I get a lot of questions from friends (and friends of friends) who want to know how I’m able to “do this writing thing.”
For one thing, a freelance business is probably one of the most wallet-friendly businesses you can start. There aren’t all that many setup expenses when it comes to freelancing. The most expensive part of it is your effort and time. You need to be self-motivated, patient, and driven. You need to have a well-thought out plan, goals, and a skill that you can continue to work on every single day.
I write every day. I query, apply, and pitch every day. I brainstorm every day. I market myself every day. I never stop, and that is how I’m able to “do this writing thing.”
Freelancing is really diversified, which is part of what makes it such an exciting and versatile business venture. There is something for everyone. Take a look at this (short) list of freelancing ideas:
- Graphic Design
- Illustration, painting, and other art
- Teaching (skills, hobbies, etc.)
- Jewelry or crafts
- Sewing, clothing, costumes, etc.
- Video production
- Gardening, landscaping
- Pet care (Dog walking, grooming, training, etc.)
Is there something you are particularly good at? You can start a freelance business doing it!
There is a market for pretty much any skill. It’s all just a matter of finding your niche market.
Finding Your Niche
Let’s say you have a cavity from eating all that Valentine’s Day chocolate. Would you rather go to a doctor who is a general practitioner, a podiatrist, or a dentist? I’m just going to go ahead and assume you’d pick the dentist.
Why do I think you’d do that? Because the dentist is a doctor who is specializes in teeth. They know all about that cavity of yours, and they know how to fix it.
Your prospective clients are going to have the same views when it comes to their own cavities, as well as when it comes to their business.
How to Find Your Freelance Niche
Make a list of all the subjects you know really well. Narrow down that list to the things that interest you the most. Cut that list down to the things that are the most marketable. That is your niche.
Use that to apply to jobs on job boards, or when you are pitching to trade publications. Make it clear you know the ins and outs of that subject. Provide your most relevant samples of writing you’ve done on that topic. Keep in mind: It’s a good idea to have expertise in more than one subject. That way, if a particular niche market dries up, you won’t be screwed.
I write about a variety of business-related topics for businesses and entrepreneurs. These are areas I know particularly well, and am able to use my background to write like an expert on these topics.
Narrowing Your Niche
Narrowing down your niche is important for any freelancing business, not just writing. (I just happen to focus a lot on writing. Gee…I wonder why??)
Take art, for example: If you wanted to hire someone to paint a regal portrait of you in your TARDIS dress, would you hire someone who does portraits or someone who only ever paints cats?
Probably the latter of the two, right? You’d want to hire a painter who is specialized in the portraiture, rather than someone who never paints people.
The same goes with your own business: The more specific your niche/services, the better you will be able to attract clients.
How to Narrow Your Freelance Niche
A great example of someone who saw the best results after finding her niche is the incredibly talented Tea Cake, a British artist and illustrator. She bases her artwork on her interests – natural history, science, the occult, etc. – and each one of these interests is “very near and dear to [her] because she grew up on it all.”
When asked about how she found her niche, she stated:
I just kind of fell into the niche I occupy when I stopped drawing what I thought people wanted to see, and started drawing the things I, myself, was more interested in. By some wonderful chance, the latter proved more popular anyway!
Not only does remaining true to your personal brand and passions help you narrow down your niche, but it also helps you build up a reputation within your industry. While it can be tempting to apply to as many jobs as possible by being a generalist, it won’t really get you all that far. Most people don’t want to hire a generalist who may or may not be able to get the job done right, when they can hire a specialist who has experience with that particular subject area.
The best way to narrow your niche is to take the main subject idea, and then break it down as far as it will possibly go.
Let's say you want to specialize in the beauty industry.Are you going to specialize in makeup, nails, skincare, or something else? If it's makeup, are you going to specialize in costume/stage makeup, glamorous looks, or everyday looks? Are you better at lipsticks or different types of foundations? What skin tones do you specialize in? What about makeup for people with glasses?
Just keep breaking it down until it's as specific as possible. Work on narrowing down your niche, and specialize in a few different areas. It will boost your freelance income and, eventually, clients will come to YOU.
Do you freelance? How did you determine your niche? How do you go about getting clients/customers? Let me know in the comments below.
Also, someone you know you could probably benefit from this information. Why not be a pal, and share it?