Award-winning writer Kathy Widenhouse has helped hundreds of nonprofits and writers produce successful content and has gained 600K+ views for her writing tutorials. She is the author of 9 books. See more of Kathy’s content here.
Want to know how to find your niche in writing? You’ve been told it’s important to have a niche to succeed as a content writer. But you are uncertain how to go about zeroing in on a writing specialty.
And since specialization is today’s business currency, you want to know how to find a niche where you can thrive. A specialized writing niche lets you develop expertise, save time writing, and yes — make more money. “To keep your incoming flowing, 80% of your assignments should be in areas you have mastered,” says America’s copywriter, Bob Bly. “And no more than 20% in niches that are new for you.”
Yet the prospect of identifying a freelance writing niche can seem overwhelming, especially if you’re not confident in your writing skills just yet.
You see articles titled, “The most lucrative niches this year” or “Choose one of these high-profit freelance writing niches” — and the lists inside those articles make you nervous. Gurus tell you to shoot for one of the big industry niches that offer high-paying checks to freelance writers, like finance, healthcare, technology, or entertainment. You may feel pressure to pursue one of those specialties because “that’s where the money is.”
The problem is that you may know very little about the industries in those lists or have little interest in any of them. If you choose another specialty in a less-trafficked area, what if you cannot find work? Or what if you’re convinced you don’t know enough about any topic … and there’s no special niche for your freelance writing skills anywhere on the internet?
The truth is that every industry needs content. Further, you know more than you think. If you want to know how to find your niche, you need to start somewhere. Start with this writing niche quiz.
This simple writing niche quiz has just three questions. Take your time in answering them and be honest. You can even take the quiz over the course of a few days in order to be thorough.
Your responses will give you a pool of information you can use to whittle down a writing specialty that’s right for you … one that can even mean you eventually become a “Go To” content writer in that niche.
Start by making a list of your knowledge and skills. And before you say, “I don’t have any,” think again. If you’ve raised four children, you’re good at changing diapers and managing chaos. If you work as an assistant manager at a convenience store, you’re good at interacting with people, knowing safety procedures, arranging schedules, and understanding the products that people buy when they’re in a hurry.
Note that this question in the writing niche quiz doesn’t ask what interests you. (That’s coming.) It asks what you know or what you can do.
You don’t need to be an expert to have an ability in a particular subject. You simply need to have some knowledge about the topic. You may have the ability to can tomatoes … choose a stock portfolio … play golf (even if it’s poorly) … run a middle school carpool … decorate a car for Trunk or Treat. If you’ve done it — no matter how extensively or minimally — put it on your list.
What are your passions? They may or may not line up with your knowledge and skills. For now, just brainstorm and write them down.
Here’s where many a new writer takes a wrong turn right out the gate by thinking you must write for big industry to “make it.” Your eyes cross thinking you should be interested in cryptocurrency, the tax code, and emerging markets. But deep down those topics bore you to tears. What you really love is DIY home repair projects, like fixing the bathroom showerhead that drips.
Guess what? You’ve identified an interest. And you’re looking at TWO niches: DIY and finance.
DIY you get. But finance? Yep. Teach readers to fix their dripping showerheads and you teach them to save money.
Instead of looking at the industries to write for, look at your passions. What’s fun or interesting for you? Know this: if it intrigues you, then you can be certain it’s interesting to someone else … someone who may need a writer to produce content.
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This third step of the “how to find your niche” isn’t nearly as scary for non-marketers as it seems. The information explosion means that biz owners and online publishers in all niches need a continuous stream of content. Your job here is to connect the dots between your abilities and interests … and the businesses and publishers who work in that space.
The process requires a bit of processing and a bit of detective work. First, look at the two lists you’ve created: your abilities and your interests. Do they intersect anywhere? Do a couple of those topics pop out to you as subjects you are willing to write about — a lot? Sift through what you’ve gathered so far and take notes.
Study the topics you’ve identified. Then go online and search for content on that topic — content that’s already out there on Amazon, in blogs and information sites, and in retail sites. Make a list of resources in that field. Note the main providers.
Go back to our shower head example. Let’s assume that you decide you’d like to pursue getting freelance writing assignments for the DIY industry and the finance/frugal living industry. Assemble keywords like DIY, home repair, hand tools, fix it, frugal living, minimalism, homesteading, thrift, or money-saving hacks. Ask yourself …
If your interest is highly specific, then take a step back and look at the big picture. Say your passion is red-bellied snakes that live in Maine. As you dig around, you find no books on Amazon on that subject and very little online content about your topic. Conclusion: “red-bellied snakes that live in Maine” is probably not a great writing niche because there’s not a big demand for content about that specific topic.
But don’t give up. Are you willing to learn about all New England snakes — not just red-bellied ones? Or nonpoisonous snakes? Or snakes as pets? Or unusual pets? Or pet care for singles? Then you may have found a niche and can style yourself as a content writing specialist for the exotic pet industry. Get yourself a clip or two on the Snakes as Pets blog and you’re off and running.
Maybe you’ve started your freelance journey by writing articles for anything and anyone. In the process, you’ve accumulated clips and you’ve also discovered enjoy working in the environmental space. Or perhaps you like commenting on historical fantasy novels … computer code needed for video games … the best leaf blower machines…
Any niche can become a “good niche.” That’s where the results of your writing niche quiz are useful. Choose a handful of topics you’re good at or with which you have experience or in which you’re interested … and find the markets that surround them. “I tell my Writeto1K students to pick three niches,” says freelancer Elna Cain. “And see which one pans out.”
When you set out how to find your niche, you may be focused on yourself and “fitting in.” But in the process, you’ll discover that your abilities and your interests meet a demand. The writing quiz summarizes a simple acronym that explains it best: A-I-D.
By finding a niche, you aid those that need your skills. You have a boatload of fun in the process. And if you stick with it, you can earn a good income by becoming a content writing specialist in your favorite niche.
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