A very common question among copywriters is whether niche copywriting is the right thing to do. That is, should they focus on one particular field or style of writing. For example, there are writers who are SEO experts. Others specialise in the world of finance and technology, while some are well-versed in sports writing.
Me — well, I’m a health writer.
Most of us who niche our services thought long and hard about whether we should narrow our focus, or continue to work as a ‘general’ copywriter. There are pros and cons to both sides of the coin, which you will need to consider before making your decision — and only you know what’s best for you.
However, what’s often at the centre of the decision is whether you can make enough money from niching.
The need to earn an income
The world of the freelance copywriter is very different to that of an employed copywriter.
First of all, employed copywriters don’t worry about where the next job is coming from. As a freelancer, it’s up to you to find work, chase work, and be responsible for bringing in the bucks.
From my experience, and that of many other copywriters, there can be a certain amount of fear regarding not getting enough work. When you’re employed, you can count on your salary, regardless of how much ‘work’ you actually do at work.
But as a freelancer, there is no safety net when it comes to income. You work and you get paid. You don’t work, you don’t get paid.As a freelancer, there is no safety net when it comes to income. You work and you get paid. You don’t work, you don’t get paid Click To Tweet
Working as a generalist
The fear of not getting enough work to earn an income, leads many copywriters (particularly when starting out), to take a generalist approach to their business. That means they will take on anything and everything in order to earn an income.
I know I did. Some of my earliest jobs included writing for industries I knew nothing about. Fortunately, I have excellent research skills, so I was able to do the job and do it well. However, it did take more time than I anticipated and I found I was writing about things that I didn’t necessarily connect with, or enjoy writing about.
Which brings you to the question that most copywriters come to eventually —
“Should I niche?”
Pros of niching
One of the big pros about niche copywriting is you become an expert in that area. And as we know, experts can command higher fees for what they do. By focusing on a particular field, you can become known as the ‘go-to’ person for that industry, and are therefore able to charge higher rates for your copywriting, than someone who is a generalist. If you have a skill that is quite unique or highly specialised, you can charge even more.
Secondly, you’re likely to build more effective industry connections, meaning referrals come in a lot easier.
As an expert in your field, you also have a good understanding of your industry, and what your client wants. For example, as a health writer, I have a solid understanding of key health concerns facing the Australian population. I also know how to write for the health and wellness industry, and have an ability to take complex medical information and express it in a way that the average person will understand. These are key skills in health writing.
If you niche, you will also spend a lot less time researching, as you’ll either have a solid background knowledge of your subject matter, or you’ll know where to go to source information you need to reference. Being more efficient means you can deliver projects faster — and therefore have the capacity to take on more work.
Finally, writing for a niche market means that it’s easier to brand yourself and your business, and market yourself accordingly.
Cons of niching
There are some things to be aware of when it comes to niche copywriting.
The first is the possibility that your niche is already overpopulated with writers, meaning there is more competition for the copywriting dollar. That said, I’m a big believer that if you’re good at what you do and focus on building a solid reputation as a copywriter, then competition shouldn’t be too much of a problem.
If your niche market experiences a downward turn, there may be less demand for the type of writing you do, making it more difficult for you to get work (or get paid decent rates for your work). However, if you’re a good copywriter, you’ll find that your skills can be used in any industry, so don’t let this put you off.
There’s also a chance that you become pigeon-holed to the point that you are only seen as capable of writing in your chosen field. While we know that great copywriters can write for any industry, your potential clients may not have that understanding. That’s why it’s important to market a secondary skill — such as research skills. This shows potential clients that while you’re a specialist in one area, you have the ability to research unfamiliar subject matter, and deliver quality copy.
Finally, if you continue to stick with what you know — whether it be writing for a particular field (e.g. health) or writing a particular style (e.g. blogs), you’ll never grow as a copywriter and you’ll never learn new skills. As uncomfortable as it may be sometimes, try to say ‘yes’ to something that’s out of your comfort zone, to avoid your skills become stale. However, avoid saying ‘yes’ to things that are out of your depth. The last thing you want is to take on a job you don’t have the skills to do, and risk your reputation.
The main fear many copywriters have about niching is that they may limit themselves by choosing to specialise. Personally, I haven’t found that to be a problem. In fact, my business has grown more since I started niching. And I know that’s the same for other copywriters too.
How to define your niche copywriting business
If you’re thinking of niching your writing, but aren’t sure what it might be, asking yourself the following questions:
- What have you done for a long time?
- What have you done a lot of?
- What are you good at?
- What do you know a lot about?
- What do you love writing about?
- What kinds of projects do you seem to do a lot of?
Many copywriters ‘fall into’ their niche based on the type and volume of work they have done in the past. This was certainly the case for me.
While I had always used my writing skills throughout my career, the last job I had before I went freelance was writing for a corporate wellness company. I wrote for them for over three years. During that time, I wrote hundreds and hundreds of health and medical articles on a wide range of topics. I learned how to research and cite references. I learned a lot about the health and wellness industry. I learned where to source my information from, and I learned how to write in a way that empowers people to change, rather than scaring them. I also discovered I really enjoyed writing about health. By the time I left, I knew what my niche was.
A final piece of advice on niching, is that you must enjoy what you write about. If all you’ve ever written about is hospitality, but you never enjoyed the subject matter, then don’t choose that as your niche. Instead, try to identify the skills you have and ask whether you can transfer them to other industries. You may be surprised at the answer.
Whether you decide to niche or not, is entirely up to you. But whatever you decide, make sure it’s a decision that you’re happy with.
Longevity in the copywriting industry is as much about your enjoyment in writing, as it is about your skills as a writer.
If you’d like to take advantage of my specialist health-writing skills, send me a message and I’ll get back to you very soon.