Why you need to choose a niche to grow your freelance business
In my first stint as a freelance journalist about a decade back, I really had no focus area. I used to think of story ideas and then sell them before I start working on them. It worked initially, and I wrote some good stories for Women’s Feature Service, Women’s eNews, World & I, Hindu Business Line, Info Change India, India Together, and so on. However, many times, my ideas were elementary, making it tougher for me to sell them.
I see the difference in my second stint as a freelancer when my niche is clearly defined. With years of experience as a telecom journalist, it was natural for me to foray into content marketing for telecom and technology firms.
As a generalist, you might be writing on India’s burgeoning wine industry one week and on new retirement insurance plan the next week. On the other hand, as an expert, you focus exclusively on writing about your particular niche. Here are a few reasons why you should work towards developing a niche:
Working With Bigger Firms
Bigger firms look for domain experts. They are not just looking for good content writers but for writers who understand their business and industry. For instance, a healthcare major will be inclined to work with a freelancer who has years of experience writing on the health industry. He/she brings insights and adds a depth to the write-ups, which are priceless. A content writer with no idea of the health industry will never be able to match this.
It will definitely be easier for you to break into bigger and better-paying clients if you position yourself as an expert in their area of operations. You can charge a premium based on your years of experience and proven in-depth knowledge of the segment you are writing on.
Better and Sharper Ideas
What happens is that when you are writing on a particular industry for a long time, you have seen it evolve and you are an expert on it. Your experience ensures that your ideas will be sharper, and you are able to join the dots faster and better. You can come up with ideas without spending hours and hours on research.
Let me explain with an example. Let’s say your area of interest is mobile devices. If you have been writing on this topic for the last five years, you will not just review a device, but you will also talk about its evolution and compare it with devices in the same category. You will also be able to see gaps in the product better than others. This kind of insight helps you differentiate yourself from your competitors.
More importantly, you have contacts in your niche who make it easier to do the story. This experience comes in handy if you are working on a tight deadline. All you have to do is to call your contacts, and because of your long-standing relationship with them, they are likely to help you or squeeze interaction with you in their busy schedule.
One of the biggest advantages of niching is that it makes it easier to position yourself. A well defined unique selling proposition ultimately helps in branding yourself and you are able to position yourself as an expert.
What this means is that you will know what kind of clients you are looking for me. For instance, if your niche is the Internet of Things (IoT), you know what kind of publications you should target and the dream companies you would like to work with as a content marketer. It just makes the job of defining and finding an ideal client much easier.
How Do You Choose Your Niche?
Many times your niche does not seem obvious. I usually recommend to not work in a particular niche in the initial phase of your career unless and until you decide to freelance after years of working. This helps you in experimenting and exploring and then choosing your niche based on your interest area.
Here are a few things you should keep in mind while deciding on a niche:
- Your interest area: This is the crux of the matter. You might be getting more clients or commendation in personal finance, but if you enjoy forex or auditing more then you should go for the latter. The logic here is that you will do your work passionately and will genuinely enjoy what you do, leading to better quality and productivity. Not to mention mental satisfaction.
Think hard about your interest areas. It is not the same as your expertise. For instance, I mentioned earlier that I come with years of experience as a telecom journalist, so it was natural for me to start targeting telecom firms for content marketing assignments. However, I was also interested in personal finance, which I had covered for just six months about 15 years back. But I thoroughly enjoyed it and decided to develop it as a niche. Now, my firm, Deepworkz Media Services, works only in two areas, telecom, and personal finance.
- Market potential: Interest is not the only criteria. For instance, I enjoy journalism and love working on research-based stories, but I realized that the market was diminishing, so I had to balance it with content marketing.
A combination of high market potential and your interest area would be a perfect niche. You might need to find a balance with taking up an assignment for money and passion, but try always to tilt your work towards your passion…it leads to a happier you. 🙂
A common argument against niching is that you might be restricting and limiting your client base. Well, you can develop a niche is more than one area. But if you want to grow your income as a freelancer, you need to specialize and position yourself as an expert. So go, niching!!
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