I like to go to bookstores and browse through magazines. I get new ideas for articles, find new markets and even occasionally find something I want to read. Recently I saw Chicken Magazine, which was dedicated to providing recipes on how to cook chicken. I came home and ran a search for ‘chicken magazine’ — I didn’t find the exact magazine I saw at the bookstore, but I did find Backyard Poultry Magazine, Home Grown Poultry Magazine, Poultry USA, Poultry Press, Chickens Magazine and more. That’s not even counting the mini cookbooks companies like Tyson’s publish regularly.
To put it mildly, there are are lot of publications buying content just about chickens — enough that it’s not out of the question that a writer could cover nothing but chickens, if she so chose. If that writer was willing to invest time into pitching articles on chickens to broader publication, we could be talking about a very good income.
Where’s Your Expertise?
If you want to focus on a given topic, you almost always can find publications that will buy your content. It’s becoming even easier, with the number of long tail websites, focusing on topics too obscure to support a magazine and printing costs, but with enough interested readers to pay for new content. That means that focusing on a specific niche — being the go-to writer about a specific topic — is becoming more beneficial. Even more importantly, if you are truly the expert in your field, you can just as easily start up that long tail website yourself. That not only means that you’re earning money directly off your expertise, without having to rely quite as much on clients, but you’re also getting an added benefit from articles that you write on a freelance basis — if your bio includes a link back to your site, you can pick up interested readers who find you through work you’re already getting paid to complete.
The big questions are figuring out your passion — what would you love to be an expert on — and deciding if there’s enough of a market there to support you. On certain topics, there’s no question: if you want to write about NASCAR racing, you’re probably going to be able to land enough gigs to support yourself and you can easily create a site of your own. If, however, you want to write just about the Old Faithful geyser at Yellowstone National Park, you may have a harder time generating interest in it every day of the year. There’s no set rule that a given topic is too narrow, but you may have to actually start writing about it to see if you need something broader.
- The Long Tail, by Chris Anderson
- You Can Be an Expert
- Five Reasons Why Freelancers Should Blog from FreelanceSwitch
Image by Flickr user Steven W.