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The Myth of Needing a Freelance Writing Niche

nicheWhat, exactly, is a niche in freelance writing? Dictionary.com says it’s “a distinct segment of a market.” They also liken at to a calling, or a vocation.

This post is an example of a writer writing in the niche of freelance writing. A bit recursive, but you get the idea.

I’ve also developed a certain expertise in running (back in the day), 12 step recovery, parenting, Buddhism and ecology, real estate sales, and probably a few others I’ve forgotten about.

Every single one of them came about because I was following my on interests. I didn’t set out to specialize in any of them so I could write about it.

Instead, started to run for my health and wrote about it, got sober and wrote about it, had kids and write about it, etc. After awhile it became obvious and natural to write about writing.

A niche can make things easier

When I sit down to write a post for this blog, I already know I’m going to write about the field or topic freelance writing. It’s a pretty broad area and I’ve demonstrated I can stretch it even wider by writing about things that aren’t normally thought of as fitting in this niche.

Editors, marketers and publishers love niches

Editors, marketers and publishers all love niches because it defines what they’re doing. They also love finding writers who have experience in their particular niche. The tighter the topic, the easier their job. If they will only market left handed monkey wrenches they eliminate all the information about anything but. If they can slot you as a writer in their particular topic, they’re set, at least as long as the writer is willing to write for them.

On the other hand, if they think they can only work with a writer who has experience in their niche, they are truly limiting their choices.

You don’t need a special topic to write well

While having a niche or several does mean you’ve developed a certain expertise in that area, that expertise isn’t a guarantee of good writing. To put it the other way, you don’t need specific expertise to write well. This is what editors and publishers often overlook when drafting job requirements.

Don’t fret about a niche – not unless you’re doing something truly specialized. Chances are over time you’ll develop some specialties. It’s okay if that happens organically. Plan and work a niche or several if you want, but don’t stress over them.

Apply even if you aren’t in their niche

If you see a job posted that appeals to you, that doesn’t mean you must have experience in that particular topic to land the gig. Generally, the hiring authority first wants to know that you can write well. That’s why they want samples. They want to read something you’ve written to see, first of all that you can write, and second that your writing voice is close to the style they want. These days we’re seeing more and more requests for native English or native American speakers. What they really mean is they want you to write with what might be called an American accent. If you’ve got these basis covered you’re in good shape.

Most freelance writers are good generalists. Oh they may have a broad level of experience in an area. For example, included in this blogs are topics on sales, copywriting, business, social media, hiring, entrepreneurship and others. I’m qualified to write in any of these areas. If you think about it you’re qualified to write in more niches than perhaps your writing credits demonstrate at the moment.

Take the risk – refuse to be limited to a topic or a single area of expertise.

Do you have a niche? Do you have experience writing outside it? Tell us about it in comments. Or ask a question and I’ll do my best to answer it.

You might also enjoy 9 Tips for Starting a Profitable and Sustainable Freelance Writing Business.

Write well and often,

Anne Wayman, freelance writer

{ 9 comments… add one }
  • I think if you focus on one specific niche, you learn more about it and thus you can write more.

  • Hmm nice article but I don’t fully agree. A niche is important, since without one, it’s easy for your blog or site to begin losing consistency and cohesiveness. A person trying to do write articles about a dozen topics that aren’t related at all to one another is more often than not going to result in a lack of a proper voice. It’ll just look sloppy! What you said about not needing a niche to write well is definitely true. And granted, there are quite a few writers that can get away with a blog with a very broad range of topics. However in the end, I personally believe that having a niche and focusing on it is the best way to go!

    • Well, Yes, Barry, blogs need a theme and having a niche can be helpful for writing in general. My point is not to get stuck worrying about a niche. Fortunately we don’t all have to agree… the differences are interesting. Thanks.

  • I agree with you, Anne, one doesn’t necessarily need a niche as a freelancer.

    Although it definitely helps. Let me explain it from my point of view as someone who’s hired freelancers on Upwork lately.

    If I start a website about a specific subject I’d love for an expert to write on the topic, simply put. That’s why I always choose someone that knows a lot more about the subject in question, although there’s tons of more clients who are happy to hire anyone, no matter if it’s a niche for them.

    Hope you understand!


    • I do, Nabil and if you have a good writer on tap you might want to ask them first and even let them take a swing at it… it’s always a judgement call for sure.

  • very decent article, excellent writing skills. Thanks for sharing

    • I so agree with you Anne, a niche isn’t necessary for good writing! If the writer’s site is based around a certain topic(s) then yep, the niche is important for the site to remain in sync with it’s purpose!

      However for a freelancer with a passion to write, one of the best bits of advice you can give to them is just start writing and enjoy it,
      then everything will start coming together over time naturally!

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