Niche Writing vs. Variety: Don’t Believe Everything You Read

Updated on April 4, 2020
bravewarrior profile image

Shauna believes that knowledge should be shared, especially with whomever can gain from it without learning the hard way, as we so often do.

Keep your choices open. Don't box yourself in.
Keep your choices open. Don't box yourself in. | Source

Whether you’re new to freelance writing or you’ve got it down pat and are raking in the big bucks, you’ve undoubtedly scoured the Internet for advice. You’ve subscribed to blogs and newsletters put out by the top guns in the industry. And they all say pretty much the same thing: find a niche, reach out to the top blogger in the field, and get to know them so they’ll get to know you.

Niche, niche, niche. It’s drummed into your psyche. You fervently go deep inside your creative self to come up with that one area where you can share your expertise with your adoring fans. Find your corner in the literary or online world, persevere, and you’ve got it made.

Or so they say.

It sounds good in theory, right? After all, when we’re learning something new or new ways to do something we know, we turn to the experts who have been there and done that. We soak up all their literary wisdom like the sponges we are and take what they say as gospel.

I’ll be the first to admit that I question anything I learn that raises questions as to their validity. Just ask Sister George, my 6th grade religion teacher! We butted heads all the time and I got my knuckles slapped with a ruler and my hair pulled plenty of times for my defiance.

The fact of the matter is, sometimes we learn so much that we begin to lose faith in our abilities and gut instincts. It’s one thing to enhance who we are and what we have to offer. It’s another thing entirely to change who we are and how we think.

Let me explain. Mind you, I’m sharing my experience and observations in my journey as a freelance writer. What I share is neither wrong nor right; you’ll have to decide for yourself. However, if you’re on the fence, as I was, hopefully what I have to say will lead you to be honest with yourself and determine what’s right for you and your freelance career.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Ducks searching for variety in their diet.Even our pets embrace variety in life.
Ducks searching for variety in their diet.
Ducks searching for variety in their diet. | Source
Even our pets embrace variety in life.
Even our pets embrace variety in life. | Source

Take a Look At Your Everyday Life

Do you eat the same foods day in and day out? Of course not; that’s not healthy, nor is it interesting. We need to consume a balanced diet of a variety of foods: grains, fruits, vegetables, proteins, and dairy in order to keep our bodies functioning properly and our palates satisfied.

Do you wear the same clothes everyday? Of course not; that’s, well, that’s just gross!

How about hobbies and interests? Are you one-dimensional and tunnel-visioned when it comes to doing what you like to do when you’re free to do whatever pleases you? I think it would be a safe bet that your answer to that question is, “no”.

What do you like to read? I know we all have our favorite genres – mine is fiction. Within that genre there are several sub-categories that attract my attention. But certain non-fiction books find their way into my collection as well.

Do you see a theme here? If you guessed variety, you guessed right.

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I enjoy baking German Chocolate Cake from scratch.I enjoy Orchids in my mom's garden.I enjoy Harleys.I enjoy boating.I enjoy birds calling my backyard home.
I enjoy baking German Chocolate Cake from scratch.
I enjoy baking German Chocolate Cake from scratch. | Source
I enjoy Orchids in my mom's garden.
I enjoy Orchids in my mom's garden. | Source
I enjoy Harleys.
I enjoy Harleys. | Source
I enjoy boating.
I enjoy boating. | Source
I enjoy birds calling my backyard home.
I enjoy birds calling my backyard home. | Source

How Does Your Mind Work?

I’m not talking science here. I’m talking about how you satisfy curiosity. How long is your attention span? When do you get bored? What do you do to alleviate boredom?

I’m someone who bores easily. Maybe I have an overactive mind. Maybe I have an overactive imagination. The fact of the matter is, if I don’t have variety in my life, I get bored and become a very unhappy camper.

Because of this (and perhaps because I have a pretty high intelligence level) I’ve held many different positions in my working life. I’ve been a donut finisher, dry cleaner operator, dietary aid in a hospital, worked retail, dressed windows in retail boutiques, was an employment counselor, drywall finisher, finisher in a chrome shop, cashier, copywriter, accounting manager, and freelance writer. How’s that for variety?

The point is, when I put myself in a situation where I have one area of focus, I get bored before long. And that affects my attitude and productivity.

Can you relate?

As a freelance writer, I narrowed myself into a niche. I soon stagnated. My niche, environmental issues, depressed the hell out of me. I became the Madam of Doom and Gloom. My creativity dropped off the map. It was all about facts, figures, and crying, “the sky is falling”. (Not only that, but how many times can you write something different, interesting, and enlightening about one topic?)

