Imagine a “niche writer,” and you might think of someone who is limited. Boxed in. Pigeonholed.
Or maybe you actually envy niche writers because they obviously have years of deep experience in a particular field which they can now apply to their writing. And you don’t.
I haven’t been writing for decades, nor do I have any spectacular educational or career experience in the topic I write about most. I write for a variety of publications, from national and local mags to those entertaining booklets that grocery stores hand out before the holidays. Most importantly, I am able to make more money—and write for a much wider variety of clients—now that I have developed a niche.
Connect the Dots
Sometimes your niche is something you never would have thought about developing. This was certainly the case for me. When I started writing, I had a dream… I had an awesome dream. Lionel Richie would narrate my life through song while I wrote for the big glossies. Focus area? I didn’t need that! I could write about anything!
It went well at first. And then, I got frustrated. Each new piece required research into an area I was completely unfamiliar with. It was interesting and educational, but it was time consuming. When I broke down my hourly rate for these pieces, it wasn’t looking good.
I had written for a national food and lifestyle title when I learned about a new in-store magazine that was being developed for a big grocery store chain. I contacted the editor, flaunting my food mag experience. She immediately assigned me an article. A job had never come so easily.
Shortly after that, I was in another grocery store when I noticed this store had a much larger, very professional looking food-based booklet. I called up the publisher, introduced myself as a food writer, and stated my credentials. By the next week, I had two assignments for the publisher worth a total of $4,000. I had never had an assignment that paid so well.
Wanna know a secret? The articles I had written for the big food magazine—the one I name-dropped to get my other food assignments—weren’t even about food.
But I was familiar with the world of food writing and publication, and I connected the dots… and if you have even a few clips, you can do the same. Maybe you’ve done a round-up of hot new lunch box ideas, a review of a children’s book, and a article for the local newspaper about new policies at the elementary school. Who would be interested in all of these articles? Parents. Why not say you specialize in topics of interest to parents?
Once you’ve narrowed down your niche, it’s time to niche down your pitches.
Go long! Go wide! Go…less obvious!
Linda tells me many of her Renegade Writer students would love to write about a topic close to their hearts. This is a fantastic—having a topic you are truly passionate about is a great start to building a niche. Yet the problem is that many of these would-be niche writers think about markets where they would be preaching to the choir.
Having a niche sometimes means being an ambassador for your special topic. Give some thought to whether your piece would drive the average reader of that publication to action. Let’s say you love dogs, and want to tell the world how great they are. Do you think the readers of Dog Fancy magazine will change their thinking when they read a point-by-point analysis on why dogs are terrific pets? No. Those readers already love dogs, and except for a rare few have already acted on dog ownership.Add a Comment