Day 10: Explore Your Niche

The other day, I saw a writer’s website which proclaimed that the writer in question specializes in writing about business, food, technology, books, media and general features. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but that’s not specialization. That’s called generalization — and it can make your marketing harder to carry out.

I’ve been mentioning niches pretty regularly as we’ve talked about marketing writing services. You probably have a pretty good idea of the styles of writing you prefer, along with some topics you’d rather write about over others — or you at least prefer the pay rates. All that can add up to a type of writing project you’re far more likely to take on than any other, a niche that you work in regularly. Having a solid grasp on your niche can speed up your marketing significantly.

That doesn’t mean that you can only take on projects in your niche, though. There are copy writers who write articles on a regular basis and article writers willing to take on copy projects that come their way. And the number of writers who focus on freelance writing and produce fiction and poetry on the side are impossible to count. It’s just that your marketing efforts are focused more on one type of project.

It’s hard to be a very well known generalist freelancer. Who do you know that routinely knocks projects out of the park without having a niche? Successful freelance writers tend to find a niche that they focus on:

  • Deb Ng operates an outstanding blog network covering freelance writing, but most of her day to day work is actually as a community manager.
  • Annette Fix is the senior editor of WOW! WomenOnWriting.com and, while she has numerous unrelated writing credits, her niche is definitely writing about writing — she offers editing services targeted towards writers, has spoken about writing and even holds workshops on writing.
  • Kristen Fischer is the author of several books, including Creatively Self-Employed, but she focuses on marketing on her copy writing services for marketing materials.
  • Allena Tapia, the Guide to Freelance Writing on About.com, has made a niche of writing about Latino topics, finding both interesting article topics and blogging gigs in her niche.

Making the Most of a Niche

You can get a head start on succeeding in your niche just by knowing it well. Sure, it’s good to be familiar with freelance writing forums, reading freelance writing blogs and networking with other freelance writers on social networks — but it’s at least equally important to have a presence in the forums catering to your ideal clients, read blogs on that industry and build connections with the key players.

Say you specialize in writing marketing materials for individuals who sell crafts? You should be spending time on Etsy’s forums, chatting with members about their marketing efforts and seeing how you can help them!

Maybe you write technical documentation for software. Get on LinkedIn Answers and see what technology questions you can answer — and who you can connect with through those questions.

Or maybe you cover college football: that means you should be involved in college football forums, like the one operated by Rivals.com. After all, editors drop into forums, too.

You should know your niche inside and out. Where do your prospective clients hang out? What conferences do they attend? What newsletters do they read? You need to be in the places they’re looking for information. If you can be seen as an expert in those areas, so much the better! Your expertise can give you an opportunity to mention your website, your blog, your newsletter or even your services flat out.

The best example of this that I have doesn’t come from a freelance writer, unfortunately, but the principle remains solid. I wrote some copy for a temp agency that specialized in blue collar workers. The owner of the agency wanted to start supplying workers to the local apartment complexes for maintenance and landscaping. He attended all the meetings of the local apartment owners’ association. He spoke at one of the association’s meetings about ways that apartment owners can save money by using temps rather than full-time maintenance staff. He put articles into the association’s newsletter. And he wound up with tons of business from those apartments, to the point where he had to actually recruit more temps! Writers can get involved in their clients’ communities in just the same way.

In order to get more involved in my niche, I make a point to follow quite a few people on Twitter and participate in relevant chats, because that’s where a lot of people in my niche communicate. What about your niche?

Just joining us? Check out where we started with Setting Your Goals!

5 Comments

  1. Pingback: FreelanceGuru (Jason Green)

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  3. Christy   •  

    Thank for the specialization vs generalization comment! Hello! If a prospective writer has too many niches I am less inclined to believe that they know who they are, let alone how to write up my business.

    If someone genuinely has expertise in a few vastly disparate subjects, I suggest that they either look more deeply for the common link among the various subjects (perhaps it’s an emphasis on process?) or that they market themselves to each niche completely separately.

  4. thursday   •     Author

    @Christy, It doesn’t hurt that if you’re an expert in one field, you can charge more than a generalist covering a variety of tipics, either.

  5. Pingback: Wrap Up — Market Your Freelance Writing In 31 Days

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