll be able to command higher pay for the jobs you do get because what you have to say is probably more insightful.
Picking your niche
Hopefully, by now, I’ve convinced you that picking a niche is a wise and profitable decision. Now comes the hard part. You’ve got to pick.
Many people are intimidated by the idea of selecting a niche. What if there are other writers out there that are better than me? How do I decide which one to pick? My advice is to relax and follow that age-old writing wisdom: write what you know.
You don’t have to be a businessman or a certified member of a prestigious organization to be an “expert.” If you’re a craftswoman, write DIY pieces. If you like healthy living, write about that. Just by living your life, it’s likely that you’ve stumbled into something that you’re pretty good at. Have kids? Write about parenting. Work in professional development? There’s a market for you too.
Really, you probably don’t need to pick your niche at all. You just need to recognize it.
For the blank slates…
If you really feel like you have absolutely no measure of expertise in any area whatsoever, there are still two ways that you can settle on a niche. You can:
- Pick something you wish you were an expert about. You’ll probably have an uphill battle, but by doing your research and bidding on jobs in your chosen niche, you’ll develop a clear record of success.
- Write about everything. In time, you’ll begin to make realizations. Maybe you’ll find that one niche has low competition, high-paying clients, or a unique level of satisfaction. If that happens, you’ve found your niche.
Share your thoughts!
So, what’s your niche? Let us know in the WAHtips forums!
I’ll be back next week with another post in the WAH Freelancer series. Be sure to come back and learn about an important type of professional writing, “ghostwriting.”
In the meantime, share this post with your friends on Facebook or Twitter (we really appreciate it!).
[Image by deathtothestockphoto.com.]