I’ve blogged about why you should not niche, but here I’ll write about when you do need to pick a freelance writing niche. You should choose a niche when you are uncomfortable with the way things are.
I hang out in a lot of Facebook groups with service providers. People talk about how they’ve been doing work for XYZ type of client and they are just so tired of it!
For example, “I’ve been building funnels for a year and a half. I used to take anyone and everyone who came to me, but I’m really tired of working for all these supplement dudes.”
Or they’ll take the opposite approach and say, “I’ve been working with anyone who comes in my door for the past year and a half. But I really love working with the mom-preneurs who are selling their sewn things on Etsy.”
Getting to either of these points are clues that it’s time to niche down at least a little bit:
Part of choosing your niche is finding the “sweet spot.” This is where you are really talented at helping a particular type of individual, or in a particular type of business, or maybe with a specific type of written product that you offer.
It’s a combo of the things that you’re really good at and something that you are really interested in doing.
Your niche may be a topic. If there’s a topic that you think is very interesting, comes easily to you, and you do really well when you’re writing about it, that’s a clue for your niche.
Perhaps there’s a type of customer that you enjoy working with, or a type that’s a lot easier to deal with. Maybe they pay on time. (Important!) You have no complaints about this type of customer and you have lots of complaints about a different type of customer.
Well, that’s a clue that you have found a niche for yourself or at least that you can burrow down one level!
If you are writing anything for anyone, and find that you really don’t like that type of work, then you are allowed to stop taking that type of work.
And as you’re making decisions about the types of clients you want to move away from, you get some insight into the types of clients you want to move toward.
Take note of the work that gets you to your desk with excitement, if not overt enthusiasm. The work that you’re really looking forward to or that you find is energizing. That work you keep and look for more of. But if you dread it, drop it!
I shifted more focus onto my courses and projects like my podcast when my writing business could sustain itself. My wish was to get out of writing blog posts. I wrote so many blog posts. Thousands over the past 10 years!
A year ago, I realized that I was dreading most of my assignments.
Not all of them. But even with the clients I like on a personal level, it was like, man, if I have to write another blog post, I just might cry.
I had actually niched pretty deeply. I was specializing in blog posts for personal finance bloggers. It was a good niche for me for years. I became the person people tagged in comments, which was pretty cool. But then I didn’t want to do it anymore.
I was learning more about types of writing that brought more money and when one person hired me to do some of his funnel copy, word got out that I could write funnel copy the right way. Then when someone else was looking for a writer in their own network, it was an easy connection to recommend me.
Now my niche is funnel copy, which is actually broader than blog posts because funnel copy involves different types of email sequences. It involves different pages within a sales funnel. I’ll do it for any kind of project. I didn’t burrow down, but tunneled up a little bit. I changed where I was going with my niche.
Listen to your thought process and body, the energy that you’re bringing to your work, and use that information. Information about whether you enjoy this, are afraid of it, dread it, any of that can be guidance for choosing your niche.
When you start out or even if you’ve been doing this for years, if you don’t feel clear on what exactly you want to offer or to whom you would like to offer your services, keep taking whatever comes your way. Avoid what you know you don’t like, but otherwise keep moving forward.
Take anything and everything that comes your way and see how you respond to it, physically and mentally. See what energy you bring and your attention response to it. You may find that you’re going to be a generalist for a long time!
It’s not until you’ve been doing this for a few years that you get super clear on what you want. I have a friend who was so tired of working with all different people. She just wanted to work with “soulful women whose missions are ones I can get behind.” That’s her new niche and she’s excelling!
She’s found a market who loves her and who she loves to serve, but she’s been in online businesses for years and only just found her service provider niche.
Sometimes it takes time. Once you start getting clues about what you do and don’t want to do, who you do and don’t want to do it for, and what you dread versus what you love, you can start channeling your energy in that direction.
Marketing as a generalist, you can lead with one thing and offer others. When you find interesting things, focus on your versatility and the other things that qualify you for that position.
But, if you get leads that you know are not a good fit for you, not part of whatever you envision your new niche or direction to be, how do you turn that work down?
Maybe someone wants you to write their car sales copy and you don’t want to write about cars anymore. You might just say, “I don’t think I’m the right writer for you, but here are X, Y, and Z referrals.” Or you can say, “I’m really booked out, but I’d be happy to help you find another writer.”
Just because you are technically available and the work is in front of you, you don’t have to take it if you don’t want to. It’s okay to turn down work even if the only reason that you’re turning it down is that you don’t want to do it.
If you have more questions, the best way to find me is in my Facebook group, the Inkwell Guild. Look us up on Facebook or go to ashleygainer.com/facebook. Request to join and we’ll be happy to let you in and hang out with you!
If you want to learn more about finding freelance writing clients who are going to pay you well, pay you on time, give you recurring work and make you really, really happy to be a freelance writer, then I have something for you–Client Bound, my new course on how to find freelance writing clients. If that sounds good to you, I recommend that you go to copy chatter.com/clients and check it out.
Since 2010, businesses and entrepreneurs have turned to me for stronger copy, deeper customer relationships, and great blog content.
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Please don’t hesitate to get in touch. I can’t wait to meet you!
Come hang out with us in my Facebook group, The Ink Well Guild! Get your questions answered and find supportive feedback from other freelance writers.