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Freelance Writers: Is Your Niche to Narrow to Make a Living?

Back in mid-December, I received the following email from someone who’s thinking about taking his professional experience and turning it into a freelance writing career. He wrote:

Hi, Ms. Black,

I’ve been haunting your blog for some time now and have learned a lot, thanks so much for your experienced insights. I’m thinking about making the plunge into freelance writing, but it’s a daunting decision. My question is about a niche I’m thinking of pursuing.

I’m a semi-retired, pretty much burned out, landscape architect, and thought I’d leverage my experience and target landscape architects, maybe architects, landscape designers and other businesses and non-profits in the green industry (working WITH the industry instead of IN it). Landscape architects especially, as I am one and understand the particulars of this profession.

I guess my question is do you think targeting design professionals would be a profitable niche? Landscape architects are divided into 3 broad categories: those who practice in the private sector (either owning their on firms or working for someone who does); those in the public sector (govt. offices, etc.); and academics. I can think of several services I could offer each of these groups, as well as others in the green industry.

Any advice you could give without taking too much of your time would be greatly appreciated.

Note: This post contains affiliate links. Read my affiliate disclosure policy for full details.

My Quick Answer on Nicheing It as a Freelance Writer

R:

Glad you’ve found the blog helpful. I’m on deadline, so no time for an in-depth answer right now, but what I will say is this … I think ur narrowing it down too much. You can write about “green / environmentally friendly” landscaping, gardening, horticulturalism in general.

This will give you a bigger base to target – esp first starting out. That way, you don’t pigeon-hole yourself too tight – and you still write in a niche you know and love. FYI, the stuff outside of “green landscaping” might require more research on your part, but as a writer, you’re going to find that you need to do that anyway — no matter how familiar you are with a subject matter.

A couple of people have sent in questions regarding targeting niches in the last week or so, so I’ll be doing a more expansive post on it over the next couple of weeks. In the meantime, hope this helps. And good luck if you make the leap.
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As promised, here’s my more expansive post.

How to Tell If Your Freelance Writing Niche Is Broad Enough to Make a Living

Following are a few ways …

Industry Associations: Does the niche you’re thinking of targeting have any?

For example, attorneys have the American Bar Association; doctors, the American Medical Association (AMA); horse breeders/lovers, the American Kennel Club (AKC); etc.

Organizations signal that there’s a unified, interested group of people who want to interact with each other; set guidelines for their industry and quite often, pay to do so. And FYI, these are great entities to target to find writing jobs.

Other Writers: Are other freelance writers targeting this niche? Lots of other freelance writers? Have they been in business for a while?

Then more than likely, they’re making money from it. Hence, it’s wide and deep enough to make some money for you.

Keyword Research: Use Google’s keyword research tool to see how many searches are conducted in any given month for the niche you like.

FYI, this is a good way to discover untapped markets too.

The Easiest Way to Choose a Broad, Profitable Freelance Writing Niche

You don’t have to stretch your brain to come up with a niche. There are ones that are evergreen that can be broken down into several sub-niches, eg:

Evergreen Writing Niches

Parenting: Some sub-niches can be single parenting, adoption, raising teenagers, kids and divorce, etc.

Business: This can be broken down in 1,001 different ways, eg, technology, digital marketing, small biz taxes, small biz legal issues, customer service, etc.

Personal Finance: Niches run the gamut from getting out of debt, to saving for retirement, to investing advice for women, etc.

The Environment: Marine life, solar, eco-tourism and climate change are a few niches that come to mind.

Pets/Animals: Another niche that’s so broad that you can chop it up hundreds of ways, eg, dog health, cat toys, breeding horses, reptiles as pets, etc.

Diet/Weight Loss/Health/Fitness: How to lose weight, eating disorders, how to gain weight (yeah, there are people with this problem and it’s not talked about nearly enough), yoga, etc.

Technology: Web design, data storage and security, educational technology, mobile devices, etc.

Medical: Nutrition, plastic surgery, dental, allergies, mental health, cancer, skin diseases, hair loss, reproduction, etc.

Space/Aviation: Aviation law, space exploration, air travel, business aviation, etc.

Legal: Some niches that come to mind are business incorporation, medical malpractice, family law, real estate law, trusts and estates, etc.

See how broad even some of these niches are? So just because a niche is popular and/or evergreen, does not mean that it’s too crowded. In fact, they’re popular and evergreen for a reason – because there’s a consumer base for them.

2 Tips on Choosing a Freelance Writing Niche

Your Experience: The first thing I advise doing is seeing where your experience and your interest coincide. This is the quickest way to start landing gigs.

When I first started writing SEO content, I responded to an ad that was looking for a mortgage writer. The article I sent wasn’t even “SEO’d” (at that time I didn’t know how to write SEO content, but I quickly learned!)

The company hired me anyway though because I knew how to write this content – and it’s because I’ve been a home loan officer. I’ve also been a real estate agent, so I know how to write this type of content from several different angles.

Just your experience alone will be enough in many cases to land you a gig writing certain type of content.

Your Likes/Dislikes: I don’t care how much experience you have in a given niche, if you intensely dislike it, for heaven’s sake, don’t specialize in it. You’ll be miserable – and you’re not about to pour all of your hard earned time and money into starting a career you hate, are you?

But there still may be a way to put your experience to use. As freelancer Esayo said in the comments section of this post:

I realise, this is my dilemma right now [choosing a niche]. Although I have a strong health background, it is certainly not my passion; but it is a means to an end. I am therefore totally grateful for the links you provided to help me tailor my website in such a way that I can choose to specialise in health yet still write for other niches.

Jenn Mattern over at All Indie Writers made this very important point in her post, Freelance Writing Niches: Profit vs Passion:

That’s not to say you should always focus on the topics you’re most passionate about either. If you’re really interested in freelance writing as a business activity and not just a hobby, how much you might be able to earn in a niche has to matter.

Sometimes potential profit might drive your passion or push you past your dislike(s).

Be Sure to Do This After Selecting Your Niche

Once you settle on a niche, be sure to brand it. Think through everything from your domain name choice to your logo to make sure it all gels. Everything about your branding should scream, “Hey, this is what I do!

Over to You …

How did you choose your freelance writing niche? Is there anything else you’d like to know about choosing one? Sound off in the comments section below.

Coming Friday: Why the New Year Is the Perfect Time to Raise Your Freelance Writing Rates

P.S.: I Need Your Help

This blog is to help all freelance writers succeed. In that spirit, I’m planning a post next Monday on advice for new freelance writers. If you’re a newbie to the profession and/or are thinking about getting started, what would you like to know? And if you’re an experienced freelancer, what advice would you give to newbies?

You can respond in the comments section below, or shoot me an email (info[at]InkwellEditorial.com). Thanks in advance for your help/response. Hope your week is going well so far.

P.P.S.: Start Your Freelance Writing Career for $0!

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