How To Find Your Niche as a Freelance Writer
Freelance writers have a lot of options regarding what they write about. While it can be exhilarating to write about anything, it can also be a detriment to your writing career. People want to take advice from someone that is a specialist in a specific field rather than a jack-of-all-trades. If you want to build a successful career as a freelance writer, you need to choose a writing niche. Here is how to find a niche as a freelance writer.
What Is a Writing Niche?
A writing niche is a specialty that your business efforts focus on. In short, it is the writing that your business is known for. You can choose a specific type of writing like blogs, ebooks, and social media posts, or you can focus on a specific topic like healthcare, sports, or hobbies.
Publications need content on different topics and in various formats every day. As a writer, you want to specialize in creating content on a specific topic in multiple formats or in one format on multiple topics. That way, when a publication needs that type of writing, they see you as an experienced expert.
There are many types of writing that you can specialize in. Some of the most popular options include:
- Blog writing
- Digital marketing
- Email marketing
- Technical writing
You can also choose from a range of topics, such as :
- News and politics
- Home and garden
- Business and finance
You can even choose a niche that is more specific than these types. For example, you can choose to write romance novels instead of just focusing on books in general. Technical writers often focus on a specific subject area, like technology or industry-specific needs.
In the end, you want to choose a niche that is specific enough for people to see you as an expert in an area.
Can I Have More Than One Writing Niche?
The simple answer is, yes, you can have more than one niche. Many successful freelance writers do have several niches. This gives them flexibility when finding work, especially as they are just getting started and trying to build a reputation.
If you want to have several niches instead of just one, there are several rules that you should follow to make sure that you can succeed.
3 Types or 3 Topics
When choosing a niche, implement a limit of three. Limit your niche choices to a combination of up to three types of writing or three topics to write about. For example, you could write blogs, ebooks, and social media posts about sports. Your focus area is sports and you can write content in up to three different formats. When sports publications need content, they will turn to you as a sports writer who can provide content to use across different channels in different formats.
Alternatively, you could choose to write blogs for sports, healthcare, and news (one format for three topic areas). This will keep you from being spread too thin and not being able to specialize enough in any specific area. That way, publications in healthcare, news, and sports will turn to you for blog content since they see you as a professional blog writer.
If you choose three types of writing as your niches, then make sure that they are all connected in some way. For example, you could choose something like:
- Digital marketing
- Blog writing
- Scriptwriting for marketing ads
All three of these types focus on the same thing: marketing. They just approach marketing in different ways. If your niches are connected, then you can be seen as an expert in their combined field. In this case, a client looking to promote their brand would come to you for multi-channel content.
If you instead choose to focus on three topics, it is less important that they are directly connected. However, they do at least need to be in the same general field. For example, a book writer can choose to write about:
- Medieval fantasy romance
- Modern rom-coms
- Western romance stories
All three of these options are firmly within the romance genre, but they can be very different from each other. In this case, you are a romance novelist that can write in three distinct areas. The key to success is that you don’t let yourself explore too many options at one time. Keeping limits makes it easier to specialize and focus.
If, over time, you cannot build expertise in a specific niche or gain traction in the market, change your niche topics. That means that you do have to leave the options that are not working for you behind. That way, you are not working in too many areas at once.
Why Is Finding a Writing Niche Important?
Finding a niche is important because it gives your work focus. When people need content written, they don’t look for the person that says, “Hey, I can write anything you need!” While it may sound impressive, it is a statement that does not convey the quality of the work. Anyone can write anything that they need, but that does not mean that it will meet their quality standards.
When people need content written, they look for the person that says, “Hey, I specialize in writing [insert needed content here].” They want the person who spends their time focusing on that type of work because it says that they are an expert in that field. Their efforts are poured into being knowledgeable and articulate about a specific subject or type of content, which is exactly what customers want.
No one can write on a high level about any and every topic. Choosing a niche simply allows you to focus your content development and marketing efforts.
How Finding a Writing Niche Improves Your Writing Career
When you’re starting out, it can be tempting to try to focus on everything at the same time. You need to pay the bills, so you can’t be too picky about the work that you get, right? Well, many new writers find that they struggle to find work since there are so many things to focus on.
