The most common question I got during my first year as a freelance writer (other than “so do you not have health insurance?”) was “what’s your niche?”
Admittedly, this question ruffled my feathers. Because as a 25-year-old new to the industry, I quite frankly had no idea what my niche was. And to be honest, since I was just barely affording my rent, I didn’t think I was in a position to start limiting the writing services I offered.
With a few more years under my belt, I now realize what a misconception it was to believe that choosing a niche would limit the work that came my way. In fact, when I began marketing myself as a writer with a few specific specialities, I saw a steady stream of work begin to come in for the first time.
Why Do You Need a Niche Anyway?
Think of it this way: You have one bag of chocolate chips and three mixing bowls of cookie dough. You can either split the chocolate chips into three batches and have a lot of very mediocre, chip-less cookies, or you can use the whole bag on one batch of dough and discard the other two bowls of dough. The result? One perfect batch of ooey, gooey, chocolatey cookies.
I was never great at word problems, but you get the point. Your potential clients want someone who is an expert, and the more you try to do everything, the less of an expert you’ll be than if you only focused on one or two specialties.
Narrowing Down Your Niche
There’s no right and wrong answer to choosing your niche or niches. And yes, you can choose more than one, but shoot for only 1-3 specialties to keep from spreading yourself too thin. Here are three steps to help you narrow down your niches:
1. Find out what you’re good at
2. Determine what you LOVE to do
3. Consider lucrative revenue streams
Find Out What You’re Good At
This sounds easy enough, but sometimes it’s hard for us to see our strengths and weaknesses for ourselves. There are a few ways to get a better perspective of your best (and worst, for that matter) professional skills.
If you have experience, think about the projects you’ve worked on, either as a freelancer or otherwise, and consider times when you got truly positive feedback. Is there a theme among these top projects? This theme is a niche.
Perhaps you’re new to the world of freelance or are breaking into a new industry and don’t have past projects to use as comparison. In this case, try using a resume screener like Jobscan to help guide you. Resume screeners point out your top skills and can even suggest certain jobs that you’re a good fit for, which can help you narrow down your niche.
Determine What You Love to do
One of our greatest benefits as a freelancer is to have control over the work we do. Get the idea out of your head that you can’t love the work you do, because as a freelancer you can and should love your work.
Think about the projects that have made you feel confident and happy in the past. Was it a certain type of client that made you love the project or perhaps the project in general? By the way, it’s no surprise if what you’re good at and what you love to do overlap. Even more reason to make it your niche.
Consider Lucrative Revenue Streams
If you’re a freelancer, you’re representing your brand. Which means sometimes, you have to think like a business owner. Here’s how: when narrowing down your niche(s), consider the most lucrative revenue streams that take up the least amount of time. Next, Make sure those revenue streams are listed loud and clear on your professional website.
In my case, two of the three services (niches) listed on my website are types of projects that I love to work on and that I also happen to be good at. The third, social media management, is an easy, consistent service that takes up very little of my time. Plus, my social media management clients bring in the largest percentage of my monthly income.
These quick, high-paying projects are what will allow you to focus more of your time on the work you love to do.
Finding your niche as a freelancer has nothing to do with limiting yourself and everything to do with becoming more competitive within your industry. Once you determine your niche and begin to market yourself as an expert, I guarantee you’ll start reeling in much bigger fish than before.