How Do I Pick A Freelance Writing Niche?

In today’s post, we’re answering another reader question: How can I pick a niche for my writing? This is a question we got from a reader this week, and it’s actually a question we’ve been getting more and more lately. 

Hey CWWU!

I want to be a freelance writer, but I have no idea which freelance writing niche should I choose and how to start this as a business. I’m a good writer, but I want to earn money with my writing. Can you please help me with this?

–B

Before we dig into the answer, let’s pose another question: Do you even need a niche as a writer? The answer isn’t always a clear-cut yes.

Many writers cover a variety of different topics, from travel to money to fashion and everything in between. And those writers don’t always start out with a specific niche in mind. They just start writing about topics that interest them, and a niche develops organically. And then they might start writing about something else — some of their readers may know them for covering fashion, and others might know them for covering entertainment. And if you’re a money writer with a travel pitch, chances are, an editor will care less about the freelance writing niche you’re known for and more about whether or not your idea is a good one. In other words, it’s not as hard to break out of a niche as you might think.

As a writer, you might find it helpful to pick a freelance writing niche, but it doesn’t mean you have to stick to it for life. If you have a good idea for a story, that story can go viral or get picked up by an editor or gain some other traction if it’s a compelling enough idea.

The case for picking a freelance writing niche

That said, it can be incredibly helpful to pick a freelance writing niche when you’re just starting out as a freelance writer. There are a few reasons why:

  • It limits the competition, making it easier for editors and companies to find you. If your website simply says you’re a “freelance writer” it might be harder to find you in a sea of freelance writers than it is in a pool of, say, travel copywriters in Cleveland. Give your writing a specialty, and you narrow down the competition.
  • It helps you focus. When you’re just starting out as a professional writer, it can be overwhelming to figure out exactly what you should write about. Travel reviews? Food? Productivity advice? There are so many possibilities! And that’s a good thing, but as a new writer who doesn’t know where to start, this can lead to decision paralysis.
  • It’s strategic. You also need a strategy for getting work. Focusing on a specific niche can help you do just that. You’ll narrow down your search for gigs, and instead of just sending a blast of random pitches to random editors, you can focus your efforts on a specific topic and specific publications.
  • It’s good for SEO: When you write a lot about a particular topic, whether it’s on your own blog or for other publications, it helps with search engine optimization or SEO. This basically means there’s a better chance your blog will show up when people search for that particular topic on Google. If you write about family travel, and you write about it often, Google will begin to see you as an authority on this topic. Eventually, when people search for tips on traveling with their unruly kids, your posts will start to show up (especially if you use other SEO tactics).

In short, a freelance writing niche is great for branding yourself as a writer, strategizing your income goals, and focusing your efforts. We do see a lot of writers take the “pick a niche” advice too far — never let your niche hold you back from trying other types of writing or writing about other topics. Think of picking your freelance writing niche as a tool, not an end goal.

Ask yourself some questions & play around a bit

If you’re just starting out, perhaps the most important thing you can do in picking your niche is to spend some time playing around. You don’t decide on your niche as much as you find it through your writing. If you haven’t already, that means establishing a regular writing practice. Once you start writing regularly, ask yourself a few questions when it comes to picking a freelance writing niche:

  • What kind of topics do you enjoy writing about?
  • What kind of topics are you good at writing about?
  • Are any of these topics in high demand?
You could even create a Venn Diagram of all three and see if there’s any overlap. The ideal is to write something you enjoy that you’re also good at and that’s also in high demand. How do you know what topics are in high demand? Do a little Google Trend search to see what kind of subjects people are searching for and curious about. Think about what’s happening in pop culture or recent news lately. Search freelance writing job boards to see what publications or companies are looking for.
Again, it’s important to try your hand (no pun intended) at different types of writing to see what you’re interested in. If you don’t have a niche at first or it takes you a while to find it, that’s okay! Take your time and see how your writing evolves. Start applying to small writing gigs here and there and see if there are any topics you enjoy. Start a blog and see how you like it. Most importantly, keep writing 🙂 The more you write, the more clear the above answers will become.

Find a throughline

Beyond your niche, you also want to think about your theme. What’s the difference between a niche and a theme? Think of it this way: Your niche covers what you’ll write about; your theme covers what you have to say. Having a clear theme, or throughline for your content can help you stay focused when you’re writing.

A theme gives your blog clarity, which helps retain readers and tell potential clients what you’re all about. If you’re writing about dealing with depression while you’re in debt, your theme likely has something to do with financial empowerment. If you’re writing a travel blog about all the places in popular books, your theme probably has something to do with exploration and adventure. If you’re not sure of your theme, try to find a common thread in the topics you want to write about. For example, if you want to write about photography and interior design, your theme might be about design.

Whatever niche you choose, take a moment to think about your overall theme.

Combine your interests

Once you know your general topic, it’s best to niche down and pick a subject that’s more specific. This way, there’s less competition, and you have a better chance of standing out with a targeted audience. For example, if you want to write about travel, you might niche down and start a blog on the digital nomad lifestyle. Or get really niche with it and start a blog on how to stay fit and healthy when you’re a digital nomad.

Here’s another way to get specific with your niche: Take two of your interests, then find a way to link them. For example:

Travel + Books = A book review blog about the books you’re reading when you travel.

Personal finance + Fashion = Write about personal finance for people who like nice things.

Video games + Fitness = A fitness blog, gamified.

Think of your niche as fluid, not fixed

We’ve said it before, but we’ll say it again: A niche is not forever! Don’t let it keep you from exploring other topics or thinking you can’t write essays or fiction or any other type of writing.

To that end, it can be helpful to think of your niche as fluid — that is, something that is constantly changing. As a writer, you will grow and evolve and get tired of writing about certain topics and become passionate about other topics. Your niche should also be ever-evolving. It should be something you find, rather than something you do and stick to religiously. As your own interests change, it’s okay if your niche does, too.

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