Monday, June 23, 2008

Resisting a Writing Niche

When I started freelancing, I couldn't understand why so many freelance writers were limiting themselves to a niche. Wouldn't they be limiting their work? Wouldn't that cut down on the kind of jobs they could take on?

After awhile, I could see the temptation to take on a niche. Once you get used to writing about something, it gets easier and easier. You are then able to write it in less time and take on more work, making the day more profitable.

But, I have tried to resist the lure of the niche. For one thing, it does exactly what I feared. It does limit the kinds of projects you can take on. It won't matter much if someone is paying $25 a word for articles about mushrooms if the only thing you've ever written about is constipation. It isn't necessary to most clients that you have direct experience writing about their specific topic- if you can show that you write about many topics well.

Even if you do write about one or two things more than any other (marketing!), it's still important to make the effort to write outside that niche. If you have some health samples (no, not urine), some marketing samples, a few home improvement samples and an article or two about onions, you can demonstrate that no topic is beyond you.


Russell Cavanagh said...

Hi L,
I think the niche thing is primarily a hangover from print. In the fight for finite space on a printed page, it was important to build credibility in order to be taken seriously by print editors and considered for publication over other hopefuls and one way of doing that was to specialise. No reason one can't have a couple of "specialities" and use these to try to market one's services in various sectors and keep up the more varied topic stuff too ...
By the way, you might be interested in this guy's blog. I think some of his stuff is interesting.
All the best ...

L. Shepherd said...

I think it is partially a print leftover- but I'm not a beat reporter anymore. I'll never be held to a niche again.

I think some of it has to do with confidence, too. There are a lot of freelancers who stick to a topics or two out of fear that they wouldn't be good at any others.

I like the site you posted- great stuff there, and not your average topics.

Russell Cavanagh said...

Thanks. I appreciate you not posting my previous comment. I am new to some subtleties of writing on and for the web.

L. Shepherd said...

I don't have one that was rejected- did you want me to take the last one down?

Russell Cavanagh said...

Wonder what happened to it ... ! It was about "niche" after positive developments currently arising from my experience of "niching" but I think I was a wee bit less than circumspect about my Suite 101 experience. It wasn't terrible or libelous but with the web being so wide open ... and there was a smEll (lol)typo.
Anyway ... Greetings and thanks from a rainy Sheffield! 8-)