“Nobody wants a generalist; everybody wants a specialist.” Does that mean everyone in the freelance writing industry needs to niche down?
Newbie freelance writers often scoff at the idea of limiting themselves to one – or even a few – different subjects. They start their journey into wordsmithery with the misguided notion that they can write about anything if given the opportunity. If someone just gives them the chance, then they’ll deliver curated content about any subject.
The problem with being a generalist within the writing field is that it undercuts your value; you’re throwing yourself in a sea of other generalists. Each of them dipped their toe into each topic and was able to write about “everything.”
Over the past few years, high-quality content has become more important to businesses. As a freelancer, I discovered that businesses aren’t willing to dish out those dollars to a writer that can do a little of everything. What they are looking for is a specialist in a certain field to help them attain greater exposure and ROI and make more of an impact on Google’s algorithm.
Money Money Money
It makes the world go round. Everyone wants it, but very few have enough of it. Everyone wants a fair rate of pay for their efforts, regardless of the job that they do, and being a freelance writer is no different. Narrowing down to a single lane or two will increase your value as a writer.
To put that into perspective—If I had a specific heart problem that required a niche skill set to resolve, I’d rather see a cardiologist instead of a general practitioner. If we cross-reference that idea with salaries, the average cardiologist earns $423,000 a year, according to Medscape Cardiologist Compensation Report, and that’s not including production bonuses and benefits. On average, a GP makes under half of that.
Being a specialist within a particular field makes you the go-to writer. You’re more in demand, your value goes up, and you become a sought-after commodity. This enables you to charge higher rates and establish repeat clients.
Choosing a Niche
Providing long-term health for your writing career and your mental health is equally as important. Try to find a niche that you have existing knowledge of and a background in. Repeatedly writing about a subject that you hate is going to lead to a lack of interest, burnout, and throwing the towel in pretty fast.
The first port of call would be to look over your CV and determine whether you already have lucrative expertise. Did you work in marketing? Were you a lawyer? They’re a good start. If you’re already adept in a particular field, then that’s a huge amount of bonus points to get you on your way to finding a suitable niche to write about.
Another method is to pursue your passion through writing. What makes your heart race and your spine tingle? No, I’m not telling you to write about pizza…unless you want to.
If you’re passionate about fitness or the beauty industry, you can transform that into a high-paying niche and build a portfolio out of something you love.
For best results, when seeking higher pay and larger volumes of work, become an authority by breaking the niche down even further. Sounds pretty difficult, right? It is. This is where all the top writers make the big bucks.
Some of the most lucrative writing niches are:
- Specific fields—topics within your niche that you’ve learned, researched, and experienced. For example, if your niche is science, writing in detail about neuroscience is going to get you a far greater return.
- B2B content—this includes whitepapers, case studies, eBooks, and long-form articles. They involve a degree of technical expertise, but you’ll be rewarded well for your work.
- Email sequences—drip campaigns and direct response copywriting aren’t all sleazy sales talk. This is a low-word, high-return gig.
Becoming a successful freelance writer is a long journey, and the process takes time. Being a generalist may suit your needs early in your career, but to cash in on the big bucks, work with bigger brands and become more in-demand. It’s time to narrow down your niche.
Editors Note: This post was written by nDash community member Anup Sohanta. Anup Sohanta is a full-time freelance writer specializing in marketing, health, financial services, and other topics. To learn more about Anup — or to have him write content for your brand — check out his nDash writer profile.