Guess what happened then? I quit writing. Not entirely, but my motivation was shot all to hell. And that, my friends, did nothing to advance my career as a freelance writer.

I had boxed myself into a corner. Normally, when that happens, I’m like a cat in a cage; I come out fighting. This time, however, I became complacent. I lost my spirit. I lost my creativity. I lost my self.

I found niche writing to be restrictive, prohibitive, and counter-intuitive for me.

So, I stopped listening to the advice of the “experts” in the field and I listened to myself instead.

Those of you who know me personally know I can carry on a conversation with anyone about most anything. Those of you who know me as a writer know that I cover a variety (there’s that word again!) of topics. I’m not predictable. I think that makes for a good writer. I won’t go into grammar, flow and all that. You either have it or you don’t. (If you don’t, stick to hanging drywall!).

A variety of interests also opens up many, many markets. I can use my knowledge, interests, talents, and abilities to handle copy for an array of businesses.

I’m no longer a cat in a cage.

Hope you can fly with the big guns and choose a niche.
Hope you can fly with the big guns and choose a niche. | Source
Or set out on your own and give all you have to offer.
Or set out on your own and give all you have to offer. | Source

Final Words

As a freelance writer, especially one who also provides online content, there are things you need to learn. You need to learn today’s media and all the technical aspects. The more you know, the wider your opportunities will be.

But when it comes down to creating a lucrative career for yourself, you need to listen to your heart and soul.

If a single niche or two works for you, go for it! On the other hand, if you need diversity in your career to keep you motivated and your creativity excited and at its peak, that’s where you should be.

I know this post leans heavily towards choosing variety in your freelance career. I’m not trying to sway you. I’m speaking from my heart. No facts. No figures. No source links. However, I hope I gave you food for thought.

Go inside yourself and be honest. Choose the path for your freelance career that will allow you to shine and love what you do. It will pay off in the end.

Peace,

Bravewarrior

Self Evaluation

Have you struggled with which direction to take in your writing endeavors?

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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Shauna L Bowling

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    • bravewarrior profile imageAUTHOR

      Shauna L Bowling 

      2 months ago from Central Florida

      Wow, Greg, what a super huge compliment! I'm so glad I decided to fire up my computer this afternoon!

      One of the traits I'm attracted to about you as a writer is that you don't stick to one niche. I never know what to expect when I see your name pop up in my notifications. No matter what you write, it's written well. You have talent, my friend!

      I'm not sure what you're asking in your last paragraph. Please expound.

      Thanks for making my day, Greg! I hope you have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend.

    • boxelderred profile image

      greg cain 

      2 months ago from Moscow, Idaho, USA

      Sha - Huh. I had to go back and re-read this because I thought the clear take away was you and Sister George had a cat fight when you were in 6th grade...

      Seriously, I love the straight forward language in your writing that I'm guessing is just like talking to you in person. That's an admirable quality / ability that's kind of like grammar and flow--you either have it or you don't, as you said. You definitely have it. Great article with great advice!

      And as for the niche thing: the pro-niche advice is everywhere, though your advice here to (potentially) disregard that and go with your heart is more appealing and more in line with my own goals / thinking. I'm going to write sci-fi today, creative non-fiction tomorrow, stories about bikes, stories about recipes and why they mean something to me, and...well...just whatever happens to come to mind. I might even "host" a free association exercise someday to see what kinds of writing ideas people have. Your work here validates / encourages that line of thinking...

      Shauna, I'd also really enjoy seeing some of your environmental issues work, too, though, if you can give me a vector toward something that might be in the public domain.

      Thanks for the great read.

    • bravewarrior profile imageAUTHOR

      Shauna L Bowling 

      2 months ago from Central Florida

      Thank you, Rohini. I love that you used the word "delightful" to describe this post. I take that as a compliment.

      Thank you so much for reading and taking the time to comment!

    • Rohini T profile image

      Rohini T 

      2 months ago from Virginia, USA

      Very valuable advice for writers who are still finding their way.Enjoyed your delightful hub. Thanks!

    • bravewarrior profile imageAUTHOR

      Shauna L Bowling 

      3 months ago from Central Florida

      Cynthia, I absolutely know what you mean. When I tried to pigeon hole my writing, I felt it to be very oppressive and depressing, to be honest. Let your creativity fly freely. Let your muse guide the way. She won't let you down! My muse ran away for quite a while when I tried to stay within a single niche. It took her a few years to trust me enough to come back.

      I wish you the best in your writing endeavors.

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing what's in your heart, Cynthia!

