Besides failure, the number one fear that a lot of writers face is choosing the wrong freelance writing niche.
(And this ties into the whole fear of failing thing really, doesn’t it?)
Niching down (aka what you want to get paid to write about), choosing a specialization (or service, like freelance writing) and positioning (what you do and who you do it for) are all really closely related. You’re ultimately deciding to focus on a specific industry, topic or audience.
And sure you can “get it wrong.”
But what does that really mean? Today, I’m here to argue that choosing the wrong freelance writing niche is a bit of a fallacy. Rather than derailing your freelance writing career, choosing the wrong niche can be just a learning experience – an offshoot on your overall journey of building a successful writing business.
So sit back, relax and ponder the four questions below and my response to each. I’m about to enlighten y’all – buckle up! 😉
1. What if I choose a freelance writing niche and can’t find any work?
Honestly, this is what I think that most people mean when they’re worried about whether or not they might choose the wrong niche.
They’re really worried that they won’t find any clients or opportunities. And that they’ll fail. (See how fear of failure is at the root of it?)
Or that they won’t actually be any good in that niche, because they lack experience. Same difference, right?
I get these concerns, I really do. But what I don’t get is how it completely paralyzes people from taking action. It’s that whole case of “if you don’t try, you automatically fail.”
Your possible outcomes are basically:
- Automatic failure by not trying.
- Possible failure by trying.
- Possible success by trying.
I know which one I’d go after!
My solution for this “problem” is to put yourself out there and try anyway. Instead of focusing on “what’s the worst that can happen?” focus instead on “what’s the best possible outcome that you can produce?”
Why not YOU? Why not NOW?
2. What if I’m successful, but hate it?
This is less troubling, but it’s still a real concern for many.
In fact, I just had this conversation with someone recently. When he reviewed his most successful projects, banking institutions topped his list.
But working with banks didn’t feed his soul. It was the work that he completed for one institution in particular that really revved his engine and made that particular business way more profitable and efficient.
A process that could be replicated for other banks OR other industries. I.e. It wasn’t the field that made the project, it was the process and results he was able to get them that got his heart pumping!
Since banking institutions didn’t get him excited overall, I asked him what did.
He replied that he likes to play tennis and had thought about honing in on tennis pros, but didn’t believe there was really a market for that.
I asked him why not branch out to sporting goods stores instead – kind of a happy medium, if you will.
He replied he’d never thought of that. But watching his face and body language, I could see that the idea excited him. And all it took was a conversation and viewing his business through another lens.
I use this example, because this particular freelancer (a web developer, not a writer, but this conversation covers all freelancers really) could go after banks and be very successful. But he’d probably end up hating it. So we brainstormed and took what he liked about that bank project and applied it to an medium he was more passionate about.
If you find yourself in a niche that you hate, it’s not the end of the world. Especially if it pays well! What you should do is start pivoting to a niche (or two) that you think would be a better fit and experiment on the side of your primary money maker to see if it’s a viable option.
Don’t completely shift gears until you know for sure, but rather take your time and treat it almost like a side hustle or new business. It may mean you work a bit harder or longer in the beginning, but it’s a much smarter transition than up and leaving your current bread and butter for something you’re not sure will work out.
3. Why do I have to start with just one writing niche?
Short answer – you don’t!
The popular advice is that you should start with just one and the main rationale behind it, is that it’s easier to make progress when focusing on one thing, rather than many. And that makes a ton of sense, right?
But if you wanted to try two or three freelance writing niches at the same time, you totally could. List all three on your hire me page or if they’re completely unrelated, put up a landing page specific to each audience and market as hard as you can to send traffic there. See which one is more profitable or which one you like more. Then you get to double down baby!
My best advice when it comes to choosing a niche is to give yourself 3-6 months to see if it’s viable. Less than that and you won’t give it enough time to gain traction. Too much longer and you might be shooting yourself in the foot (unless you’re seeing positive feedback/small results that encourage you to keep going).
4. I know I chose the wrong freelance writing niche, but how do I change my mind?
You decide on a new niche and try it out.
Easy peasy, right? Maybe. It depends whether you have any idea of what niche to pivot to or not.
This post isn’t intended to help you uncover your top niche(s), but rather what to do if you chose the wrong one. Hopefully, you already have a list of your top 3-5 niches based on your previous career, hobbies, etc. If you don’t, you’ll want to make figuring this out your top priority.
There are SO many niches to choose from, if you take the time to do some research or brainstorming. We did, and came up with over 200 niches!
If you’re an established freelance writer – but a generalist – a great way to figure out your top freelance writing niches (in addition to the list above) is to dig into your past client experiences.
Ask yourself these three questions:
- Which projects paid the best?
- Which were the easiest to come across?
- Which were the most enjoyable projects and why?
Answering these questions should help you hone in on one or two pretty quickly.
But back to changing your mind. If you double down on a particular niche and then change your mind for whatever reason (lack of success, lack of interest, etc.), revisit the section above on what to do if you hate the one you chose. Start experimenting with a new niche or two on the side of what is working.
It’s kind of like starting a freelance writing side hustle in the first place. My mom always taught me not to quit a job until I had another one lined up (great advice!). That’s why I built my freelance writing business on the side of my full-time job (and I’m the breadwinner, so up and quitting would have been a DISASTER!).
In essence, it all comes down to “proof of concept.” You need to make sure the new niche is viable before leaving one that’s working, but not a great fit for you anymore.
Choosing the wrong freelance writing niche really isn’t that big of a deal.
And it doesn’t mean you’ve failed. (Failure is honestly such an ugly word and we should really banish it from our vocabulary.) It just means that it’s not for you.
But a different freelance writing niche will be. You just have to find it!
So don’t let the fear of not being able to find work, that you might end up hating the freelance writing niche you choose, thinking that you can only have one or worrying about what if you change your mind stop you from niching down.
Clients want to hire a specialist – someone who focuses on one freelance writing niche and can deliver results – rather than a generalist that can “write about anything.”
You WILL be more successful niching down than not. That’s the brass tax of the situation.
Which of the above excuses/fears/questions resonated with you the most any why?