Niche Writing vs. Variety: Don’t Believe Everything You Read
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.
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.
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.
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.
Have you struggled with which direction to take in your writing endeavors?
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