It’s hard to earn a living as a freelance writer if you’re not known and accepted as a professional in your field.
Niching down is one of the best things you can do for your writing business.
Finding your niche (or niches) and putting your focus on it is a sure way to boost your career. It helps you build credibility as a writer. In the end, the result of niching down is always more better-paid opportunities.
So how exactly do you approach finding your niche? It’s not easy and it takes time and work, so here are 7 steps to guide you through the process!
Why Niche Down?
When you begin your freelance writing career, you may come up with many different opportunities.
That’s great and these gigs let you explore this beautiful new field of work.
But chances are that those gigs won’t be well-paid. That’s because you haven’t built your cred as an expert yet.
You may also spend a lot more time than you expect doing research rather than actually writing. That’s because you simply don’t know these random topics to heart. While doing research is fun, it can be a huge time waster if you need to research the topic from scratch every single time.
When you define your niche, your assignments get so much easier to complete.
The main reason is that your knowledge of the field accumulates over time, so the bulk of your research becomes smaller.
But you also learn to recognize credible from terrible sources at first glance and start distinguishing important information from fluff.
Another effect is that you build your name and brand as a professional, so it’ll get easier for prospective clients to find you. After all, as a professional in the field, you’ll be invaluable to your clients.
They simply don’t want to waste money on half-baked content if they can get the real deal from you. When you find your niche, you’ll get paid more.
The benefits are incredible – the work gets easier AND your pay gets better when you niche down.
Sounds amazing, right?
Let’s jump right into actionable advice to help you find a perfect niche for you!
How to Find Your Freelance Writing Niche
1. Experiment with different topics
It’s simple – you can’t find a niche that you enjoy if you don’t try various options, some of which will be a total failure.
Defining your niche takes time and effort, and most of all, experimentation.
Of course, that doesn’t mean you should try just about anything out there. If you have no love for finance, chances are you won’t be happy writing about it.
Train your focus on subjects that are just right up your alley. Are you a movie fanatic? An avid gamer? An extreme sports enthusiast? A history buff? A rising star in the kitchen? Or, are you just a talented storyteller who can spin tales about anything? Whatever niche you choose should define at least one facet of your life, personality, or interests.
But most of us have at least a couple of things we’re interested in and enjoy reading about. It doesn’t matter whether that’s your current hobby, your long-lost passion, a previous profession, or simply something you’d like to explore. Try it out and see what you enjoy the most (or what pays best).
One of my favorite examples is a friend of mine who got out of the graphic design rat race to work as a writer in the sewing niche.
She enjoyed sewing since childhood but focused on other things along the way. After a sudden downsizing at her job, she finally had the time to return to her long-forgotten sewing craft.
She landed her first gig related to sewing after creating a few mock-up articles. Now, she earns a living by writing and seems happier than ever.
2. Learn As You Go
This step goes hand in hand with the previous one. In essence, any assignments you take will help improve your writing skills.
That’s why the beginning of your freelance writing career is the perfect time to explore as many lucrative niches as you can.
Use the first few months (or years, no pressure!) to learn about the freelance writing market and its trends. There are a lot of possible courses of action that can help establish your brand as a writer. Collecting as much information about your options will make it easier to find the path that works best for you.
3. Narrow Down
Who says you need to pick only one niche right away? For starters, narrow it down to two or three.
The simplest way to approach this is to try out many things and just drop what doesn’t feel right.
But that advice simply doesn’t work for some people.
If you’re not sure whether you should continue working in a niche or just forget about it, compare it to your other work by giving it a rating based on three criteria:
- How interesting it is to research continuously?
- How much of a challenge is it (if it’s too easy you may get bored quickly)?
- How much does it pay and is there enough demand?
4. Specialize in something
Once you narrow your selection down to one or two niches, it’s time to get down to business and specialize.
Of course, the best way to achieve this is with a bit of patience and persistence. The most important step in specializing is showing up day after day. That means taking the time to write (efficiently) even when you’re busy and sitting down to write even when you really don’t feel like doing it.
You may not feel like you did a lot after a day’s work, but the effects accumulate – and step by step, you’ll become more of an expert in your niche.
With a bit of persistence and smart scheduling, you will improve immensely. That, of course, includes how good and engaging your writing is, but also how well you understand the ins and outs of your niche, and how much research you need to do each time you get a new assignment.
This niche-specific knowledge and experience will let you write higher quality content faster, and let you charge more for it.
5. Give Yourself Time
It will be hard to present yourself as a professional and land lucrative writing gigs in the beginning.
You may need to settle for lower-paid or less impactful gigs when you’re just getting started. Don’t be discouraged – every beginning is hard. But I promise it gets better as you earn more experience.
It’s not easy to stay put when it takes a while to develop your business. There may be days when you don’t have any assignments to work on.
You can use those slow days to create mock-up articles, learn about your niche, read a good copy, and seek out opportunities. That way, you can still be productive even if you don’t have paid tasks to complete.
6. Advertise Your Services
Focusing on a particular niche makes it so much easier to advertise your services.
The main reason behind that is purely mathematical – you need to advertise to a focused target audience, rather than casting a wide net (which rarely works out).
Chances are that even within your niche you can choose from several types of work and kinds of prospective clients.
Decide on a specific type of work you want to try out first a go for it – create (or hire someone to help you create) advertising that’s tightly focused on that target group.
There are several ways to market your skills as a writer. You may turn to freelance platforms like UpWork, market your services on Craigslist, create ads on social media, or create your own blog.
Many great content creators don’t even need to actively advertise – the word of mouth that their happy customers spread brings them plenty of work!
7. Adapt As You Go
Finally, if you’re not happy with how things are at the moment – don’t settle. Keep on learning and adapting your business strategy to find the unique path that works for you.
Niching down as a freelance writer is always a good decision. But sometimes, rookie writers may try to hold onto their plans too rigidly.
Make sure to stay flexible to find good solutions for the problems life throws at you, even if they’re not what you had in mind when you first got started.
In fact, most writers that I know ended up doing something completely different than they imagined at first – and that’s wonderful. Finding your niche can be a beautiful self-exploration adventure.
I hope this article gets you started in the writing business and equips you with the knowledge of what lies ahead. How did you deal with finding your niche?
What were some unexpected obstacles you had to overcome? I’d love to hear about your experiences in the comment section below!