To Niche or not to Niche – One Freelancers Journey

As I embarked on the journey of a career as a full time freelance writer, I was not sure I should choose a niche as there are compelling reasons for both options. So, I thought I would share my background and information for each path. Like many other freelancers, we share this dilemma and sometimes we never really settle on an answer. Every assignment is different and can leak over borders.

It was obvious to me that writing about technology was my niche, but I had to give a lot of thought to choosing to be a generalist rather than focus exclusively on the world of technology providers and applications.

I have a long and varied professional writing career that covered an assortment of industries. To me it seemed that I could bring that value to a multitude of clients. I’m also a professional researcher and have taught Internet research skills.

One of my clients represents many customers with a variety of products and services. Every assignment took me to a new world.
Daily Writing Tips suggests that generalization keeps a writer from getting bored:

“Once a few writing gigs have been successfully completed, a new writer’s portfolio can quickly grow, and when the chance for higher paying gigs or the option of specialization present themselves, the writer will have a healthy clippings folder from which to choose from in order to boost their chances at bagging their next big gig.”

On the other hand, there are several freelance professionals I highly respect and have arguments for specializing:
Carol Tice, founder of Make a Living Writing, has some very good advice regarding choosing or not to choose a specific niche.
“Assignments get easier and easier to do, as you learn where the good sources and statistics are for that niche topic,” according to Carol.

As a member of Carol’s “Freelance Writers Den,” I’ve learned a lot from Carol about the business of being a professional freelancer. For one thing on any given day, “you will never discover your freelance writing niche by “endlessly pondering what topic you should choose as your specialty area.”

In other words, make a decision and go for it.

Another writing professional I admire, Linda Formichelli, author and writing coach, advises also picking a subject you know well, and in addition, you may also want to pick a specific format to specialize in: For example:
Case studies.
White papers.
Magazine articles.
Web copy.
Direct mail sales letters.

According to Linda, “If you focus on, say, case studies, chances are you’ll get to know a lot more about this type of writing than a generalist who writes case studies along with brochures, blog posts, articles, and everything else.”

Linda says that even if you begin as a generalist, eventually your writing may narrow down as new clients see an article and approach you in the same field.

“You’re writing about everything under the sun, you’ll eventually find yourself falling into niches as you develop expertise in different topics and learn what you enjoy writing most,” says Linda.

My niche

My tech expertise included being the editor of two technology magazines for Philips Publishing and over seven years as a technology research director for the global company, Gartner. I covered several areas of tech during my time there: Electronic commerce, electronic data interchange (EDI), logistics, shipping, oil and gas and service providers.

Writing about technology is my comfort zone, so to speak. It is a subject area I’m confident in providing a very high level of service for post content. While I still enjoy other areas of interest, it is in my niche that I bring in a deep background of expertise.

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