If you’ve recently made the decision to become a freelance writer, you’ve probably agonized over what niche you should choose to become successful. The Internet keeps telling you YOU MUST NICHE DOWN if you ever want to make real money.
So you’ve been digging around online trying to crack this niche thing until your head is spinning with information overload and indecision. You feel completely paralyzed. The articles tell you to…
- Make a list of topics you’re good at.
- Examine a list of topical niches that are profitable.
- List topics that overlap with your professional background or your hobbyist background.
- Examine the freelance writer competition.
All so you can choose your niche.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. You could do all that.
Or you could stop letting this whole niche thing get in the way of actually taking on writing gigs.
You can stop overthinking everything and being paralyzed by ideas – and just get started making money with your writing.
I’m not saying niching down is a bad idea. I think you should do it eventually, just not yet. Hey, if it’s blatantly obvious to you that you should be writing about digital marketing or elephants in Cambodia then do it and do it now.
But chances are if you’re reading this article, elephants in Cambodia are not your thing and you just don’t know what is.
That is cool and normal. I say: don’t worry about it. Don’t choose a niche yet.
Pick a Freelance Writer Niche: Know Your Stylistic Options Too
The majority of the Internet not only wants you to believe you can’t progress in your freelance business without a niche, but also that your niche needs to be topical.
- Real estate
- Weight loss
But you should also be considering stylistic niches.
By that I mean are you going to be the master of blog posts? Do you kill it at website content? Are you a Facebook ads fiend?
If you can nail a certain writing style/type then you’ll probably be able to take on any topic. This means you’re a strategy expert and that’s a very valuable thing to be.
Let’s take a deeper dive into your stylistic options as a freelance writer. I’ve made a little mind map of the types of online writing you can get paid to do (it’s not an exhaustive list but I tried to cover the main ones):
Blogging – You can specialize in blogging, either with or without a byline. You’ll need to master SEO to hang.
Sales writing – You’ll need to master the art and science of persuasion writing if you want to be a copywriter. Direct response copy is going to be your landing pages, your emails, your Facebook ads – writing these can produce measurable results and ROI. I’ll tell you right now: direct response copywriting is where you can make the most $$ as a freelance writer (IF YOU’RE GOOD AT IT). Why? Because you can start asking for royalties or a percentage of ROI. VSL people and Facebook ad people are in pretty high demand from what I’ve seen.
Websites – You could specialize in web content and work with a digital marketing team or web designer wanting to outsource their writing work. Podcasts are pretty big – you could work in strategy/content here or doing the podcast summaries people (especially entrepreneurs) post on their sites.
For more ideas on your stylistic writing options, check out
- The 30 Types of Freelance Writing Jobs and How to Get Them from FreelanceWritingGigs.com and
- The second half of The Definitive Guide to Choosing Your Freelance Writing Niche from Have a Word
Note that these guys are looking for an expert in a certain writing type (and not necessarily topic):
Your Niche Will Find You
Know your options – stylistic and topical – but don’t pick a niche yet.
How could you possibly know what you love to write about, what you’re great at writing about, and what pays well if you have never written for clients before?
When I first started out, I assumed my niche would be health because I have a related graduate degree and a few years of experience in public health.
As it turned out, I hated the type of work available in the health niche. I’m not a practitioner so I don’t know medical terminology and all the public health organizations have in-house writers and don’t care that much about their writing and web content because they’re not-for-profit; they don’t give a shit about persuading anyone of anything.
So then I wasted a ton of brain energy and time stressing about what my topical niche should be. I made lists and Venn diagrams and strategized…
I think I even tried to cold email some people saying my niche was this or that. It wasn’t working, because I wasn’t confident or sure about what I was doing.
Finally, I was like “I’ll just try a bunch of stuff and see what I like”. I opened myself up to different possibilities. I did emails, a video sales letter, Facebook ads, and more. For topics ranging from personal development to construction, to children’s books. And yes, these were all paid jobs. (And you can get them too!)
Turns out, I love writing blogs and web content for startups that have a social impact. I wouldn’t have known this without experimenting though.
This isn’t really an unpopular opinion
Just to prove to you that I’m not the only one with the advice to forego a niche in the beginning of your freelance writing career, here are some comments from a Facebook group I’m in on the freelance writer niche debate. These guys have WAY more experience in freelance writing than me. Like years and years.
See? It’s not an unpopular opinion – or practice – to start out niche-less.
So let go of the freelance writer niche thing for now.
Focus on writing excellent portfolio pieces and looking for clients first. Try out different topical and stylistic niches.
And as they say, your niche will find you.