Wanna be a freelance writer? Sure you do. And that’s super great — it’s an awesome way to make a real living and stay at home with your kids. You can scale your business up and down according to your schedule and your financial needs. You can meet cool people, learn new things, and have a lot of fun — and get paid to do it.
If you want to be the kind of freelance writer who makes money (as opposed to the kind who slowly starves…), one of the very first things you need to do is to choose a freelance writing niche. This is fancy writer-speak for picking the thing you’re going to write about. It’s one of the most important things you can do in ANY business, because when you have a niche, you know who you’re talking to.
Let’s say you have a dog-grooming business. You cater to dog owners, right? So you know about the things that they care about, the questions and concerns they have, and the things they want to know.
You don’t have to worry about alienating people who don’t have pets, because you’re not actually trying to win their business.
Now let’s go back to your freelance writing niche. Let’s say you’ve decided that you want to write for real estate companies. That’s your audience — you want to connect with Realtors, agents, and other professionals in that industry. You know their lingo, you don’t have to explain mortgages and home decor to them, because they know that stuff cold.
When you are looking for work, you can use your knowledge of the field to create a pitch letter and custom content that impresses the clients you want to work with — and you don’t have to worry what other people are thinking about. You don’t have to consider, for example, whether your aunt Sally can understand what you're saying, because she’s not your target market.
By choosing a niche, you make your life much easier, and easy is awesome.
If you’ve been hesitant to choose a niche, or if you’ve had trouble choosing a niche, it might be because you’ve fallen prey to one of the many myths about choosing a niche, so let’s take a look at those — and get you back on track.
Myth #1: Choosing a Niche Makes It Harder to Find Work
A lot of new freelance writers are terrified to choose a niche because they think that means they’ll never be able to find enough work. Wrong! Choosing a niche actually makes it a lot EASIER to find the RIGHT work.
Think about it like this: would you rather work with 50 clients who are nearly impossible to please — or with five clients who love what you do, rave about you to everyone, and pay your invoices with a smile?
Kind of a no-brainer, right? Well, when you choose a niche, you make it a lot easier to find the clients in that second group, because you’re looking for people who fit a very specific profile.
Myth #2: If I Choose a Niche, I’m Stuck With It Forever
Hey, guess what? You’re a freelance writer. This is YOUR BUSINESS. That means that YOU make the rules. So if you wake up tomorrow and decide that you HATE your niche, YOU CAN PICK A NEW ONE.
Now, please don’t take this as free license to change your niche on a weekly basis. You can do that — because you can do whatever you want — but try to stick with a single niche for at least half a year. That’s enough time to dig in, get to know people, find great work, and rack up fabulous testimonials, which you can use when you want to transition into a new niche.
You can absolutely choose a new niche if you want to do that. Many writers start in one area — what they studied in college, for example, or whatever they did at their day jobs — and then leverage their experience and client referrals to move into a new niche a few months down the line.
When you’re a new mom, you might want to try your hand at the parenting market, which is vast and profitable. And then, you might — hypothetically — decide that if you have to write ONE MORE WORD about breastfeeding you are going to SCREAM. Ahem. Your niche can grow and change as you grow and change, is the point.
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Myth #3: It Doesn’t Make Sense To Choose a Niche as a Beginner
Imagine that you’re a dentist, and you’re looking for a writer to help you with your new website. You find two writers. The first says, “I love writing about all kinds of things! High tech, business, medicine, parenting, food. I can absolutely help you with your website, NO PROBLEM.”
The second writer says, “I work with dentists and orthodontists. Here’s a list of 20 topics I recommend we cover on your blog, and I can also help you create some informational handouts for your patients.”
Which would you choose?
EVEN if you’re a beginner — heck, ESPECIALLY if you’re a beginner, it’s better to get a couple of clients who need the same kind of work, because you get better and faster at doing the work, you know what works and what doesn’t, and you can make more money for the same work.
Instead of earning $200 to write a blog post, why not earn $400 — or more — to write the same post? That’s what happens when you specialize. You bring more value to the table, because you know more.
Myth #4: If I Don’t Choose X As My Niche, I Won’t Make Any Money
Man. So many people believe this, and it is Flat. Out. Wrong.
You can make perfectly good money in almost ANY niche. You do NOT have to pick tech. And you shouldn’t, if technology doesn’t interest you and/or you don’t know a lot about it. Think about the things that DO interest you — or that you know a lot about — and start there.
Students in Writing for Money have chosen to specialize in many different fields — natural parenting, food, finance, travel, relationships, pets, and more.
Every student who has put in the time and research needed has found work that pays well, regardless of her chosen niche.
Oh, and by the way: you also don’t have to write about how to make money in order to make money. For 15 years, I wrote exclusively for clients and I made around $60,000 a year, working 4-6 hours a day, 5 days a week. I never ONCE wrote about “how to make money as a writer” during that time. In fact, I took a huge pay CUT to start training, because I didn’t take on any client work for about six months.
Myth #5: Too Many Other People Are Already In My Niche
There are a LOT of people in the world. And some of them write about YOUR topic. So, obviously, this means that you’re too late, and you have nothing new to offer, so you should just, you know, give up and walk away.
NO. That is NOT what you do. Not even a little bit. So what DO you do?
Let’s say that your niche is sports. And let’s say that you personally know five other people who are writing about sports, AND three of those people have already been published in Sports Illustrated (I actually know nothing about sports, so that’s the only sports magazine I know.)
The point is, these other people have experience. And credibility. And you don’t have any of that. You’re thinking to yourself, “I can’t complete with Sports Illustrated!”
So… Why did you pick sports for your niche? Because you LOVE sports. You love EVERYTHING about sports. You PLAY like 17 different sports. You’re on 3 different teams. YOU ARE PLAYING A SPORT RIGHT NOW.
You know what? don’t NEED to compete with Sports Illustrated. There are a LOT of people who write about sports, and there are a LOT of people who need sports content. And YOUR sports content has YOUR unique spin.
Sports is a HUGE topic. You can focus on a specific sport, you can target beginners, hobbyists, or professionals. You can target specific age groups — you have so many choices.
If you feel like there’s too much competition in your niche, then think about getting a little more focused, which differentiates you from a lot of those other people writing in your niche. Think about WHY you chose your niche and what excites you about it. Hone in on that, and rock the world.