How To Discover Your Niche As A Brand New Freelance Writer
Writing is a profession where your ability to express information in written form comes primarily from experience. A niche, or your specialty, is generally an area where you have expertise.
You can choose to become an expert in one specific field, which will allow you to gain access and knowledge that others might not have. A super simple example would be my trained profession: Nursing. After I graduated, sat for, and passed my boards, I could put the “R.N.” after my name. Like many new nurses, I worked on a very general type of unit. It was there that I was exposed to specialties and sub-specialties and the variety of nursing I could practice in.
After a bit of experience, I gravitated towards the Emergency Department, and that became my passion and my specialty. Or, in writers parlance, my niche.
The larger message is that while I was the product of a very general “nursing” school, it wasn’t until later that I indeed found my area or my niche.
The same concept applies to writers
It’s perfectly fine to not niche down in the beginning and to be an expansive and inclusive writer, but dollars to donuts says that you’ll eventually find that sweet spot where your words sparkle.
It could be you wrote about the “Top 10 Best Pizza Joints,” and you now love writing about food. Maybe it was a freelance gig where you wrote about Norwegian travel spots, and now travel and leisure is your jam.
Or perhaps you’re brand new to writing and have heard that phrase, “there are riches in the niches,” and still don’t know what lights your pen on fire.
Don’t sweat it, and certainly don’t force it. The following seven questions may be just what you’ve been looking for.
1. I’m new. Do I need to choose a niche right away?
Negative rampart. It shouldn’t be a prime concern when you’re flying outta the starting gate. The main driver should be working with your first clients and delivering some stellar work to them.
Build some experience, take some gigs that may stretch you a bit, and begin to feel your way around the actual “work” of freelancing. Keep doing this, and 9.9 times out of 10, your niche will find you.
Quick tip. When you become a good writer, you may find that sliding across niches is a more than viable option.
2. Are there really more riches in particular niches?
If the question is really, ‘can I make more money in the niches’ then the short answer is yes.
With a caveat.
Certain niches are definitely more lucrative than others because they have huge audiences and are basically timeless. Others MIGHT come and go. Markets change, tastes change, and consumers change, so keep that in mind.
Specific niches that have 9-lives are tech, finance, personal development, and alternative health.
While you don’t need to pick one of these, it’s always good to know where to money trail leads.
3. I’m not really feeling those niches you just mentioned. Could I still find clients and land writing gigs as a newbie with not much interest in those big categories?
I would say heck to the yes. The truth of the matter is all businesses need some form of writing. They may not know it, but they do. From dental practices to online funnel builders to Amazon sellers and everyone in between.
Ironically, one of the niches I never imagined writing for is federal contracting and defense space. Who would ever have imagined that?
If you have experience in a specific industry or even a broad knowledge base in a related field and feel that your skills and passions align, you can and likely must pursue the work.
4. Is it possible to start pitching for writing gigs if I haven’t found my niche yet?
We all had to crawl before standing — the walk before run.
In other words, yes. You have to start somewhere, and in the early days, a young, wet behind the ears writer may be taking small jobs. Maybe for a little less dough, and maybe not. Simply be open to what may come your way at this stage.
Been there, done that. It was a simple way for me to learn what I liked and didn’t like.
5. What if I don’t want to “niche down”?
I love this question for one HUGE reason.
The train of thought that you must write in one niche or “niching down” to specific expertise is a myth. There is no hard rule on that, and I’m a personal fan of finding several specialties that you’re good at.
Consider your body of knowledge in three buckets as an example. I write about entrepreneurship, nursing, and then how nurses can become freelance writers. Three different areas and all three are also linked together.
I then decided to dabble in foodie writing and Wowza. Wouldn’t you know that I actually like it and can now produce a regular income from it!
6. I decided I DO want to find my niche. How do I do that?
There may be a few ways to begin exploring your soon-to-be niche.
Consider first big companies and the industries they fall in. As I mentioned earlier, a few timeless ones are finance, personal development, weight loss, and a few others. Feel any pull towards those as you read them?
Niches can also be a type or style of writing. For instance, my specialty is email copywriting. I literally write the daily or weekly emails for companies who simply don’t have the time but understand the value of email marketing. Other areas are V.S.L.’s, long form sales letters, Facebook ad copy, and several more.
Finally, a pseudo combo of these would be to find a type of copy you love to write for a specific industry. Using my example above, I really love doing email copy for medical and healthcare-related entities. As an R.N., I already grasp the lingo and language, so it’s a natural fit for me, AND I like it.
7. I’m ready, and I’m feeling it. So now, HOW do I get the niche seeking started?
K.I.S.S. Keep It Simple Silly, and do not overthink this.
Just write. Set that paper on fire with your pen and let it rip. Something is going to lite you up inside. A topic or a story will move you, and you’ll find resonance.
Remember I told you about food writing? I followed this advice. I’m a pizza fanatic and one day wrote a “Top 7 Pizza” story that was published, and yep, they paid me for it. That got my wheels turning in a whole new, nichey way.
Keep it simple.
Some folks say, “trust the process.” I’m a believer in TEST the process. Take the above items I’ve shared and put them to the test. See if and when they work. Then modify as needed.
When testing this out, you’ll begin to peel back the layers of what works and what doesn’t work. You’ll discover what gets you hot and what keeps you cold.
But in the end, I’m betting you’re going to find that extraordinary place that welcomes your pen and creativity home.