The other day, I was hanging out in a Facebook group for freelance writers, and I saw something that really bothered me:
“I have been thinking about choosing finance writing as my niche, but I only have 2 years of experience as a financial advisor! I don’t think I’m enough of an expert to specialize in it yet.”
I’m not going to sugarcoat it. My first thought was:
What. The. Fuck.
Not in a mean way — I was just surprised! My second thought was a little bit nicer:
This chick has more valuable expertise in the finance industry than tons of successful freelance writers have in their niche of choice. How can I help writers like her become more confident and understand that they don’t have to have 20 billion years of experience in something to make it their niche?
And that, my friend, is how this blog post came to be. 🙂
Today, I’m going to talk about how you can pick a profitable niche based on the experience/knowledge you already have. That way, you can stand out as an expert to clients and start rakin’ in the cash!
Oh, and if you want to watch the video version of this post, you can do that right here:
(But even if you watch the video, I encourage you to keep reading too – I’ve got a lot of info in this post to really help you get clear on the right niche for you.)
First, why is defining a freelance writing niche so important?
Imagine you own a law firm for a second. You’re looking for a writer who can create in-depth blog posts for your site because you want to attract more traffic and win more business.
You come across 3 interesting freelance writer websites. Here are the headlines on their sites:
— “I’m a freelance writer who specializes in writing content for businesses.”
— “I’m a freelance writer who specializes in writing for law firms.”
— “I’m a freelance writer who specializes in writing in-depth blog posts that help law firms attract more traffic and business.”
Which of these 3 writers do you want to work with the most?
Obviously, the last one. Not only do they specialize in the exact type of content you need — they position themselves as someone who can help you get the business results you want.
Your high-paying potential clients are no different. They don’t want a generalist who might be able to give them what they want. They want an expert who can use words to help them get traffic, new leads, or whatever other results they’re looking for.
What makes a good freelance writing niche?
When you’re picking a niche, consider these 3 things:
— It should be something you’re knowledgeable about OR are willing to learn a lot about.
— It should be something you’re interested in and/or enjoy writing about.
I even made this nifty little graphic to make it easier for you (AW SNAP).
How can you use your experience to pick a freelance writing niche?
Before I became a freelance writer, I worked full-time as a copywriter at a marketing agency that specialized in handling B2B/tech clients.
So, it’s easy to understand why I was able to specialize in B2B/tech content at the start of my freelance career.
But how do you think I landed my full-time copywriting job with hardly any freelance writing experience?
Simple. In the job interview, I demonstrated my writing/sales abilities and:
— Mentioned the fact that my dad was a computer programmer and talked about how he instilled a passion for technology in me at an early age
— Talked about my time working in technical support for a large cable company (let’s call it what it really was though — a shitty call center job)
— Explained my knowledge of HTML and CSS and talked about the technology-related classes (like computer science!) I took in college (I was a dropout, by the way, so you definitely don’t need a degree in your niche!)
Now, none of these things directly qualified me for a B2B/Tech copywriting job. But showing that I was capable of learning quickly and that I was passionate about technology made me stand out as a good choice.
(It’s important to note here that you shouldn’t ever approach marketing yourself like you’d approach a job interview. My example is just to show you how you can use your experience to confidently define a niche — not to show you what you should put on your site or tell clients.)
Hell, I even used the fact that my mom is a teacher to land an EdTech freelance writing job once!
If I can do that, you can definitely use something about your life to define a profitable freelance writing niche.
Let’s talk about another example.
Yesterday, a writer named Ronan reached out to me on Twitter after I asked what topic I should write a blog post about. Here’s how our conversation went:
Now, I don’t know much about actuaries, but I do know that specializing in content marketing for insurance companies could be profitable. Just look at what popped up when I serached for info on Google about the niche:
Now, you might be thinking:
Content marketing for insurance companies? Something like that sounds like too narrow of a niche — I don’t want to miss out on clients because I specialized too much!
Let me assure you:
Narrow niches WORK because they position you as an industry expert to your target audience. Trust me — my niche when I started out was just as weird/narrow (Content marketing for IT service providers), but I can guarantee you that I wouldn’t have been able to grow a profitable freelance writing business so quickly if I hadn’t picked that specific of a niche.
Remember, you don’t need expertise in your niche — you just need to be willing to learn.
For example, one of my niches is writing blog posts about real estate and property management, and I didn’t know shit about either of those topics until I started researching, learning, writing about them regularly.
The point is this:
Stop holding yourself back because you think you aren’t good enough.
You don’t need a Master’s degree in finance to write about finance. And you don’t need a marketing degree to write about marketing.
If you can deliver the quality and information your clients are looking for, that’s all that matters.
After you pick your niche, market yourself as a niche writer (not a generalist!).
Understand that defining a niche doesn’t matter if you fail to market yourself to your target clients as a niche specialist.
I see lots of freelance writer websites where the writer has a vague headline about their services. They only mention their niche somewhere below that, in a place that’s much less noticeable to clients.
When a client visits your site, this should be their first thought:
Whoa, it’s clear that this writer can give me EXACTLY what I need. I’m ready to hire them.
And clients won’t think that if you write your website content in a way that fails to draw attention to your niche.
So, put your niche in your freelance writer website headline. Make sure your target clients can identify you as an expert the second they land on your site.
Wanna see an example?
I just re-designed my site, and here’s what I use for my home page headline:
You can see how this makes people who need in-depth blog posts about B2B/marketing topics immediately realize that I’m a good choice for them.
And guess what?
I still get requests from people who want other stuff (website copy, case studies, etc) done all the time!
So you don’t have to worry about going too niche in your headline — if you write strong copy on your freelance writer website, you’ll still get clients from other industries reaching out to you!
Still not convinced that you should define a narrow niche and put it in your headline?
Think about it like this. When you have one narrow niche, you can tailor all of the content on your freelance writer website to that specific target audience. That means all of your testimonials, sales copy, and other elements on your site can be strategically used to make a specific type of client want to work with you.
And that, my friend, translates to a much more effective freelance writer website.
But your website isn’t the only place you should clearly define your niche. Plaster that shit all over the place. For example, put it in:
— Your Twitter Bio
— Your LinkedIn headline, summary, and job description
— Your email signature
Basically, anywhere your target client might find you/your information, you should have your niche clearly defined there too.
Why am I saying all of this so confidently?
Because defining a narrow niche at the start of my freelance writing career allowed me to make $5K+/mo within four months.
If I had marketed myself as a general freelance writer, I wouldn’t have stood out as much and wouldn’t have been able to land those first few clients that helped my get my business off the ground.
Wondering which freelance writing niches are profitable and how you can break into them?
You’re in luck, friend. I made this free resource just for you:
So check it out, pick a niche, and start using the marketing tips in this post.
Seriously — start today! And if you’re feeling hesitant, always remember that even the most successful freelance writers had to start somewhere.
What’s most important is that you take action. Know that you DO have the power to build a profitable freelance writing business.
Got any questions about defining a freelance writing niche? Throw ’em down in the comments section!