    • Cynthia Hoover profile image

      Cynthia Hoover 

      3 months ago from Newton, West Virginia

      I have struggled with finding a 'niche' as well. It is honestly refreshing to see others who really don't fit into that collective. I gave up on finding a niche, too many things interested me in life to leave myself stuck with a single category for writing.

    • bravewarrior profile imageAUTHOR

      Shauna L Bowling 

      3 months ago from Central Florida

      When the mood strikes me, my friend. Hopefully, I'll be inspired this weekend.

      Unlike most of the world at the moment, I'm not working from home. I still go to the office Monday thru Friday and put in a full day. That only leaves weekends for other stuff I need or want to take care of.

      I have a folder full of ideas. I need to take a gander and see what catches my muse's spirit.

    • Kyler J Falk profile image

      Kyler J Falk 

      3 months ago from Corona, CA

      Speaking of not sticking to your niche, when are you going to write your next piece, Shauna? I've been awaiting something from you eagerly.

    • bravewarrior profile imageAUTHOR

      Shauna L Bowling 

      3 months ago from Central Florida

      Mar, I don't know what I'd do if I had to stick with one niche. It just doesn't suit me. I like the freedom to roam, discover, and reveal.

      Thanks for your sweet comment. It's sentiments such as yours that keep my inspiration alive.

      Love ya lots!

      Sha

    • marcoujor profile image

      Maria Jordan 

      3 months ago from Jeffersonville PA

      Dear Sha,

      I am totally on the same page as you with keeping variety in our writing.

      Your writing is a breath of fresh air these days, in partnership with your muse.

      Sending you love and hugs, mar

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 

      4 months ago from England

      I am so far thank you Shauna. Please keep safe. This is a horrible time. x

    • bravewarrior profile imageAUTHOR

      Shauna L Bowling 

      4 months ago from Central Florida

      Nell, like you, I write about whatever strikes my fancy. It certainly doesn't pay the bills but it feeds my creativity and keeps it active. For me, that's what it's all about.

      I hope you're doing well and keeping safe!

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 

      4 months ago from England

      Great advice. I am terrible, I am rather like you. One job to the next, and so on. I do try to keep up with trends on my writing, but I don't think I have the knack of earning big, as some people do. They seem to know the right niche.

    • bravewarrior profile imageAUTHOR

      Shauna L Bowling 

      4 months ago from Central Florida

      Peggy, I'm glad to see you here today. I hope you are doing well and taking precautions to be healthy.

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 

      4 months ago from Northeast of Dallas, Texas

      "Listening to your heart and soul" when it comes to writing is great advice. If your heart isn't in it, the writing reflects that. So glad to read this today.

    • bravewarrior profile imageAUTHOR

      Shauna L Bowling 

      4 months ago from Central Florida

      Dora, your comment reflects my sentiment in a nutshell. Thank you so much for stopping by!

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      4 months ago from The Caribbean

      Thank you for sharing from your heart. There's no one-size fits all when it comes to choosing what to write. We are inspired by different themes on different days. I agree that "you need to listen to your heart and soul." I accept your advice.

    • bravewarrior profile imageAUTHOR

      Shauna L Bowling 

      4 months ago from Central Florida

      Ruby, I love your comment! I have a folder of topics or titles to jump start my creative endeavors that I've been collecting for years. Time to break it out and see what's in there.

      I'm thrilled that you like my paranormal stories; my fiction writing seems to lean in that direction. Perhaps I should come up with more of those to get our minds off the current reality.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 

      4 months ago from Southern Illinois

      I like the way you advocate choices. Living and doing the same thing day in and day out must be boring. I have nil desire to write for anyone, but I do like to write poetry and fiction when I'm in the mood. I have been so bored with this C virus. I know your hub will help someone, it's that good. Take care. Stay healthy and keep writing. I enjoy your stories, esp. when you get into the paranormal.

    • bravewarrior profile imageAUTHOR

      Shauna L Bowling 

      4 months ago from Central Florida

      Linda, those are actually swans. Aren't they beautiful?

      I wouldn't worry about you and your niche. You bring history and stories to your food articles. They're always interesting and provide so much more than recipes. I'd say you're doing very well in your niche. I always look forward to your posts. Ultimately, that's what it's all about, right?

      One or two niches just doesn't suit me. My mind is all over the place. I found it very difficult to stick to one theme when I had my website/blog. I feel much more free to let it all hang out when I have all the avenues HubPages has to offer us writers.

      Enjoy your Sunday, Sis. Sending well wishes to you, Bill, and your daughter.

    • bravewarrior profile imageAUTHOR

      Shauna L Bowling 

      4 months ago from Central Florida

      Bill, we're doing well. Thanks for your concern.

