What I’m listening to: Changed the Locks by Lucinda Williams
Okay, so you don’t want one, you say. You don’t need one, you insist. And you know what? You could be right.
So why a post about niches then?
Because at some point, you’re going to want to show your background in a particular area (or three).
Hear me out. In some cases, you will be asked one or more of the following questions:
Do you have experience in …?
Have you written anything about…?
Do you write blog posts/ghostwritten articles/B2B copy… (fill in the blank)?
Could you send me clips you’ve written on…?
Been there, done that. Several dozen times, right?
So there you sit, proud freelance writing generalist, with no idea how to respond. You can’t really say “Well, I’m a generalist, so I can probably do it” can you? Nor would you want to say something like “Of course I’ve written blog posts, though they were for a lawn service. But I’m sure I could write successfully on bee keeping!”The successful freelancer will find mini-niches within their background. Click To Tweet
But why would you? Because honey, you want to work, right? So just refrain from arguing the point — for now. Let me show you some places where you may already have a mini-niche:
Your previous employment.
Personally, I’ve made hay with this one. I happened upon what I’d call the only available jobs at the time, and those helped me segue into this niche of mine. Don’t think so? I’ll explain. Because I had a part-time job doing marketing outreach for a small insurance agency, I had enough background to get hired as a data coordinator for a third party administrator (the outsourced people who do the grunt work to get your claim resolved). After a year of that, I had the background (the lingo and understanding) to parlay that into getting hired as senior editor at an insurance trade magazine. Years later, that experience helped me start a freelance writing business specializing in, you guessed it, insurance. Yes, your previous employment counts as experience. Even if you’ve worked in a restaurant or sold real estate, you can translate that behind-the-scenes knowledge into a mini-niche.
Your past projects.
This can be useful in a few ways, actually. First, you can show you’ve already written twice on recycling or agronomy or cat wrangling (if only that were a thing). Second, you can show that yes, you’ve written plenty of blog posts, articles, case studies, and brochures. Why not? There was one year I was referring to myself as the Blog Queen because all but one client at the time had hired me to write blogs for them because, hey, I was doing so for others already.
Your clients, past and present.
Why not present a list of clients you’ve worked with to show that yes, you can handle the project this potential client is proposing? Like showing past projects, you’re showing clients whose businesses either mirror exactly or have similarities to the client in front of you. For instance, I work with companies that have ties to the insurance industry, but I also work with clients in benefits, recruitment, finance, cyber security, and all types of safety. Look at the similarities between client businesses. See where their business overlap or complement each other. Then pull some of those samples to show the clients that you can more than handle the job.
Yes, you can still generalize to your heart’s content. Just don’t pass up the opportunities sitting right there in your portfolio.
Writers, how have you created your own mini-niche (or even a full-fledged niche)?