If there’s one piece of advice for writers that should never be overlooked, it’s the need for a writing niche. This is advice you may have already heard, but did you know that having a niche can actually help you earn more money in your writing career?
Niching out makes you more valuable to clients, allows you to be more productive, and gives you an easier job finding and marketing to clients.
Here’s how a writing niche can make you a more profitable writer.
Choosing a Niche
As a writer, your greatest strength is the expertise you bring to the table. If you don’t have something to offer that differentiates you from other writers, it might be difficult for you to build up a career. Niching helps solve this problem.
When you niche out, you’re narrowing down your focus to write mostly about things that fall into a specific range of topics. For example, you may choose to niche into writing about men’s haircare. In this case, you should actively seek out work in the haircare sector rather than taking up jobs on general fashion topics.
Carving out a niche doesn’t mean you restrict yourself to exclusively doing a certain type of work. Instead, you try to limit your scope as much as possible to a subject that you can make into your specialization or your expertise. Just like a doctor who goes on to study a specialty rather than doing general medicine, a writer can benefit from narrowly defining what they write about.
“When choosing a specialism, it’s really important that you select a topic that’s close to your heart and that you’re truly interested in. Your passion and enthusiasm will shine through in your writing and provide drive, which will keep you going during difficult times when your pitching ideas and trying to create a name for yourself in the industry.” says Jeanette Nkwate, Chief Content Officer at All Things Hair.
For most writers, creating a niche doesn’t mean that you refuse everything outside of your narrow niche. Often, writers with a specific niche will do related work, but you shouldn’t stray too far away. Using the previous example of men’s haircare, you may choose to take up a series of articles about women’s haircare, getting a good haircut for your face shape, wig maintenance, or similarly relevant topics. This way, you’re still sticking close to your niche while allowing yourself to take on more work.
Why Niches Matter
Niching helps you to stand out in an industry full of writers. There are millions of people around the world with varying degrees of skill in writing. When you’re just starting out, it’s tempting to try to take on as much work as possible, no matter what the subject matter is. While this might help your bottom line in the beginning, it’s ultimately a step in the wrong direction as it pulls you away from work that will actually help you advance to a better pay grade.
There are a few good reasons why you should think about niching.
When you choose a niche and stick close to it, you’ll have a clear path ahead of you to market yourself and build your reputation. If a client wants to hire a writer for a series of blog posts about women’s fashion, they likely won’t be interested in seeing your previous unrelated writing. If you send over a portfolio full of articles about how to cook vegan dinners or where to invest your money, this will be less compelling for someone looking to hire a writer.
It’s better to stay in your lane, at least enough to form a connection between yourself and the industry you’ve chosen to niche into. Get your byline on writing published by names or brands in that industry, build up a relevant portfolio, and get recommendations from previously successful projects whenever possible.
Without a clear focus, reaching out to the right sites becomes nearly impossible. Jeremy Moser, Co-Founder of the brand development group uSERP, says:
“Having a specific niche is critical for marketability. Without a niche, it’s nearly impossible to pitch bylined guest posts and build your personal brand authority. Diversifying is great, but overdoing it too soon spreads your authority too thin. Create a name for yourself in a specific vertical and as you scale, branch out into other interesting (yet related) areas of expertise.”
When you know how and where to promote yourself, it’s easier to make a plan. As a general writer, your work could be all over the place and you may be less likely to get bylines. When you specialise, you can target publications specifically related to your niche, make connections in your industry, and build up a portfolio of relevant work that you can proudly show to interested clients.
It’s far easier to marketing yourself as a “fashion writer” or a “food blogger” than as a content writer.
There is an abundance of online writers today. In the beginning of this industry, being a highly adaptable freelance writer was valuable because there were clients of all types just looking for someone to do the work. Now, clients can afford to be choosier about who they hire, since there are more writers available on the market. Unless you want to get caught up in price wars with a large collection of other writers, specialization is a must.
You can still accept projects outside of your specialization. But, having a specialty makes you more valuable to people looking for a specific type of writer. A women’s health magazine would prefer to hire someone that has experience writing in that field over a general writer with limited health and wellness exposure.
When you specialize, you’ll be able to earn more as you gain experience. Brands are generally willing to pay more for writers with relevant experience and proven success in their field. The types of clients you’re likely to get when you’re a specialized writer are the people who are willing to pay more for the services of a proven industry expert, rather than launching a bidding war to get the lowest price they can.
To stand out from the crowd of competitors, you need to prove your niche expertise when reaching out to potential clients. Here’s what Hugh Beaulac, a content strategist behind MC2 project, suggests:
“There’s no better way to prove your niche expertise than creating a portfolio of previously-published guest posts that showcase your knowledge. When solid companies accept your articles on their blogs, not only does it show off your experience and knowledge, but it also provides social proof that you’re an expert and helps to gain exposure as a writer. Over the long haul, it helps you get more clients fast.”
Specialization reduces your competitors, leading to better clients and more opportunities for work in your industry as you show your skills.
3. Time Management
A practical element of niching that’s not as widely discussed is the fact that narrowing your focus cuts down on the amount of time you spend researching for each piece you write. If you’re already familiar with the terms, tech, and current events for a certain niche, you won’t have to work as hard to write an article that “talks the talk”.
Imagine being tasked with writing a blog post about managing curly hair, geared towards an audience of women with curly hair. If your main focus is completely unrelated or if you have no experience dealing with/writing about curly hair, this blog post would take a long time to research and write. You would first have to read background knowledge to understand your audience.
But, if you regularly do articles about haircare and styling, including writing about curly hair on occasion, you would already understand the perspective of your audience. This allows you to skip the background reading and get straight into the work itself. As a result, your turnaround time could be faster, letting you get more done and take on even more work without creating a huge burden.
Aditya Sheth, Content Marketer at Venngage has the following tidbit to share about time management:
“I cannot stress how important niching down is, this article does a good job explaining just that. Picking a niche is crafting content that is aimed at a specific audience because content that’s targeted at everybody is usually for nobody. A helpful thing to remember is to focus on what you know best and ignore what you don’t. Too many people are always chasing the next shiny object. A lack of clear focus is why they will eventually falter and picking your focus areas is why you will succeed.”
How to Pick a Niche
A niche should be something you’re familiar with already and something you feel comfortable diving into on a regular basis. If you have any specific education in an area, such as a higher education certificate or any professional qualifications, that’s a useful starting point. Your interests are the easiest place to start, but don’t limit yourself just to topics you’re already interested in.
Your interests aren’t always a profitable writing niche. Often, if you’re looking for a higher profit career, you need to take a closer look at the industries where writers can get paid more and where they face less competition. Established industries are more likely to be profitable, and to have a varied selection of clientele, as opposed to young industries with fewer companies and less information available.
Look for industries with some level of permanence. Writers in the haircare industry have a greater level of permanence in their job than writers who focus on fad diets or new health trends. Even if there are changes and shifts in the haircare industry, the industry itself is not likely to fade away, whereas diets and health trends often change on a moment’s notice. Build your career around a niche that won’t disappear suddenly.
If you can find something you’re even mildly interested in that’s a well-established, permanent field, you’ve found the sweet spot!
Niches are not set in stone. Once you choose one, you can just as easily pivot to something else later down the road if your interests change. You’re also not obligated to work only in your niche industry, though it’s helpful to try to build up at least half of your workload in your niche.
If you want to make a profitable writing career, niching is your first step. Define your niche and work to build a reputation and a portfolio to support your expertise.