      Thanks for stopping by with your words of encouragement. You're a good friend!

      I read your comment to Audrey on your blog concerning the effect your new furnace is having on Bev. What a complete bummer! Keep an eye on her, my friend.

    • Carb Diva profile image

      Linda Lum 

      4 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Wow, Sha you've got my all ramped up now. I've been that one of those ducks in a row (actually, they're geese, aren't they?) for far too long. Perhaps I should listen to you and Bill and spread those wings a bit.

      This is such a good article; full of solid advice and enthusiasm.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      4 months ago from Olympia, WA

      It's always nice to hear from the "voice of experience." It's how we learn, as is listening to different opinions. You presented your case well, my friend.

      I hope this finds you and your son well and healthy. Sending hugs across the Great Divide.

    • bravewarrior profile imageAUTHOR

      Shauna L Bowling 

      4 months ago from Central Florida

      Manatita, your Voice speaks to you loudly and clearly. You have a different calling and purpose than most humans. Your Voice is meant to reach the world with the message of inner peace and recognition of the soul's connection to a higher power.

      You have a noble purpose in life, my friend. Keep doing what you do. You are making a difference in the world!

    • bravewarrior profile imageAUTHOR

      Shauna L Bowling 

      4 months ago from Central Florida

      Umesh, I'm pleased to hear you agree with me. I'll run over to your corner to see what you're up to!

    • bravewarrior profile imageAUTHOR

      Shauna L Bowling 

      4 months ago from Central Florida

      Flourish, I love your music article. My only problem is I do most of my HP reading during my lunch hour thru the week. An hour just doesn't give me enough time to explore and absorb your amazing articles. I want to watch each and every video, not just skim through. For that I apologize. Your HR articles are very informative.

      You do well in your niches. You definitely don't stagnate as I found myself doing when I had my website.

    • bravewarrior profile imageAUTHOR

      Shauna L Bowling 

      4 months ago from Central Florida

      Kyler, I beg to differ with you. Judging from the following you're gaining on HP, you're no brick wall. I for one, find your posts entertaining, enlightening, sometimes frightening, but always honest.

      You're on the right track, my new friend. You know what you want and you've set the path for yourself. Never let anyone deter you or get in your way.

    • bravewarrior profile imageAUTHOR

      Shauna L Bowling 

      4 months ago from Central Florida

      MizB, the reason I follow you is because your posts are so varied. I never know what to expect from you and you always entertain or inform. I gave up freelance writing not only because it didn't pay the bills, but I felt my creativity was limited. You have to take on the client's voice. I found that very rote and unpleasant after a while. I'll continue to earn a living as a project accountant, and use HP as the slate for my muse.

      Thanks for your wonderful comment. You always provide great insight!

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 

      4 months ago from london

      A lot here Sha and well presented. I'm sure it will be useful for many. Good to see you so vibrant and healthy.

      Ultimately it is the inner Voice that dictates to us. Some listen, some don't and in others the Voice is very dim. Doing what the Voice asks of us will always bring joy. Sometimes we think we are listening to It, but It's a very subtle fellow.

      Each Voice is unique. We all have our own blue print. You seem to understand the message and are listening to yours. Awesome!

    • bhattuc profile image

      Umesh Chandra Bhatt 

      4 months ago from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India

      People talk of 'niche' and 'SEO'. So far, I have not used them. Your article firms up my convictions. Thanks.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 

      4 months ago from USA

      Although I really enjoy having a primary niche and a secondary niche I sometimes write on other things. I find it challenging to generate new angles on my niche. Maybe that’s just me. I can see where you’re coming from, however.

    • Kyler J Falk profile image

      Kyler J Falk 

      4 months ago from Corona, CA

      I use freelance writing like something of a doodle pad, refining my skills and maybe getting a little fame and infamy in the process. I mean, it isn't working out any further than being my public doodle pad, but who knows it might take off one day and I can proudly throw it in the dumpster along with all the accolades it brings! My biggest dream is creating my own universe, that is where my heart draws me and where it stays without question.

      In creating my own universe I get to use all the skills I use for my freelance writing, and I'll never be boxed in as far as creativity goes like I am here on HubPages and other publishing sites. Also, I'm stubborn as it concerns the use of social media and learning about it, so my freelance writing career will never take off without both a personality and platform mix-em-up in my life that I'm just not willing to do.

      No one wants to be associated with a brick wall like me, but when I finally get my big dream to come to fruition, I think it'll really take off. Fingers crossed, and best of luck to everyone in their writing endeavors!

