One of the most attractive aspects of freelance copywriting is the freedom to explore virtually any topic under the sun. Many of the freelancers we know are the kinds of people who love learning and have endless curiosity, but if you never settle down into a niche, you may find that your career doesn't develop and advance like you want it to. Why is that?
Each time you begin writing in a new niche it's like starting over as a freelance writer. You have to find new stories, new sources for statistics and background information, and new clients. And as you start over in a new niche your pay rate will be that of a beginner for a while until you prove your expertise in the subject matter.
With niche expertise, however, your freelance copywriting life gets easier. Sources catch on to the fact that you write about a certain topic, and they send tips your way about breaking news and coming trends. You meet people in your niche, and your network grows, bringing you new clients and better paying jobs.
So how do you find your niche?
Start by Taking Any Job You Can Get
If you're new to freelance copywriting, now is not the time to be picky. At the beginning, take any job you can get, but be mindful of the process. After each job ask yourself the following questions:
- Was this job interesting?
- Did I do a good job with it?
- How did it pay compared to other jobs?
When you pay attention to the development of your fledgling freelance copywriting career, you'll see trends emerge. Maybe you don't like writing about healthcare after all, but you realize that your interest in small cap stocks is a freelancing gold mine and those small cap stocks assignments paid better.
Pay Attention to Supply and Demand
When freelancers first start out, they often look for writing gigs they feel comfortable with. That's why so many freelancers look for assignments in arts and entertainment. Sure, it's fun to write about arts and entertainment, but the problem is competition. If a client has 100 writers to choose from for an arts and entertainment job, he's not going to have to pay very much. On the other hand, that credit union who needs someone to write about auto loans will be willing to pay higher rates for good quality, well-written content.
This doesn't mean you have to choose a boring niche in order to make good money; in fact, you'll find that niches with more depth lead to all kinds of interesting work once you become established as an experienced writer in the field. Don't sell yourself short by settling for a niche that is too broad or too low paying.
Build Your Network
Once you've found a niche that appeals to you and that provides a steady stream of work, start building your network. Your network shouldn't just consist of potential clients, although you'll need plenty of those. You also need sources for ideas, people you can interview in a pinch, and websites and blogs for collecting statistics and breaking news. Find a few local sources you can call on the phone, but don't overlook social media. LinkedIn and Twitter are great places to find thought leaders in your niche. Comment on industry-specific blogs when you have something interesting and thought-provoking to say. Don't be afraid to sound like you know what you're talking about. With each writing assignment your expertise grows.
If having one niche is good, then having two niches is better. Great-paying freelance clients can disappear overnight for a variety of reasons, and no industry is impervious to the volatility of the economy. When you develop two or even three niches simultaneously, you build a buffer between yourself and unemployment.
In the world of freelance copywriting, strategy is important. If you randomly choose assignments that sound fun at the moment, you'll make a little money and have a little fun. But if you strategically build your presence as a niche writer, you'll develop a bona fide career, and soon you'll have clients who depend on you. They'll need you and your expertise as an integral part of their businesses. As your value as a niche writer grows, you'll be able to charge more for your work, and you'll develop a network of clients and contacts who are great resources and can alert you to better and better jobs.
So what's your niche?