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Writers Need To Know What They Can Do, What They Can’t & What They Like

writing specialtiesThe other day Lori Widmer, commented (on the 5 Buck Forum) on a type of writing she knew how to do, but didn’t like – as a result she turned down those kinds of writing jobs when offered.

It takes some confidence to turn down paid work, and it is, I think, one of the marks of a true professional freelance writer.

One of the truths about freelance writing is that each writer has their own specialties and expertise. We can’t do it all. And I’m not talking about fiction or non-fiction writing, but the variety of writing various clients may want us to do.

For example, I write pretty good press releases. I’m generally ready to take those on provided they pay enough. I also write darn good technical manuals. In fact I made a decent living writing for software companies and writing third-party software manuals. But I got bored – so bored in fact that if I never have to write “press enter” again that’s just fine with me. So although I’m sometimes tempted, I don’t do tech writing any more.

I’ve never developed what might be called a corporate writing specialty. Some freelancers deal well with financial information and find a writing home there. Others have worked in insurance and moved from a corporate writing job to freelancing in the same industry. Both Lori and our mutual friend Cathy Miller work in that field. John Soares has developed a specialty in writing college textbooks and their supplements. I ghostwrite books for people, usually memoires or business allegories. 

Each of these examples and many more are examples of niche writing.

Recognizing and claiming a niche – I also write about 12 Step Recovery – doesn’t mean we never stray from that topic – far from it. I’m soon going to launch a site about learning to live green and sustainably. And I’m also about ready to launch a video class on book writing.

Writers are, among other things, curious folks and up for a challenge. You may find us trying something new or breaking our own rules about what we won’t write.

The takeaway here is that as a writer develops professionally they notice what they write well, what they don’t and what they don’t want to write – and operate from that self-knowledge.

What’s your take? What kinds of gigs do you turn down? What kind do you like the best?


Image: Attribution Some rights reserved by Steve Snodgrass

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{ 4 comments… add one }
  • Thanks for the shout-out, Anne. I found I really don’t like editing other people’s writing. So, I stopped taking on that gig. My favorite gigs are case studies and marketing brochures.
    Cathy Miller recently posted..3 Off Switches in Business WritingMy Profile

  • I am trying to finish a memoir. I recently took a course in publishing for the Kindle market but commercial writing for a market has no interest for me. I am passionate about sharing the truth I have discovered and verified and mostly that is what I’m about. I’m a good discussion leader too so if I can manage to get my memoir published I look forward to speaking engagements, etc.

    I also do some editing for friends who are working on projects I believe in. I am a good editor too so that has provided a sideline for me, but just a trickle of income.

    Its all good, if you will excuse the cliche’.
    Stan Schultz recently posted..Swanson VitaminsMy Profile

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