If you’ve done any research into becoming a freelance writer, you’ve surely seen the word niche brought up so often that your mind does that weird thing where it starts to look like a made-up word. Before embarking upon this freelance journey, I scoffed at the importance of finding my freelance writing niche.
That was a mistake.
It left me open to being considered a jack-of-all-trades writer. While there’s nothing wrong with a writer who can write about any topic (and I can), there’s far more benefits to specializing in something.
What is a niche?
A niche is your specialty, your area of expertise or focus. If you enjoy writing about parenting, you might want to make that your niche. Likewise, if you’re really knowledgeable in marketing for small businesses, you might want to consider making that topic your niche.
Choosing a niche allows you to specialize and increase your earning potential. Clients are going to consider you an expert in your niche as opposed to being a jack-of-all-trades.
When I was on Upwork looking for jobs, I passed over dozens because the topics were either subjects I wasn’t interested in or not comfortable writing about. I know nothing about nutrition or stock portfolios; writing about either of them will not only be difficult for me, but would take me much longer to write about due to how much research I’d have to do.
Time to do some research.
I stumbled upon this blog post by Elise Dopson that forced me to ask myself, “What’s my niche?” More importantly, Elise’s advice had me consider what my possible niches could be; I need to write on a topic I am fairly experienced with, that I’m interested in, and that I can write about with authority.
Elise’s advice in that post also reaffirmed the need for choosing a niche and how doing so would increase my value to a client and therefore raise my earning potential.
Really, are there any reasons not to choose a niche?
Jorden Roper also hammered into my head the need for choosing a niche and that’s when I decided:
I NEED A NICHE.
Choosing a Niche.
Armed with the advice from Elise and Jorden, I decided to take the bulk of this past week to research, learn, and rebrand myself.
Then I asked myself: what do I enjoy writing about?
- Writing (obviously), but I don’t see a well-paying market writing about writing (at my experience level).
- Gaming. I’m still keeping this option open, but not focusing on it as my niche just yet. Once I’m more established, I’m going to explore writing about gaming again.
- Mental health. I’ve written extensively about my issues with anxiety and depression, but on a purely personal level. Mental health isn’t really a topic that I think I could write about with any authority except for opinion pieces and anecdotal advice.
- Insurance. Ding ding ding, we have a winner! I’m a licensed insurance agent, and though I absolutely suck at sales, I’ve got the knowledge! I also discovered in my short span as an insurance agent that the world of insurance interests me and presents a lot of opportunity for individuals to protect their families and grow their wealth. As an insurance agent, one of my most memorable memories was setting a client up on the path to securing his estate and setting up a long-term life and financial insurance plan. One of my first clients after starting freelancing commissioned me to write some insurance-related content, and I realized I really enjoyed writing on the subject and could do so with authority.
- Finance. I love writing about ways to budget or make intelligent financial decisions, and the topic of finance plays off insurance well.
In listing out my writing interests, I came to the conclusion that my niche would be insurance and finance.
“Good for you, Dan. So what?”
Well, Self-Critical Self, now’s where I take the next step.
About a week ago, Upwork presented me with this little notice whenever I log in:
With no complaints from clients and having already verified my identity in multiple ways, Upwork has prevented me from applying for new jobs pending an “identity verification video call.” Not a huge issue, but it’s one that annoys me. I don’t have a webcam for my PC and I don’t feel like jumping through hoops to be able to submit new job proposals on Upwork. And I’ve been trying to get away from Upwork to find clients, anyway, so this is the perfect motivation to do so.
I was going to make a joke here comparing cold emailing to the cold winter temperatures here in Rhode Island, but instead you get this lame excuse.
Either way, one of the advice pieces I read was another by Jorden Roper about growing my business through cold emailing. Finding clients myself without the use of a content mill like Upwork has been my goal since I began freelancing and Jorden’s advice helps me overcome my fear of rejection and gives me the confidence to actually email potential clients. Remember: being a freelance writer means you own your own business. You’re not an employee. You’re a business owner. But using a site like Upwork doesn’t make you feel like a business owner.
Trust me. I didn’t.
With the added knowledge from all I read, I know my next logical step is to start cold emailing potential clients and building my business directly through pitching, which is where having a niche comes in handy.
Having a niche means I can write with authority and expertise on insurance and finance topics, with a portfolio and resume that backs up my experience. In short, a niche makes me valuable to potential clients in those industries.
What’s left for me to do now is to put together a list of companies in the insurance and finance industries that I feel will be better off with me writing for them. As someone with experience as an insurance agent, I know there were plenty of times where I referred to an article or post that extolled the virtues of a certain insurance product or plan, or explained it in a way that the customer could more easily digest.
Who do you think writes that kind of stuff?
The key is that the best salesman in the world might not be the best writer. The two don’t go hand-in-hand. Written content can go a long way towards building a relationship with a potential customer or bringing in new business. The type of writing I like most – content writing – helps to establish and create relationships with customers and increase the value of a company.
This week I’m going to be pitching my writing services and talents to companies I feel I can contribute to and build relationships with, to in turn, help them create and build relationships with their customers. I’m going to reach out to these companies through cold email pitches, as Jorden teaches.
What’s your niche?
One of the perks of working freelance means I get to choose who I work with, which extends to the topics I want to write about. Choosing a niche helps to define a freelance writer’s expertise and authority in a subject, increases your earning potential, and creates value in what you bring to a client.
Whether you’re a new freelance writer or someone to whom I look up to, what’s your writing niche? I think that we, as freelance writers, are all in this together and should support one another. Not only does that mean we help each other, but we help the industry, and we better serve our clients that way.