Where My Niches At?
If you’re interested in pursuing a career as a freelance writer, you’re going to hear over and over that you absolutely, positively must have a niche if you’re going to have any modicum of success.
“You won’t get hired if you’re a generalist.”
“You won’t be considered professional if you don’t have a niche.”
“You need to be an expert in a field if you want to make a living.”
When I first looked into freelance writing as a career option, I was overwhelmed by the information available. I read website after website and each gave the same warning:
Pick a niche! Don’t do anything until you have your niche! You are nothing without your beloved niche!
Apparently, the best niches are those where your knowledge and interests intersect with profitability. (Some of the most profitable markets being healthcare, business, finance, and tech.)
Then once you’ve narrowed down your niche, you’re supposed to become an expert in that field. You want to be the go-to person. The One Who Knows. Someone who can write a blog/case statement/web copy on the specific topic quickly.
In learning this, I felt defeated. I spent weeks brainstorming, making lists, and trying to figure out that sweet spot between my experience, my passion, and the paying market.
I read blogs and downloaded e-books and took “free” courses (which typically turned out to be sales pitches for paid classes), each of which promised to help me find the just-right niche but instead left me feeling more confused.
Eventually I came up with a few ideas, but none of them excited me. I wanted to leave a job I didn’t enjoy in order to write from home, but why bother doing that if what I’d be writing about was boring as hell?
I Got 99 Problems But a Niche Ain’t One
Somewhere along the way, I stumbled upon Medium. I read an article on the site and while there, noticed I could submit my own work.
I could write what I wanted and *gasp* get paid!
No. Niche. Required.
People were writing about all kinds of things, from relationships to sex to productivity to mental health to parenting. Some, like Tom Kuegler, were writing about primarily about one specific topic (in his case, blogging), while others, like Shannon Ashley, were writing about, well, everything.
And the posts were great!
I can do this, I thought. I can write, from home, with no boss, without a niche
That’s when I decided to stick it to the (freelancing) man. I decided to go rogue. No niche for me. I’m gonna do my own thang.
My first post was ridiculous. It was really just a challenge to myself to hit publish. But then I began to write in earnest. And over time, I’ve come to find my pieces organically fit into one of five areas: writing/publishing, books/reading, life lessons, parenting, and migraine headaches.
Sure, maybe I’d be making more money if I wrote B2B marketing blogs for the dental industry, but I’d also be bored to tears and miserable.
Smack My Niche Up
My advice to anyone who is relatively new to the freelance writing game: don’t let finding a niche stop you from getting work.
I spent months stressing so hard over the niche question that I didn’t write. I was so worried about doing things the “right” way that I didn’t do anything at all.
Here’s the thing, though: while I was doing all that research and brainstorming, I could have been writing. Working on my craft. Making connections and building relationships. And most importantly, MAKING MONEY.
Don’t let a little niche get in the way of you and your freelance writing dreams. Just start writing — publish on Medium or LinkedIn or launch your own website. (Or do all three!) Over time, you’ll find what interests you. You’ll develop your voice. And you’ll gain followers in the process.
Maybe someday you’ll use your abilities to write copy for business and become an expert in a specific field. But in the meantime, disregard the notion that a niche is a must-have for a writing career.
Just get writing. Niches be damned.