It’s the age-old question… As a freelance writer, do I need a niche? If I do, how do I choose a profitable niche?
If you’re a beginner who follows the work of more advanced freelance writers, you’re probably aware of the controversy that surrounds picking a niche.
Perhaps you’ve been in turmoil since you began freelancing for a living, wondering if you should take on gigs in any industry or limit your interests down to one or two areas of expertise.
Well, I’m here to tell you that you’re not alone. We’ve all been there at one point or another.
Personally, I was lucky that I already had a niche in mind before I started freelance writing.
How come, I hear you ask?
Well, I majored in Fashion Marketing and Branding at university. While there, I also started my own fashion blog.
From a young age, I knew I wanted to work in the fashion industry so, thanks to my knowledge and work experience gained prior to freelance writing, fashion naturally became my main niche.
Then, as time wore on and my passions and interests changed and developed, I gradually picked up some other niches alongside fashion.
Some were profitable, some were not. (I’m talking about you, article I once randomly wrote about bottled water… Ahem.)
Unfortunately, focusing on a niche isn’t always straightforward. There’ll likely be times when you doubt yourself, times when you wonder if you’ve made the right choice with your niche and times when you feel like changing up your niche because you’re so sick of writing about the same handbag trends over and over again.
However, it’s all part of the process. Trust me. Read on for my tips on how to find a profitable freelance writing niche that works for you.
Utilise your passions.
The first step to finding your freelance writing niche is to figure out what interests you. Whether it’s business, insurance or birds that don’t have wings, find out what you love and run with it.
Having trouble pinpointing your passions? Not to worry. Simply create a good ol’ spider diagram.
(You know, the ones that they make you create at school during brainstorming sessions.)
Put your name in the middle and draw a leg for every hobby or interest that you have. Then, when you’re done and your spidey has however many legs, pin the ‘gram to your bedroom/office wall (for me, it’s one in the same) for daily inspo.
Figure out what you know.
Next, ask yourself what you know about the world? What are you an expert in?
Do you have qualifications in a certain field? Did you excel in history at school? Do you know everything that there is to know about cardboard recycling?
(Hey, to each their own!)
Consider your passions, but also be smart when you’re picking out a niche. Take advantage of your subject knowledge so that you can wow your clients with inside information that no one else knows to create demand for your world-class content.
And then you’ll be winning, my friend.
Draw from your past work experience.
Your passion and knowledge aren’t the only avenues for identifying your freelance niche. Draw inspiration from your past jobs and employment experiences, too.
For instance, I worked in various jobs in the fashion industry before I started freelance writing. Tying into my past work experience makes me stand out from the crowd when I pitch to clients and tell them about my credentials.
(I know – check me out, right?)
If you’re struggling, take a scan over your resume and pick out some industries where you think you could make a difference with your knowledge and experiences. And then get pitching to clients in those industries!
Work out where the money is.
Okay, say that you love your fur baby so much that you decide you want to write about dogs for a living. That’s fair enough.
Suppose you manage to find a client who has their own online pets magazine (or similar). Then you realise that this client is only going to pay you $0.02 per word for every article you write for them.
Do you take the gig? Even though you really want to make this niche work for you?
The answer is: it’s completely up to you. (Personally, I don’t think that $0.02 is going to pay a millennial’s bills.)Follow your heart when it comes to your niche, for sure, but also don't forget to use your head. Click To Tweet
Don’t be afraid of turning down work if the client isn’t prepared to pay you for what you’re worth. After all, a gal’s got to eat!
You don’t necessarily have to limit yourself to one niche.
Even though some people might disagree, you don’t have to pick just one niche.
Instead, it’s perfectly acceptable to have a few on the backburner.
For instance, my main niche might be fashion but I also currently work in beauty, travel, blogging, mental health and relationships.
If you’re able to find high-paying clients in other areas, it doesn’t hurt to have many strings to your bow so-to-speak. In fact, being diverse and adaptable is a smart business move rather than limiting yourself when you don’t need to.
If one niche isn’t working, try another!
Finally, remember that picking a niche (or niches) is all about trial and error. There’s no right or wrong way to pick a niche and the niche you choose is entirely your decision.
And what if one niche isn’t going according to plan? What if you can’t find high-paying work in that niche or you’re struggling to write about a topic that you thought you were an expert in?
Well, simply choose another niche, hun. #NoJudgementHere
And remember, you’re likely going to have to spend hours writing about your niche, so make sure that it’s something you’re really into. You don’t want to be falling asleep at your keyboard every day.
