Finding The Niche Within Your Niche

Identify Your Niche:

One of the most important things to explore, when you decide you want to be a writer, is how to create high quality content that people actually want to read. This means figuring out what your ideal readers will be searching for and wanting to know more about. The great thing about identifying your particular niche, is that you already have quite a few options to choose from. Based on your personal and professional experiences, you have a unique set of skills, knowledge and supporting details to pull from.

In terms of your writing career, the earlier you can figure out your niche, the better. This is a huge reason why some writers succeed and others totally flop. When you target your niche, you give yourself the opportunity to become an expert in that particular subject matter. When you bounce around different topics, you are essentially slowing yourself down from building up your expertise.

Target The Niche Within Your Niche:

Now that you have your niche sorted out, we can focus on getting even more specific. The more specific you get, the more distinct you become in terms of your services offered, which means more potential business. Try this exercise if you feel lost. Write your selected niche down at the top of your page. Skip down a line and break up your niche into subcategories. Continue skipping down a line and breaking up your categories until you can’t think of anymore.

Notice where your mind took you and what categories seem to be the most loaded. We tend to think more creatively and generate more ideas with content that interests us. In looking at these categories, which one feels the most interesting to you, and which topic can potentially produce the best content? By selecting the richest category, you are setting yourself up to not only write high quality material, but also produce a lot of interesting pieces.

If that exercise doesn’t work for you, try this. Do some background research on several niche topics that intrigue you. Notice which ones spark your curiosity the most. These are the topics that will be easier for you to write about, because they already fascinate you. Whether or not you are an expert on the subject matter, you can work towards becoming one. Daunting tasks are much easier when we are already passionate about them.

Fine Tuning Your Niche Writing Skills:

With your niche within your niche selected, you can get to work organizing relevant research that will keep you in the know and lend credibility to your writing. An easy way to organize relevant information is to break up your niche into subcategories. If you engaged in the first exercise, you are already good to go. Using relevant and current research, fill up your folders with potentially helpful and quotable information that can be incorporated into your work if you choose to include facts in your pieces. Remember Wikipedia, and other similar sources are typically not reliable. If you find something that feels legit, double check the findings. If it seems suspect, discard the information and keep on researching. Although this can feel tedious, writing becomes much easier when you already have pertinent information pre-sorted out.

Interviews are another way to produce well-rounded and dynamic pieces. Knowing an expert with direct experience within your niche is obviously helpful, but if you don’t, there’s no need to panic. Using a non-expert’s point of view can also be an interesting way to explore your topic. You may ask the non-expert what aspects of your niche they find most confusing, or would like more information on. In this way, you are able to highlight yourself as the expert, and practice conveying sometimes tricky information in a way that anyone could understand.

Building Up Your Niche Writing Portfolio:

In terms of finding niche specific jobs, you are at an advantage because you know exactly what you are looking for. But, this means that your dream job may not open up as readily as more generic jobs. This is a good thing. This allows you to build up your niche specific writing portfolio, while continuing to search for jobs that fit your specific needs.

There are plenty of sites that support writers as guest posters, and some will even contract with you. A great way to get your foot in the door is to search for writing jobs that have something to do with your niche. For example, if my general niche is pets, but my specific niche is three-legged dogs with immune system issues, I’m going to search for more general jobs, but offer the editor several pitches that support my unique niche. In this way, I stand out as a writer who can offer something different and expand the site’s expertise. For your personal blogs or websites, writing about your niche with your niche not only builds up your audience, but also gives you specific writing samples to pull when applying for jobs. As you write more niche specific pieces, your name becomes associated with said niche. The more your name pops up when someone looks up this niche, the more likely you are to be contacted as the particular niche expert, as well as get selected for jobs that are looking to expand their expertise.

Quick Recap:

1) Identify your niche

2) Target the niche within your niche

3) Compound and organize relevant research and interviews

 4) Use your personal blog and website to promote the niche within your niche expertise

 5) Apply and search for niche specific jobs and pitch your distinct niche expertise

Road Blocks That F*ck Up Your Writing Career

To make it as a freelance writer, I’ve learned a few things that have helped me work through some common road blocks that many writers encounter. The start of your career can hit you with a ton of rejection, and confusion, leaving you questioning your choice to become a writer. Here are a few things that may help you better prepare for a career as a freelance writer.

Reframe Rejection. The term reframe is often used in therapy, and it means to view from a different perspective, typically objective, neutral or positive. When it comes to rejection, every writer will likely experience it at some point. Sometimes rejection comes in the form of an actual rejection letter, or you just won’t hear back from place you’ve applied to, or pitched pieces to. If you take every rejection personally, you probably won’t want to continue as a writer. So, let’s reframe this sucker. Rejection creates an opportunity to fine tune your pitching skills, perfect your resume/cover letter, and figure out what types of jobs you are most qualified for. The more rejections you get, the closer you are to honing in on your specific type of job for the time being. Rejection also allows you to practice your healthy coping skills and build resiliency. Even though it is difficult to get rejected, you are ultimately the only one who can prevent your goals from being achieved.

Identify Self Esteem Issues. You may find your confidence wavering at the start of your career as you begin to figure out how you stand out in a sea of great writers, bloggers and content developers. This is totally normal. Figuring out your style as a writer takes time and practice.

Think about where you derive your self worth from. Does self worth directly coincide with your job? For many, especially in America, there is a huge premium placed on the type of job you have, like that in some way makes you who you are. Your job hopefully gives you opportunities for growth, learning and skill building, but it should not be the sole dictator of your self worth.  Your job can never fully encapsulate who you are as a person, in your entirety. So whether you have your dream job, no job or a meh job, work towards your self-esteem not becoming greatly impacted when things don’t go as you planned career-wise.

