It’s the age-old question: As a freelance writer, do I need a niche? And if so, how do I choose a profitable freelance writing niche?
Newsflash: There are many benefits of niching down in the freelance writing industry and focusing on one or two areas of expertise instead of being a generalist.
I mean, say you were a client looking for a writer with a dentistry background. You want them to write the copy for your new dental practice, but there’s so much competition! Would you choose the medical writer who specialises in dentistry or the one who doesn’t have a specialism? Think about it.
Not only can you win more contracts by niching down, but you can also charge more for a piece of content in your niche.
Why? Well, because you’ve got the expertise, experience and credibility in that particular field to be able to justify the higher rates. Haven’t you ever heard of the phrase: “the riches are in the niches”?
If you’re struggling to decide how to align your focus and could use a helping hand, I’m here for you. Read on for my top tips from the experts when it comes to how to find a profitable freelance writing niche that works for you.
Utilise Your Passions
The first step to finding your freelance writing niche? Figure out what interests you. Whether it’s business, insurance or birds with large wings, find out what you love and run with it.
Having trouble pinpointing your passions? Not to worry – simply create a good old 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 you have. Then when you’re done and your spidey has however many legs, pin it to your bedroom/office wall (for me, it’s one of the same) to serve as daily inspiration until you figure out which one or two legs are calling to you the most.
And if it takes months to figure out? So be it.
After all, there’s no point writing full-time about a niche that doesn’t remotely interest you – and you plan to do this as a career for years to come, right?
Figure Out What You Know
If you’re still struggling, 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, each to 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 – because that’s truly how you start making the big bucks, my friend.
Draw From Your Past Work Experience
Your passions and knowledge aren’t the only avenues for identifying your freelance writing niche. Why not draw inspiration from your past jobs and employment too?
For instance, I worked in various jobs in the fashion industry before I started freelance writing. Mentioning my past work experience makes me stand out from the crowd when I apply for fashion writing jobs and tell relevant companies about my credentials. (I know – check me out, right?)
If you’re struggling, scan over your CV and pick out some industries where you think you could make a difference based on your knowledge and past experiences.
Then get pitching to potential clients in those industries and watch in awe as the email responses come a-flooding in.
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. Then suppose you manage to find a client who has their own online pets magazine (or similar) but they’re only willing to pay you $0.02 per word for every article you write for them.
In fact, you’ve done the research and it seems like the pay rates for all types of content in this industry are kind of low.
Do you take the gig? Even though you really want to make this niche work for you? Or do you pivot on your niche?
The answer is: it’s completely up to you. That said, I personally don’t think that $0.02 is going to pay the bills.Follow your heart when it comes to choosing your niche, for sure, but also don't forget to use your head. Click To Tweet
And 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!
If One Niche Isn’t Working, Simply Try Another!
Always remember that picking a freelance writing niche (or niches) is all about trial and error. There’s no right or wrong way to pick a niche and what 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 what if you’re struggling to write about a topic that you thought you were an expert in?
Well, simply choose another niche, pal. No judgment here.
It’s actually highly unlikely that you will land on your long-term niche straight away anyway. I mean, take the journeys of the following experts, for example.
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 freelance writing 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 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 and tried to find gigs in that niche, but I was unlucky. I still managed to build my portfolio with somewhat random topics before I was finally able to land a client in a niche I was interested in – digital marketing.”
Niche: B2B marketing
How did you choose your freelance writing niche(s)?
“I chose my freelance writing 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 freelance writing 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 a while, 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 with multiple niches.”
Don’t Limit Yourself if You Don’t Have To
Mr. Mattia makes a very valid point. Even though some fellow freelancers may disagree, you don’t necessarily have to stick with just one niche. No siree.
If you’re able to find high-paying clients in other niches, 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 really need to.
If you’re worried about niching down completely, then you don’t have to do it. Do what’s best for your business, taking inspiration from Mr. Hancock.
Freelance Writing Niche(s): N/A
“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.”
The Takeaway: Pick a Profitable Yet Enjoyable Freelance Writing Niche
Even though it can be challenging trying to analyse your passions, qualifications, experiences and knowledge to choose a freelance writing niche (or niches), it’s important to align your focus in some way.
Whether you decide to niche right down or focus on a few subject areas, be sure to try out several options to find out which ones are more profitable (and which ones aren’t). It doesn’t matter if they’re completely different from your original expectations. In the business world, you just have to learn to roll with the punches!
Also, remember that you’re likely going to have to spend hours writing about your niche, so make sure that it’s something you’re really into. I mean, the last thing you want to be doing is falling asleep at your keyboard every day because you settled on a niche that you don’t really care about.
If you need some help, just let me know! I’m here for you.
Have you picked just one freelance writing niche? Or do you have more than one? Let me know in the comments!