At some point, you need to choose a niche to improve your career. Here are several ways in which a niche can improve your writing career.
Focuses Your Efforts
Choosing a niche focuses your efforts on developing skills in a specific area. The more time you put into your niche, the more of an expert you become. You won’t waste a lot of time and resources on work that doesn’t work out for you.
Builds on Your Developing Expertise
Once you choose a niche, you can begin to focus on a specific area of expertise. The more time you spend on your niche, the more of an expert in it you become. That means that you can create content that meets higher quality standards, which leads to higher prices and more income.
Lets You Build a Reputation
Writing within a niche lets you build a reputation for being a specialist in that type of writing. You can market yourself as a writer for a specific type of content, which makes it much easier to attract clients.
How To Find a Writing Niche as a Freelancer
To find a niche as a freelancer, there are several things to consider. Your niche should be a combination of:
- What you are an expert in or are willing to spend time becoming an expert in
- The opportunities available in the market
- What you like to write about and can continue to write about indefinitely
- How much you need to earn and how much you want your income to grow
By finding a balance between these four areas, you can find a niche that sets you up for success.
Since you need to be an expert in what you write about, start by figuring out what you are already an expert in. Make a list of topics that you are knowledgeable about.
In this case, being an expert means that you know enough about a topic to speak about it accurately, authoritatively, and with more information than most people have. It does not mean that you know more than everyone else, just that you know enough to tell people about it, and that your knowledge is supported by research.
If you want to enjoy writing for a living, then you should find a niche that you are passionate about. Take your writing expertise list and cross off everything but the three topics that you are most passionate about.
If you get to the last three and can’t see yourself being happy writing about them, then add to your list some topics that you are happy about. These are things that you are going to have to spend more time learning about to write about them, but that passion can help sustain you until you can write about them successfully.
When you are done, you should have three niche ideas that you can write about for the long term.
No matter how much you want to write about something, there needs to be a market opportunity to support it. Market opportunities are ways of making money off of your writing. Take your niche idea list and research the top three options that you chose. Answer these questions to see if there is a market opportunity:
- Are companies looking for writers in this niche?
- Are there recent famous writers in this niche?
- Are there examples of standout work in this niche?
Essentially, you are looking for any sign that you could sell your work to a company or to customers to make money. There are a ton of market opportunities available for nearly all types of writing. The key is finding those opportunities, no matter how far-fetched they may seem. You need to know the path to follow to make money off of your work if you want to be successful.
On your list, change your niche ideas to include the market opportunities that you found for each one. Your list entries should read something like this:
- Sports writer writing monthly blog posts for a sports magazine.
- Romance novelist writing a series of romance novels for a publisher.
- [Niche idea] making [market opportunity].
When you are done, you should have at least three niche ideas that say what you are going to write and how you are going to sell it. You’ve almost found your niche, but there is one more step that is arguably the most important.
Freelance writing can be a career if you set yourself up for success. Whether you only want a small side hustle or you want to replace your day job, you need to know what your earning potential is.
Your earning potential is the amount that you can reliably earn from selling your work over time. How you sell your work is different for different types of writing. For example, selling a novel means that you can earn money upfront and earn residuals over time. Since you will sell fewer novels overall compared to something like blog posts, you need to charge more for each one.
Alternatively, you could focus on selling a lot of blog posts at a lower cost, but the total number of sales can add up quickly.
Look at your list and do some research to see what you can expect to earn from your niche ideas. Whether it’s one writing niche or several, your choice must generate the kind of income that is in line with what you need to earn. You can’t quit your job if the number of blog posts you can sell per month won’t get you enough money to pay your bills.
Likewise, it would be difficult to keep your day job if writing 20 blog posts per month pays more than your job and takes just as long. Remember, your area or areas of writing expertise must be able to support your earning goals. This is what you should focus on.
You Found Your Writing Niche!
It takes some work to find the right niche, but finding it makes a big difference in your outcomes as a freelance writer. Now that you’ve found your niche, it’s time to start developing your portfolio and marketing your skills. With luck, some help, and the right niche to focus on, you’ll find success as a freelance writer.
Melanie G. is a freelance writer and editor living in Tampa, Florida. She’s freelanced full-time since she left her writing job at Nielsen in 2012.