How To Choose Your Freelance Writing Niche
Whether you do features or corporate content (or both), in the competitive world of freelance writing, it’s ideal to develop a niche. Sometimes it’s easy to choose, other times it develops over a few years as your interests and life changes.
But when you have a niche, you can specialise which means you'll work with more selective clients and can charge a higher freelance rate.
So, how do you find it? Let me tell you about my journey...
I started as a parenting writer because I was juggling writing with first-time parenting. Whether I wanted it or not, babies invaded my every sleep deprived thought so I figured, why not write about them too? As well, I’d found some parenting editors who were very nice and responsive to pitches (Australia’s Essential Baby and Essential Kids websites - still a great break for parenting writers).
Then I pushed on into food writing, (which I’d been blogging about for several years), through unpaid articles. This is the only time I wrote for free and only for 2-3 articles. It was for a new food publication, Sprout Magazine (happily they now pay but I’d moved on by then). Then came food, wine and travel writing for other Australian publications, and a few corporate gigs. I also got into social justice opinion stories for SBS News, a hugely popular website that I loved writing for and which really challenged and pushed my writing.
Then, just when I was writing regularly for several great publications and had established some good editorial connections in Australia, I moved to Laos. (As you do. I know). But I decided to see it as an opportunity to build my niche - food and travel writing, and small business entrepreneurialism. I haven’t looked back.
So, here's my top 3 tips to finding your specialised writer's niche...
1. Go with your current life situation
You just need a place to start that’s not too much of a stretch. If, like many women writers, you're home alone with the baby on maternity leave, start with parenting articles. If you're a working in a bar every evening with your days free, pitch stories on new cocktails or restaurants in your area. You don't need to be an expert, just start small and go from there.
2. Write about what you know
If you’re working in finance or HR or law, there’s your niche. Maybe this is the job you’re trying to get away from but it’s also the field you’re knowledgeable about. Use that and pitch features to niche magazines, or apply for content gigs in your field. Industry knowledge is invaluable, particularly these days when feeding the insatiable content beast requires ever more specialised words. Editors and clients love people with industry knowledge.
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3. Pick your passion
This is a fun one because it means you get to write about what you love. Win win. If you’re voraciously reading lifestyle mags, running triathlons, or trying out new bars every weekend, this means you’ve unintentionally also spirited away a lot of insider info about these niche areas. Use that knowledge to pitch a stories to the very publications or websites that you love reading. Passion is a great motivator.
Remember - you've just got to START. Start small. It won't define the rest of your writing career.
Long term goals are great but if you’re broke and working for the man full time, there’s not much point trying to be an international travel writer right now. Change is part of every writer's journey; you'll get to where you want to go, don't doubt that but it doesn't happen overnight.
Are you struggling to find your niche? Where has your writing journey taken you?
About the author: Lilani Goonesena is an Australian freelance writer, Squarespace web designer and blogger currently based in Vientiane, Laos. She loves helping freelancers and small businesses with web design and content, blogging and through her awesome weekly newsletter on digital marketing, social media, blogging, web design and "all that online stuff". She also writes food and travel articles for businesses and magazines, and blogs at the delectable Eat Drink Laos, just for fun.