Having trouble choosing a freelance writing niche?
Been there, done that!
When I started freelance writing, I was against choosing a niche for the longest time. I thought if I narrowed my services down, I would miss out on clients. As a new freelance writer, that was the last thing I wanted. After all, I was already having a difficult time finding high-paying clients with steady work.
For months, I took whatever work I could find, regardless of what industry it fell in.
Before I knew it, I was feeling burnt out and wondering if I could actually make freelance writing work for me. As I read blog post after blog post written by people crushing it as freelance writers, the imposter syndrome hit me hard. I kept wondering why I wasn't successful too. What was I doing wrong?
Once I began working with my first real client, it became pretty clear.
1. I was undervaluing my work and undercharging for my services. Though undervaluing my work was a big issue, that's a story for another day. You can read about it here.
2. I had no credibility. I wasn't giving potential clients any reason to work with me. Rather than painting myself as an expert in one or two specific industries, I was positioning myself as a generalist.
Why You Need Credibility as a Freelance Writer
While it's great to be versatile, high-paying clients don't want to work with a generalist. They want to work with an expert that's going to drive results for their business.
In other words:
High-quality clients prefer to work with a writer with a clear niche.
Here's an example:
Let's say you need a professional website and a logo that captures the personality of you and your business. You have a clear vision of what you want your branding and website to look like and just need to hire someone to execute it.
Freelancer A: Clearly has experience with branding and web design, but their portfolio is all over the map.
Freelancer B: Has similar experience with branding and web design but their portfolio seems to be geared towards developing branding and web design specifically for freelance writers.
Who would you choose, Freelancer A or Freelancer B?
Chances are you'd choose Freelancer B because they've positioned themselves as an expert in exactly what you need.
Is Freelancer B better than Freelancer A? Not necessarily.
Freelancer A could have been just as great at designing your website as Freelancer B. The difference is Freelancer B marketed their expertise at developing websites and branding for freelance writers.
Bottom line: Marketing yourself as an expert capable of delivering results establishes trust with potential clients. Instead of being a generalist, focus on building a reputation as a results-oriented writer in your niche.
The Secret to Choosing a Freelance Writing Niche
Freelance writers seem to put a lot of pressure on themselves when it comes to selecting a niche. It's kind of like when you're trying to choose a college major but have no idea what you want to do. That's totally normal! You haven't gotten enough real-life experience yet to know exactly what you want to do. Your interests are sure to change with the more experience you get.
The thing is, choosing a freelance writing niche doesn't have to be so stressful. Just like declaring a major, your freelance writing niche isn't permanent; you can change it at any time. It's okay to test out a few different niches to find what works for you.
So, how do you identify what niches to test out? It's a lot easier than you may think!
How to Choose a Freelance Writing Niche
Ideally, your freelance writing niche will be a combination of three different areas:
- Something you have experience with or are knowledgeable about
- Something you're passionate about or interested in learning more about
- The type of content you enjoy writing
When you find an overlap between these three areas, you get what I like to call the “sweet spot,” aka, your freelance writing niche.
Use the steps below to find your sweet spot. Then, determine whether your niche will be profitable by identifying your target audience.
Tip: Grab a FREE copy of my workbook, The Freelance Writer's Guide to Choosing a Niche, and fill in your answers as you go. Oh, and the download includes a fun bonus, too!
Step #1: Identify Your Areas of Experience/Knowledge
The first step is to determine whether or not you have any experience or knowledge that will help you choose a freelance writing niche. Calling on what you already know can narrow down your list and make it easier to build your credibility.
Use the following questions as a reference point and make a list of the answers.
- What do you know more about than the average person?
- Is there something your friends or family come to you for advice or an opinion about?
- What are your hobbies?
- Do you have any prior work or life experiences that could help you narrow down your freelance writing niche?
Step #2: Identify Your Interests
When selecting a freelance writing niche, you need to choose something you don't mind writing or researching a lot about. Identifying your areas of interests and passions will keep you from getting bored and feeling burnt out.
- What are you interested in learning more about?
- What are you passionate about doing?
- Are there any topics you currently enjoy writing about
- What could you write about over and over again without getting bored?
- Are there certain topics you tend to gravitate towards when browsing content like articles, blogs, or videos?
Step #3: Decide What Kind of Content You Want to Write
Every writer has a different set of skills. Some prefer writing dense content while others like to keep it light. By narrowing down the type of content you want to write, you can further define your niche. Then you can adjust your services to accommodate your niche and target client.
- Do you enjoy writing informative content like how-to guides?
- Are you interested in simplifying dense content to make it easier to understand?
- Do you like to string together words that inspire the reader to take action?
- Do you like to create content that encourages readers to engage with and share it?
- Are you more technical or more creative?
Some of the different types of writing you can do include:
- Case studies
- Blog posts
- Press releases
- Social media content
- Email marketing content
- Sales pages
Step #4: Review your Lists
Now that you've explored your prior experience, interests, and the type of content you like to write, review your list.
Are there any areas that overlap? If so, that's your sweet spot!
Not seeing any correlation between the different sections? That's okay, too! Highlight the topics you're the most excited about. Then, pair them with the types of content you like to write.
As mentioned earlier, it's okay to play around with different niches. As you test them out, you may be able to better define and narrow your niche.
Now that you've got a list of potential niches, circle 2-5 that you're interested in and move on to the next step.
Step #5: Identify Your Target Client
The very last step to selecting a freelance writing niche requires a little research. I know not everyone enjoys research, but you definitely don't want to skip this step.
In step #5, you need to determine whether or not any of the niches you've chosen will be profitable. To do that, you'll need to identify your target client.
- What industry does your target client work in?
- Who would you contact to pitch your services? Larger companies will more than likely have a marketing team while smaller companies may not. So, will you be cold emailing the president or CEO of the company, or the marketing director?
- What kind of budget does your target client have? A Fortune 500 company is going to have a bigger budget than a start-up will.
- What kind of content does your target client value? Do they need informative blog posts to teach and engage with their audience or are they looking for technical writing to be shared among their peers? (ex. blog posts vs. manuals)
During this step, Google is definitely your friend! I also recommend searching job sites like Indeed, JobsHQ, and ZipRecruiter to see if there are listings for writers in your chosen industry.
Test Out Your Freelance Writing Niche
I know I've said this already, but the third time is a charm, right?
Don't be afraid to test out a few different niches!
Nothing is set in stone and the best way to discover what you enjoy writing about is to try different things. There's nothing wrong with tweaking your niche as you go.
Maybe you find you love writing about technology but don't like writing whitepapers. Switch it up! Swapping whitepapers for blog posts may be the perfect combo.
After all, you never really know until you try!
Make sure you download my FREE workbook, A Freelance Writer's Guide to Choosing a Niche to help you through the steps. When you do, you'll also get a bonus list of 20 profitable freelance writing niches!