I’m following several experts in the writing industry and I keep hearing this one, dreadful expert advice: find a niche.
Finding “a” anything has always been difficult for me. I’m interested in pretty much everything, and I catch on to most things quickly.
But clients, especially high-profit industries, want experts in their industry. (What most non-writers don’t understand is a good writer only needs to be an expert in writing, and they can write for anyone.)
But in order to get experience, you need to get work. And in order to get work, you must have experience.
Ugh! Ok. Fine. I’ll find my niche.
I have several niche options I have experience with and a passion for: outdoor recreation (camping, traveling, family, carschooling), wine (wine club, entertaining, food), and women (empowerment, fellowship, feminism).
Then there are format niches–clients want you to be an expert in their industry and in the project’s genre!
How am I to choose when a client wants me to be as specialized as writing user testimonials in senior care non-profit medical device rentals? I mean, that’s specific. And there doesn’t seem to be a lot of work for that.
But the experts tell me there is. Once you’re in, you’re it. And you’ll beat out all those non-experts.
So, how do I establish my niche? How do I get this experience? How do I make the big bucks?
As far as I can tell, these routes can gain you experience and even expertise (or the facade of expertise):
- Blog. Host a blog, develop content, market it, guest blog, have guest bloggers, develop a following, get publicity, etc.
- Write articles for various publications.
- Develop an “expert” document. Interview experts, create a How To, sell or give away your know-how in electronic form. And market it.
- Do work for free. Few businesses will say no to free work, right? (But make sure you aren’t hurting a competitor.)
- Start small. Find writing jobs for individuals or small companies. A lot of times this is also free work or practically free. But you’ll have sample writing, testimonials, and referrals in exchange.
I’ve been arrested in my niche development. I don’t know where to start. I’ve thrown some things out there with few results. I’m floundering.
But then I got a job on Upwork writing a brochure for a rock climbing guide company. I don’t rock climb, but because I have rock climbing friends, I was able to create a voice in my email to get the job. (Luckily, they were willing to pay professional rates.)
Then it occurred to me, I can search Upwork for other outdoor recreation industry jobs.
I love camping! My goal is to write while camping this spring/summer/fall. Wouldn’t it be great if I could get paid to do what I love?
And get this.This rock climbing company works exclusively within…wait for it…a state park. If I can successfully get referrals, I may be able to work for other businesses serving the park, in the outdoor recreation industry, the state park itself, in the rest of the state’s parks, with gear manufacturers, etc.
Yup. I found a door.
So why hadn’t I just started my outdoor recreation niche to begin with?
I was just lost.
I considered a blog, but I didn’t want to develop and maintain a blog just on camping. I feel like eventually I would run out of content and abandon it. It just didn’t fit.
I’m not a fan of writing articles for magazines. I don’t know what it is, but it just doesn’t click with me.
I am not an expert, so how could I possibly create an expert publication in my name?
I don’t have any material to show my camping “expertise.”
I didn’t know where or how to start. But now I’m on my way. And I am looking for more opportunities.
Until I find those opportunities, though, I am creating my own. I’m writing a sample blog on campsite “stations.” And I have an extreme camping pack list I can publish as an eBook. Both show my topic and genre know-how. Maybe I’ll start one of my dreams and create curriculum for carschooling!
That first step can be so difficult to take. I’m still not comfortable. What if I chose poorly, and I turn into dust instead of finding the life I want?
But in the words of Lao Tzu, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”
I will never get there if I don’t start.