Still not sure about which niche is for you? Here’s what the experts say.
Niche(s): Digital marketing for small businesses including content marketing, email marketing, blogging tips, social media marketing and sales page marketing
How did you choose your niche(s)?
“I did not choose this niche; instead, it revealed itself after trying to find freelance writing jobs. At first, my niche was about natural health and education and as I researched how to market my freelance writing business, I fell in love with this niche!
Then, as luck would have it, a prospect reached out to me and asked if I would like to write about social media marketing. I did not let them know that this was a new territory for me. Instead I did have a sample in my growing portfolio about social media and that helped me land this client.
So when looking back, I decided on my niche, tried to find gigs in that niche but was unlucky. But, I still built my portfolio with somewhat random topics and was able to land a client in a niche I was interested in – digital marketing.”
Niche: B2B marketing
How did you choose your niche(s)?
“I chose my niche after working in-house at an SEO agency. I was their main copywriter, meaning I worked on content pieces for any client. From wall cladding manufacturers to pet insurance, it was varied, to say the least!
This helped me to suss-out the type of writing I wanted to do. I got the chance to work on several pieces of content for several clients, but I eventually found that I enjoyed writing for the agency itself, more than the clients… Hence why I’m now a B2B marketing copywriter!”
Niche(s): Insuretech, finance, startups, solopreneurs, and small businesses
How did you choose your niche(s)?
“When I first started freelancing, I was adamantly against choosing a niche. Why limit myself (and my potential income) to only one small field? But as the old cliche goes, fate had something in store for me.
Before launching my freelance business, I had previously worked as a licensed insurance agent. I had experience and in-depth knowledge about most major insurance products, and understood more nuanced details about insurance as a whole (like underwriting, how premiums are determined, etc.). I leveraged my insurance license and expertise to land my first client before I even had much of a portfolio to point to. The more posts I wrote about insurance, the more insurance-related writing requests hit my inbox. After awhile, I started to realize that, despite my inclinations against niching, I had fallen into the insurance niche (and it was paying my bills!).
Funnily enough, writing in the insurance niche eventually expanded to finance (which is a close cousin to insurance), and then for startups, solopreneurs, and small businesses. Niching into insurance laid the foundation for what’s become a very healthy and stable freelance career. My portfolio of insurance-related posts and articles is a testament to my ability to write about bland, boring, and confusing topics in a quirky, interesting, and educational way – something that benefits my clients no matter their field.
So when you’re thinking about choosing a niche, ask yourself what subject you’re most knowledgeable or qualified in. Do you have any certifications or licenses? Have you been professionally trained in a specific field? It’s very likely that choosing to niche in such a field will help you build up an initial portfolio and open up doors and opportunities later on.”
Even though it can be challenging trying to identify your passions, qualifications, experiences and knowledge to choose a niche (or niches), it’s worth trying to align your focus in some way.
Because it’s going to ultimately help you score those high paying clients. Remember, clients want an expert in their field who’s going to teach their readers new things to give their brand authority.
And if their brand has authority and builds trust with its audience?
The readers of their blog will just keep coming back again and again. (And again? Ahem. Not sure when to stop. And I call myself a writer…)
If you’re worried that you can’t niche down completely, then perhaps the following expert advice will help.
“If I did have a niche I guess it would be digital marketing, given that it’s the subject I’ve written about the most over the years. More recently I’ve written a lot for SaaS companies so that could easily be a niche too. But, alas I don’t have one.
I know the benefits of having one and I know different ways of going about picking one, but I’ve never wanted to settle on a niche. I like working in B2B and B2C and I enjoy working for businesses of different sizes and stature.
And not having a niche has done me no harm whatsoever. Could I earn more money if I had a niche? Maybe. But everything is working perfectly at the moment and I’ve no plans to change just yet.
If I was to give advice to any new writers I would say, look to find a niche but don’t fret over it. Not having a niche doesn’t mean your career won’t take off. If you’re a good writer you’ll get work. And once you’re working, maybe you’ll find something you really enjoy writing about that can be a niche.
… Or you can just be a niche nomad like me.”
Picking a Profitable Niche
Whether you decide to niche right down or focus purely on your passions, make sure that you put some thought into choosing your freelance writing areas of expertise. Try out different options to find out which ones work, even if they’re completely different from your original expectations, and it won’t be long before you’re making the big bucks in your chosen subject sectors.