Understand Your Procrastination. Procrastination is not necessarily a bad thing. It can give you lots of clues as to why you are avoiding something. For many, procrastination is a way to replace a not-so-fun activity with something more enjoyable. When it comes to writing, you may encounter many subjects and publishers that don’t seem to fit with what your interests are, even if your pitch or job application ends up being approved. As you progress as a writer, take time to think about and explore whether or not the job opportunity is worth it. If you find yourself procrastinating more often than not when it comes to a certain subject, you may want to take a look at other options. You may find your passion has shifted.

Although finding your writing niche can be exciting, keep your options open and continue to explore what you enjoy writing about. New interests eventually lead to new opportunities. You never know where your career may end up, and at least to me, that’s pretty exciting.

Finding A Freelance Writing Job

Until you get your dream writing job, it is up to you to prioritize your job hunt. This can feel nearly impossible, especially when you already have a job and a million other responsibilities to keep track of. Here are some ways I got my shit together and started landing freelance writing jobs.

Make It Your Job To Find Your Dream Job. This may sound trite, but it’s so true. Until you begin thinking about your job hunt like a second or third job, you just won’t prioritize it and put in the effort it takes to find what you’re looking for. I drastically shifted gears when I decided I wanted to become a writer. For me this meant identifying myself as a writer, building up my writing portfolio and exploring potential writing topics of interest in order to find my niche. After a month of pouring through listings, websites, and company pages, I finally started landing some jobs and getting paid.

Get Organized. Consciously schedule some time everyday to search for jobs, even if it’s only for a few minutes it could make a difference. You never know when you’re going to find something awesome. Once you set a plan, stick to it! If keeping a calendar, or setting reminders on your phone keeps you from straying from the course, do it. You’ll begin to get into a routine, and the task at hand probably won’t feel as daunting. On that note, make sure your resume is up to date and well put together. If you’re not sure how to do this, check out some online examples, or ask for help. This makes applying for jobs much easier, makes you look more professional, and is another major time saver.

Set Goals. Try to set a few specific goals and a few more general goals. These will help keep you on target, while clarifying your unique interests. Once your goals are set, you will have an easier time figuring out what to search for. Solid goals can help keep you motivated to move forward with your job search. Some general goals of mine included finding a paying writing or editing job, being able to exercise my creativity within the role,  and being offered a contract or recurring role. More specific goals included finding a job where I could provide content about animal wellness, mental health, relationships, and financial stress.

Check Out Potential Topics Of Interest, Even If You’re Not An Area Expert. Allow yourself to explore different opportunities in the beginning of your writing career, because you never know what creative doors might open for you from there. This also gives you a better shot at finding your writing niche, which ultimately can set you apart from other writers. With every new gig you get, big or small, it not only sharpens your writing skills, but also boosts your freelance resume.

Celebrate The Small Stuff. Landing that perfect job takes time, so be patient and kind to yourself. Acknowledge all of the hard work you are doing to get there, and find ways to keep yourself motivated. Keep in mind that everyone at some point will experience rejection, and that’s okay. Rejection doesn’t mean that you’re an awful writer, it just means you weren’t a proper fit for that specific job. Just remember it’s not a matter of if you find a job, it’s a matter of when. Happy Job Hunting!

Let’s Chat. What’s been the most difficult part of finding a job? How long did it take you to land your first freelance writing job?

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Here’s Lily Celebrating The Small Stuff With You!

 

 

How to Get Your Ass Writing When You Feel Stuck

Writer’s block happens to the best of the best, so take a deep breath because you’re in good company. Regardless of the subject you’ve chosen to write about, or are required to write about, here are a few steps you can take to shift your creative energy.

  1. Be Mindful. When you hyper-focus on anything, it can lead to fixation, you know when you can only think about what you aren’t doing, and then think about the consequences of not doing what you’re supposed to do. This can become a not so fun cycle of negative thinking, one that can cause a downward spiral into self degrading thoughts. Try this… picture your thoughts floating by like text bubbles, or small banners. Watch the thoughts move on by, and just notice them. Take deep breaths as you continue to watch your thoughts float by. Continue to do this until your thoughts slow down.
  2. Get Grounded. For many, writer’s block can bring up some anxious feelings. Along with taking deep belly breaths, try doing some progressive muscle relaxation. In this exercise you begin at your toes, squeezing as tightly as you can and holding for thirty seconds, then releasing and moving up your body all the way to the top of your head.
  3. Free Write Words That Come To Mind When You Think Of Your Topic. Write your topic at the top of your page. Close your eyes and visualize your topic. If your topic doesn’t bring up a visual image, think about what your abstract topic would look like if it came to life and was standing in front of you. Without over-thinking, write out whatever comes to mind. If you’re on a roll,(Yay!) just go with it, if not move on to the next step.
  4. Think Of A Personal Experience That Brings Meaning To Your Free Written Words. Take a peak at your free-written words, and pick one that stands out right away. Begin brainstorming and then writing about what experiences connect you to this word. When you feel like you’ve nailed it, see if any of your experiences can become inspiration, or supporting details for your blog topic.
  5. Create An Outline. With some potential supporting details ready to go, you are all set to create your outline. Break up your piece into several manageable segments and feel free to repeat any exercises you found helpful. Happy Writing!

Let’s chat! Which step was the most difficult, or easiest for you? Which step felt helpful in terms of getting your creativity going? What did you end up writing about?