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Should SEO Writers Specialize, or Is Being a Generalist Better?

Night before last, I received the following email from someone interested in the SEO Writing / Upwork Course e-class. Sometimes, when you’ve been doing something for so long, you assume that some things are automatically known by everyone. That’s why I thought this was a very good question that those unfamiliar with writing SEO content might not know.

Should SEO Writers Have a Niche, or Not?

He wrote:

From what I have read so far, my understanding is that an SEO copywriter normally works as a generalist, not in a particular niche. Is this understanding correct, or can it be both?

FYI, before we get to my answer, here’s the updated FAQ section about the SEO copywriting course. I received a couple of questions over the last couple of days and I added them to the list. Now, to answer the question posed above.

My Answer

Yes, many SEO writers do WIND UP working as generalists, even if they do start out as niche specialists. And that’s because, once a client hires you and knows that you have an understanding of SEO, they’ll likely give you assignments that have nothing to do with your stated niche.

For example, when I first started, I landed a gig with a SEO firm in Canada. They hired me because of my specialty (real estate / mortgages). But as they had lots if clients in lots of different niches, once they saw that I understood how to correctly write SEO copy, I wrote a few thousand articles for them on everything from wedding cake toppers, to how to make wire jewelry, to arctic drilling equipment.

I still advise cultivating a niche. So, for example, if you’re a legal SEO writer and you market yourself only to law firms, then those are the clients you’re gonna snag.

But if you cast a wider net, eg, marketing to SEO firms, digital marketing agencies, web design companeis, etc., then you’re going to get more diverse writing assignments simply because their client base is diverse.

So just keep that in mind, ok? And this, by the way, is a blessing – at least it was for me. Why?

Why It’s Hard to Get Bored as a SEO Writer — at Least for Me

I’ve said it here before, but I have a touch of Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). Writing search engine-optimized content has been a great career option for me because you rarely do the same type of writing all the time.

At one point before I started writing SEO content, I wrote so many articles on mortgages (one of my niches), that I’m sure I plagiarized my own stuff at times.

I was sick of writing about mortgages, even though in general I love the broader subject matter (real estate).

One Big Drawback of Writing SEO Content

So when I landed my first gig writing for that SEO company in Canada and they started throwing other kinds of content writing my way, I was thrilled. But, like anything, it was a double-edged sword. Once, I had to write an article on arctic drilling equipment.

It was hard to find research on this topic and pulling together a 500-word article was like pulling teeth one by one with a pair of pliers. Yeah, that torturous! And by the way, to this day, I couldn’t tell you one thing about arctic drilling equipment. Not one. I think that subject matter traumatized me as a writer. LOL!

I was so glad to get back to easy breezy content after that, that I didn’t even balk when I had to write on weddings; a subject matter I’m not particularly fond of. I don’t know why, it’s just not my thing. Sue me, I grew up a tomboy!

5 Reasons Writing SEO Content Quickly Became a Favorite for Me

Overall though, of all the types of writing I’ve done – eg, press releases, case studies, newsletters – writing SEO content is my favorite. And it’s because:

1) It’s Easy

It’s pretty easy to write this type of content, once you learn the rules;

2) Lots of Work

This is due in large part to content marketing, which is only becoming more popular.  If you know how to market for it, jobs can be pretty seamless to come by. And, as almost all online writing jobs have some “SEO” component to them these days, there is a ton of work out there. And the types of content that’s needed is enormous, eg, blog posts, web articles, social media posts, infographics, memes, content upgrades, etc.

Now, finding ones that pay a decent rate can be a challenge. You have to know how to market yourself to land the higher paying gigs, but they’re out there.

3) It’s an Evergreen Skill That Can Earn You Money in Multiple Ways

I’ve told this story a gazillion times, but learning SEO taught me how to market effectively online. Once I learned it, I applied that knowledge to marketing my own ebooks and e-classes online. Nowadays, that’s how I earn the bulk of my money — via info products and services I develop and promote (eclasses and ebooks; fiction and non-fiction).

I wouldn’t be nearly as successful as I have been without knowing the rules of search.

4) It’s Quick in Turnaround and Pay

Most clients put in a content order and once you complete it, they pay right away. It’s rare that I have to wait more than a couple of weeks to get paid, unless I move clients to a monthly payment schedule. And that’s usually for trusted, long-term clients who have standing orders of “x” number of blog posts or web articles per month; and

5) Clients are Hands-Off

They tend to be no non-sense and business like because they have one million and one things going on, like most online business owners. So they’ll give you an order, a deadline and trust you to get it done, without being all up in your hair and/or requesting a gazillion changes.

How to Avoid the Drawbacks of SEO Copywriting

With all that being said, I don’t want to make it seem like SEO writing is a bed of roses. Lots of it is still low-paying; turnaround times can be quick; and you can get overwhelmed pretty quickly. But if you go in knowing this, you’ll adjust quickly by putting in processes and procedures to keep these drawbacks under control, ie:

  • Have a bottom-line rate below which you will not go, no matter what;
  • Outsource work to others so you don’t get overwhelmed; and
  • Also, never promise a delivery date you can’t foresee making. Build in extra time so you’re not working around the clock.

To clarify this last point more, when I first started writing content in 2007, turnaround times requested were much quicker than they are now. It wasn’t uncommon for a client to want 5 or 10, 400 or 500-word articles within a day or two.

Nowadays, the type of content requested tends to be longer 750 to 1,000 or 1,500 words or more, and turnaround times of three, four or five days or more is not uncommon. So this is less of a worry than it used to be.

Do You Land More Writing Gigs as a Specialist or a Generalist?

I used to be adamdant that freelance writers should specialize. SEO writing has tempered this advice somewhat. In my opinion and experience — in this niche of freelance writing — success landing gigs has less to do with whether or not you specialize, and more to do with how often and how effective your marketing is.

Now, for sure your target market has to be broad enough for you to attract enough clients. So I wouldn’t go specializing in being an “arctic drilling equipment SEO writer.” LOL! But if you select a broad enough niche, you can specialize and do really well, or stay a generalist and do well also.

One caveat I will throw out is that I think you can earn more by working less as a specialist, for all the reasons stated in this post.

But either way, if you know how to write SEO content, you can earn a good living — whether you specialize or not. I think other freelance SEO writers can attest to this.

What Does “SEO” Mean?

I’ve probably written SEO a dozen or more times in this post so far. In case you don’t know what it is, SEO is the acronym for search engine optimization. Get more details about what this type of online writing entails, salary expectations, skills required, and much more.

Hope you had a good Memorial Day, and are ready to get back on the grind, if you didn’t already use the holiday weekend to make some headway with your freelance business.

Best,
Yuwanda

P.S.: Make Money Writing in 3 Different Ways: Get full details.

P.P.S.: A Practically Fail-Proof Way to Start a High-Paying Online Writing Biz

There are so many online writing opportunities these days. With the right knowledge, it’s an excellent way to earn a living from home – part-time or full-time. Get online (SEO) copywriter training and claim your share of the freelance writing pie!

Note: Price of both EO writing courses will increase on Monday, June 15th to $499 for the bundled SEO/Upwork course; and $349 for the standalone SEO writing course. Here’s the difference between the two.

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