Should freelance writers stick to a specific niche? This is a really good question without an easy answer. It really comes down to it depends. Discover if writing in one niche is the right move for you.
A lot of “experts” will tell you, you must pick a niche and stick with it if you want to be successful. While that might not be terrible advice, it isn’t necessarily great advice either.
There are pros and cons of writing in one niche that you should know before you go down this road.
The Pros of Writing In One Niche
I have to admit, I have always been, at heart, a generalist when it comes to writing. For years, I didn’t pick a niche. I wrote whatever came my way.
I always figured that if I could write on one subject and do the needed research there was no reason I couldn’t do it for some other subject.
There are limitations, of course. I had a client that wanted me to write a couple of case studies about very high-level technical subjects that I didn’t understand, so I had to pass on those.
Otherwise, I wrote about some crazy things over the years. My clients were always happy and I enjoyed the money coming in.
I also learned a lot about a whole lot of different subjects.
Even so, I suppose there are some advantages of sticking to a specific niche including these.
1. Easier to Market for Clients
It is true. It is easier to market for clients. For example, I wrote for a lot of accountants. I knew the subject matter as I have a degree in accounting, so I knew what they wanted and needed.
I didn’t have to switch up my marketing for different types of clients.
Most of my clients came from sending an email or picking up the phone and calling them.
When I marketed to accountants I could use the same email and say the same things.
If I had wanted to, I could have had a website that showcased what I could offer to accountants as a freelance writer.
In this way, having a specific niche does make things a little easier.
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2. Become an Expert in the Field
Continuing on with the above example, if I had a website that marketed me as an accountant’s copywriter, people would see me as an expert in the field.
They would assume that I knew more about writing for accountants than someone that didn’t have that focus.
That might help you stand out from the crowd.
3. You Can Write Faster (less research)
One thing I do know is true if you write for one specific niche you can write faster. It takes less time to research and you pretty much already know what you’re going to say.
Some articles you might not have to research at all because you’ve already written similar articles in the past for a different client.
Maybe it takes you an hour or so to research and write a 1,000-word article on a new subject, but you can write the same length of an article on a subject you already know in 40 minutes.
If that’s the case, then you just gave yourself a raise.
Cons of Writing in One Niche
Of course, there are some downsides to sticking with a specific niche.
1. You Might Have Picked the Wrong One
When you are just starting out, how do you really know what you want to write about? You might think you want to write about the health field and then you get into it and find out it is difficult to get clients and you really don’t enjoy it.
The problem is you’ve spent a bunch of time positioning yourself as an expert in this niche and now you feel stuck.
If you allow yourself to write about all sorts of subjects when you are starting out, you will discover what you truly enjoy and are good at. Then, you can start to narrow your writing to fit that niche.
Also, what if you think you want to write about running, for example. Maybe you are a runner and know a lot about it, so it feels like a good fit.
But then a few months in, you realize that there isn’t a lot of need for freelance writers that specialize in writing about running, and what clients are out there pay terribly.
That would kind of suck.
Allowing yourself to be a generalist for a while, will end up giving you the space to determine what you truly want to write about later on.
2. What You Want to Write and Who You Want to Write For Changes Over Time
When I started out, I didn’t pick a niche. In fact, I never truly did, but I do write a lot about accounting and taxes.
I also started out by writing blog posts and web pages. That was the easiest way to get into the freelance writing business.
While I am happy to write those things, I didn’t know then, that what I truly love writing, and am really good at are email series.
I had no way of knowing that until I started writing them a few years into my freelancing career.
So, while I write for accountants I broadened my search to other types of businesses that use a lot of email series.
Now, it makes sense to throw up a website to show the world that I am an expert in that type of writing. The niche is the type of writing and not the subject matter.
The point is, when you are just starting out, you might not realize what the possibilities are and what will be a good fit for you.
3. Your Writing Gets Stale and You Get Bored
I ran across a niche website owner the other day that was ranting against freelance writers that didn’t pick a specific niche and stick with it. Of course, he had never been a freelance writer, so he really had no idea what he was talking about.
That said, his point was he would rather hire someone with experience in the subject matter of his website which happened to be a pet website.
I pointed out that if he found a freelance writer to write content for him, for example, an article on how to housebreak a dog, how could that article be any different from the 50 or 100 other articles they had written on the same subject matter for other clients?
You can only write about housebreaking a dog in so many ways.
Think about it, you are in danger of writing the exact same thing, maybe using different words. That sounds pretty boring to me not to mention your writing can get really stale.
In the end, I think the reason most of these “experts” say you need to pick a specific niche and stick with it is that they are also telling you to try and find clients in the same places where everyone else is trying to find clients.
So, their advice makes sense. If you want to stand out as a subject matter expert when 20 or 50 or 100 other people are trying to get the same job you are then it makes sense.
However, if you go where there is no competition, then none of this matters.
That’s what I did. I emailed or picked up the phone and called companies that I wanted to write for.
There was no competition, so it didn’t matter if I was a subject matter expert because no one else was calling these people. If they needed a freelance writer I got the assignment.
I have to say that I found it easier to find clients as a generalist than as an expert in a specific niche, but that just might have been me.
In the end, you will have to decide for yourself if you want to pick a niche and go for it. Just realize that there is a good possibility that down the road you will want to change it, and that’s okay.
My best advice is to write for all types of niches and all different types of writing before you settle for one or two.
Is There a Demand for Freelance Writers?
Yes, there is a huge demand and it only grows bigger every day. With 32.5 million businesses in the United States and almost 600,000 new websites created each and every day, you should never run out of work.
To Sum it All Up:
When it comes to freelance writers picking a niche and sticking to it, there are some pros and cons. Starting out as a generalist allows you to discover, through experience, what types of writing you enjoy, and what subject matters you find the most interesting. Down the road, however, there are a few advantages to specializing even though I never took that path.