This is one of the biggest debates a freelance writer faces when they start their writing career. Should you specialize in a certain niche or write about broader topics and become a generalist?
After a year of starting my blog and building my freelance writing business, I faced this same dilemma. The answer depends on a few different factors.
Determine Your Goals
What are your goals as a writer? Are you hoping to make a living as a freelance writer or are you just writing as a hobby? Do you want to be known as the go-to expert in your field, or do you want your name to be known more widely?
It also depends upon your particular niche. Does your area of expertise offer good marketing opportunities? Does it require in-depth knowledge or is just simple researching skills?
Whether you choose to be a generalist or a specialty writer is up to you, but both options have advantages and disadvantages. Let’s take a look at the main pros and cons.
Advantages of Being a Specialty Writer
- You have a smaller learning curve, since you’re concentrating and focused on one topic.
- There’s less competition and you no longer have to bid against all the generalist writers.
- You can make more money, since you’ve established yourself as an expert.
- There are lower marketing costs because you’re targeting a smaller part of the market.
- You can stand out from the other generalist writers, show your personality and set yourself apart from the pack.
Before niching down in your target market, make sure there’s adequate demand for your services. If you overspecialize in an area it could backfire and actually hinder you from finding new gigs.
Disadvantages of Being a Specialty Writer
- It’s difficult to break into new topics, since you’re tied down to one area of specialization.
- You’ll have fewer opportunities to find new writing jobs since your target market is smaller.
- You’re more susceptible to the ups and downs of market conditions.
- You’ll have more downtime, because there are fewer projects available in your niche.
- There’s less room for growth, since you’re always writing about the same thing.
Being a generalist writer and catering to multiple niches is not a bad thing, but if you’re looking to get ahead of the competition and make more money, specializing in a specific niche is your best bet.
Of course you always want to back up your specialty with the skills to write in other areas so you remain flexible as the market changes.
Do you specialize in one area as a freelance writer, or do you cover broader topics?
Carrie Smith is a small business accountant turned financial strategist. Through her blog Careful Cents, she helps entrepreneurs and freelancers change their lives and maximize their business. Her work has been featured on The Huffington Post, Lifehacker and many other financial websites. You can find her on Twitter @carefulcents.