    • MizBejabbers profile image

      Doris James MizBejabbers 

      4 months ago from Beautiful South

      You are a gal of me own heart. When it comes to writing, I am a will-O-the-wisp. There isn't any one subject that interests me enough to stick with it. Maybe I have ADHD, I don't know, but I think that is the reason I became a journalist. One must know a little bit about everything, and if they know nothing about an assignment, they'd better get busy and learn. I recently took a course in how to build a website, but I can't settle down on a niche subject. I am really a very deep person when you get to know me, but I enjoy writing humor and fluff stuff. Perhaps it's because I spent 30 years doing some very serious editing and rewriting in the legal field. In fact, I have no desire to be a freelance writer. I'm retired and I just want to have fun. I am so glad to know that I'm not alone. You really give us some food for thought. Keep up the good work, my friend.

    • bravewarrior profile imageAUTHOR

      Shauna L Bowling 

      4 months ago from Central Florida

      Paula, I love you with all my heart and soul! I told you when I first spoke to you on the phone that you sound like my Aunt Polly, who is now deceased, but was Godmother to all three of us kids. My mom is one of ten. Only she and my Aunt Jo survive. Aunt Polly was her favorite sister.

      Okay, so Sha meandered off the point. Surprise, surprise!

      I get you, girlfriend. That's why we're friends outside HP.

      They ain't no niche for minds that continue to wander. I know I don't have to excuse my grammar. We've earned the right!

    • bravewarrior profile imageAUTHOR

      Shauna L Bowling 

      4 months ago from Central Florida

      John, I love your comment! You validate my thoughts. Writers are creative. We're not comfortable when we're pigeon-holed.

      When I was a paid copywriter back in the '80s, we had a marketing and sales department. All the copywriters had to do was write and create storyboards for the commercials (I wrote for a production house). Our clientele were varied. That allowed the copywriter to take a perspective that would appeal to the demographics on a variety of subjects/products. I loved being a copywriter in the '80s!

      Life has changed for the writer and not for the good. Writers these days have to be an entire f%$*ing advertising company! That's just not right.

      We HP writers are fortunate that they do the marketing for us, that is, if our posts make it to niche sites. Yes, we don't make $50/hour as I did way back when, but it alleviates some pressure. I have a full-time job that pays my bills, so my passive HP income is a welcome plus and I have an avenue to express my creativity.

      That being said, I think my advice would still do well for freelance writers who are capable of marketing themselves and earning a viable income.

      Thanks so much for your comment. It resulted in a verbose comeback on my part!

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Suzie 

      4 months ago from Carson City

      Sha.......This is a GREAT article! I shook my head in agreement with you, throughout most of it. You're so sensible, woman! I love the way you think. More importantly, from one writer to another, you are so clear and explicit in sharing your thoughts....

      How does MY mind work? LOL....Maybe I shouldn't elaborate here in print! To be perfectly honest, girlfriend, more recently, I've asked myself, "Does my mind work?" Period! My poor muse has been comatose for months.....with no desire or push to get busy.

      I know it's because I have so much on my mind and have been so preoccupied with this "move" thing.

      Oh God....."The "NICHE".....don't get me started. My works are all over the place in terms of topics. I couldn't possibly find a niche, nor do I want to! You know what else I can tell you about a Niche? It is my mother's maiden name.....seriously. It's the American spelling of her parents Italian name NICCI......NICHE (pronounced with a long E at the end!) When the old folks came over on the boat from Sicily to Ellis Island....the authorities wrote the Italian names down as they HEARD them …..and that was that! N I C C I is pronounced Nee-Chee......Niche! So there ya go! I don't need a dammed niche, Sha, I'm the daughter of a NICHE!! I know, I'm a nut case..

      You're just writing up a storm, girl! Cheers, Paula

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 

      4 months ago from Queensland Australia

      Shauna, oh how this article resonates with me!

      Everything you read on the Internet, each piece of advice, whether about being successful at HubPages, in blogging, or freelance writing..says “You need to find your niche and stick to it.” Well that may work for some and good luck to them, but like you, this would bore the crap out of me.

      I admit poetry is my preferred form of writing but even within that I try to be as diverse and versatile as possible, and also need to change it up and write an article or some short fiction now and then.

      I read many different genres of fiction as well, and even on HubPages I need to keep reading different types of content. You offer great examples of how we need to eat different foods, and not wear the same clothes all the time etc. I remember when you were concentrating on only writing about environmental issues also. Although that is important and should concern us, I am glad you broke out of that niche. I can see it would get depressing in time without change.

      Praise versatility and variety! Thank you for writing this on behalf of many of us.

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