Hi Anne, can you help me decide on a writing niche?
I have been doing all sorts of writing, and know that I enjoy some more than others.
I think I have read every article on niche-finding there is, but am still confused.
I know they say that money follows you if you follow your passion, but… what if I’m not sure myself?
Taken from an anonymous survey.
Hi, I’m glad you asked,
I’m going to suggest that it’s folly to decide on a writing niche except in the most general way. And even that may be suspect. Although I’m sure there are writers out there who decided right from the beginning to write a particular type of novel or to do marketing writing for non-profits, etc. and have made it stick, I’m also sure many more have stumbled into their niches. Not only that, most of us find, over time, our niches change.
For example, I didn’t intend to write about writing. At least not until I did. It happened more or less this way.
I had just moved back to San Diego from the San Francisco Bay area where I’d done a bunch of writing for dotcoms and internet companies. I was reading a magazine I can no longer find and Durant Imboden wrote something about what was then called Miningco.com. They wanted someone to develop a site about San Diego, I applied, and they hired me. That job morphed over time to my becoming the guide to freelance writing at about.com, a gig held down well by Allena Tapia.
Then, as usual, I was following the directive we see so often: write what you know!
I’d stumbled into writing about running back when I was jogging. I began writing about 12 step recovery, a niche you’ll still find me in, as I sobered up, and about parenting when my kids were young, etc. etc. etc.
I did what you say you’re doing, “…doing all sorts of writing, and know that I enjoy some more than others.” I wrote about what I knew, and what I liked. In that sense I followed my passion.
Work the niche that finds you
But I did one other thing. When I found I could sell in a particular topic or niche that I liked, I worked it. Once I sold one newbie type article to a computer magazine, I queried others. As my computer knowledge grew I was able to write more technical articles which paid better. Eventually I landed a tech writing job inside. They also published a magazine and after about 6 months I moved to that department. That led, after some time, to magazine editing.
On the other hand, there are lucrative areas where I seem to have at least some talent that I haven’t perused much.
Profitable niche’s I didn’t pursue
For example, I’m a more than decent copywriter, but writing to sell stuff bores me so I don’t do it often. It turns out I’m also good at tech writing, but after awhile I get cross eyed with the details.
As I look back, there’s absolutely no way I could have planned going from running to blogging. Or from recovery to ghostwriting. Or from writing articles to editing magazines.
And you’re not the only one who gets confused!
Over at WhenGrandmotherSpeaks.com I’m trying to articulate my own sense of what today I might call sustainability, spirituality, and mindfulness. That isn’t it, but I’m called to write in that arena, whatever it is, and so I do. No clue yet how or if it will earn any money. I now have enough self-confidence to try something like this without any clue if it will work or not.
I’ve mostly followed my bliss, as they say, and enough money has followed me to make a nice life.
You can, most likely, do the same thing.
What’s been your experience with niches?
Do you have a question about freelance writing? Contact me with Q&A in the subject line and I’ll do my best to answer it for you.