Creating Your Freelance Niche

By Colin

Finding one’s own niche in which to write articles can be a great position to attain, and one most writers will attempt at some point in their careers. For a freelance writer just setting out, niche writing can help make the break into the business much easier, and provide a steady source of writing gigs while earning some money.

Let’s say you’ve made the conscious decision to dedicate your writing, or a large portion of it, to writing within a particular subject – you want to create a niche for yourself – you just don’t know in what subject, or how to go about it.

How then, do you kick things off? What niche markets can a freelance writer begin writing in, learn about the trade, and still make a living from?

There are two ways to approach this:

1 – Obvious Existing Expert Knowledge

You’re an expert in space exploration. You studied the cosmos and advanced physics at university and gained a Masters degree. Then you got the perfect job working for NASA, helping to support space missions and discovering the galaxy. In your spare time you built telescopes and watched the night skies for comets and asteroids of an evening. Now, in your twilight, you have decided to boost your pension with a little freelance writing.

If this is you, then the chances are you already know where your niche market lies. If not, read on.

2 – No Obvious Existing Expert Knowledge

Should you have no existing expert knowledge in any particular subject, don’t be fooled into thinking that niche writing is not for you. There are many areas of life and business that require specialist freelance writers, in what might be termed as “boring subjects.”

Here are a few niche markets, where a freelance writer can kick off his career, get some good clips, and make a few bucks at the same time.

The Industry We’re In

You’re a writer, so why not write about writing? Brainstorm a few ideas about the writing process and write articles based on what you come up with. If you’re just starting out use your situation as your inspiration, because there are plenty of other writers in the some boat that want to know they are not alone.

You could write about the issues or problems you face while setting out on the freelancing road, how you overcame them, the methods you develop for churning out your work, aspects of web-related work, blogging work, or even the fact you are attempting to work in a niche market can be as good a place as any to start.

It’s true when they say that a writer is only limited by the extent of their ideas, and your advice and point of view will be of interest to many.

Sales and Marketing

A quick scan of Internet job boards will reveal the amount of companies, website organizations, and individuals that are always on the hunt for a writer who can specialize in sales and marketing copy.

Sales and marketing covers a broad range of material, so it’s perfect for breaking down into bite-sized chunks. It’s possible to find something you are good at that you can gain confidence from, in what is a potentially lucrative market.

Are you good at blowing your own trumpet? Then start writing press releases. Maybe you have some web experience? Try your hand at writing web content. Or perhaps you have an addiction to buying products online, and you’ve become an expert at what makes a good sales pitch? Then have a bash at writing sales letters!

There are courses available for all of these topics, ranging from the beginner to the serious, but if you start small and focus hard, you can gain a world of experience, which is the most valuable commodity of all.

Direct Mail

Direct mail is a specialist form of copywriting. It is all about producing high quality, effective marketing techniques through the medium of the written word. Put another way, wherever there is somebody with something to sell there is usually a direct mail opportunity.

To be a good writer in this market can, in some cases, mean extremely well paid and long term work. But to receive that level of compensation, the direct mail copywriter must be as creative as he is proficient. He must be able to research the product and market he is writing about, and have a strong and close relationship with the company he is writing for.

The World of Finance

This can be a tricky niche to write in, but when broken down it can prove to be very lucrative, both financially, and in the amount of work that might be cultivated.

This market tends to have a lot of niche writers because the finance industry is so large, and has its own set of terminology and rules. So understanding how the economy works, and how to make sense of the financial markets, will give you a head start.

It’s perfect for writers who have come into freelancing at a later stage in their life, or for those who took a degree in economics, only to realize they preferred writing about it, instead of working in it.

Technical Writing

Technical writing is not for everyone. It requires the ability to grasp technical subjects and apply the principles of that technology in a way that will both appeal, and be understood by technical and non-technical readers.

Understanding the subject will give you a good start, but if you can’t portray the processes and technical background in layman’s terms, then it might be best to stay clear. If, however, you have a talent for making sense out of complicated material, or if you have the ability to strip down a PC and rebuild it again by referring to a two-page leaflet in your spare time, for example, then it could be the perfect niche market for you.

Professional Writing

Professional writing is close to technical writing, in that the writer is required to have specialist knowledge in a dedicated field. But while it can be a good niche market to get a foothold in, even if you are proficient and willing to learn fast, it won’t get you publishing credits of note.

However, academics and students are notorious at turning in poor quality reports, theses, and essays, and so are often willing to pay handsomely for someone who can – especially when there are end of term deadlines involved.

This form of writing might also find the freelance writer producing work for training manuals, self-help books, or e-books, which is another lucrative and booming market in itself.

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6 Responses to “Creating Your Freelance Niche”

  • Ali

    Colin, just wanted to say a big THANK YOU for the above tips. I’m trying (slowly, tentatively) to get a foothold on freelance writing, and this is very useful information. Definitely bookmarking this article to come back to!

    Best,

    Ali

  • Mary B.

    I’m a bit nervous over the following comment in your section “Professional Writing”:

    However, academics and students are notorious at turning in poor quality reports, theses, and essays, and so are often willing to pay handsomely for someone who can – especially when there are end of term deadlines involved.

    People in academia are expected to write their OWN papers, reports, articles, etc. Plagiarism or hiring someone to write papers is a serious ethical violation and can be grounds for expulsion. Discussion about this very topic comes up often within any community of writers, and most professional writers will tell you that they refuse to do this kind of work.

  • Angela Booth

    Great post. I especially like “2 – No Obvious Existing Expert Knowledge” – everyone knows something and can write about it.

    If you’re a student, write about it.
    If you’re a mom, write about toddlers and parenting.
    If you have a dog – there are magazines and Web sites galore waiting for your words.

    Start where you are, and you can’t go wrong.

    Cheers

    Angela

  • Deb Ng

    I honestly believe everyone is an expert on something. Some people are good with plants, others can clean houses. Some are good with numbers, others are walking musical encyclopedias. Everyone has a niche, even if it’s a niche not too many people know about.

  • Prof. Larry M. Lynch

    I agree with the posts that say everyone’s an expert in something. Actually a surprising number of people re actually experts in two, three or more areas. As you get older, you especially have expanded your areas of experience, skills and knowledge.

    Think of what you know or have learned, what you can do, have done, and where you’ve been in addition to what you like, are good at, enjoy as a pastime, hobby, avocation or occupation and you’ll likely be rampant with ideas, niches and topics.

    Your cup may well literally, have runneth over.

    No matter what your age, skill or educational level – Go for it!

    Sincerely,

    Prof. Larry M. Lynch
    http://bettereflteacher.blogspot.com/

  • Philip

    I can’t speak about writing, but I know that in other fields this “everyone’s an expert in something” theory can be very dangerous.

    Dangerous because while you may know lots about a subject, there might be only a tiny market for that expertise. Or there may even be a decent market, but it’s over-supplied with a gazillion other people that are also just as expert as you are.

    If you intend to get paid for your work, and not just get in some practice at writing, then my guess is you probably need (a) a topic which you know and/or love, (b) for which there is an appropriate paying market and (c) something that differentiates you from all the other people writing for that market.

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