5 Reasons A Freelance Writer Shouldn’t Be A Generalist (And How To Find Your Perfect Niche)

Do you write for 32 different niches?

Deb Law has.

But, now she’s realized that being a freelance writing generalist doesn’t get you paid the big bucks.

And she recommends that other freelance writers niche down as well, for five great reasons that she shared in the inaugural episode of The No Pants Show, hosted by Susan Rook D’Ettorre, in the No Pants Project Open Community.

Deb Law has been a freelance copywriter for five years, and she is also one of the student coaches in the The No Pants Project, where she helps students work through the 90-day program to build a profitable freelancing business.

Deb said she stopped keeping track of all the different niches she’s written for when she got to 32!

She doesn’t recommend that new freelance writers take on this many niches though.

“As a general rule, it’s best to specialize,” Deb said during The No Pants Show interview. “Initially, focus on a few niches, and take on new ones slowly.”

These are the five reasons Deb recommends freelance writers should specialize and focus on a few niches, rather than be a generalist with their writing:


#1: You Can Be Paid More

“When you’re seen as a specialist, you can be paid more,” Deb said.

“You’re not seen as a commodity, but as an expert in that industry.”

Being an expert is valuable.

You know things that other people don’t know, and you can share that with an audience in a way that they understand.

And, because you are an expert, people will pay you more.

Deb gives an example: If you need to have brain surgery, are you going to see your family physician, or are going to see the neurosurgeon?

You’re going to see the specialist that really knows your problem, has the experience, and that you know can help you.

And, you’ll be willing to pay for that expertise too.

But, if you’re not an expert in that industry, and you’re just “a writer,” then what you really are is a commodity.

A commodity is like copper, or lumber, or corn. It’s just a thing you can buy with no distinction from one to the next.

And, when you shop for a commodity, you’re only really looking at one thing — the price.

What’s the cheapest corn you can get?

Because, it’s all the same, right?

But, that’s not what you want as a freelance writer.

You don’t want to just be the cheapest freelance writer out there.

You want to be paid what you’re worth.

How do you do you that?

You niche down. You specialize in an industry. You understand the ins and outs of how that industry works.

And then, you’ll be paid for that expertise.

Bonus: Download The Anti-Commodity Formula Workbook for more on how to NOT be a commodity.


#2: If You Don’t Care, It Shows

“If you’re writing about something you don’t care about or don’t have any interest in, it shows up in your work,” Deb said in the interview.

“You’re not going to speak their language.”

And, the client will be able to see that you don’t care from the quality of your writing.

You won’t use the same words that they use.

You won’t want to spend the time learning the right words.

And your writing won’t be that effective for that audience.

Deb said that she was getting a homeowner’s insurance quote recently and they asked her what kind of roof she had.

“Um…. it’s brown…” she said.

Writing for a roofing company would not be a good fit for Deb.

She has no interest, no passion, and no knowledge of roofs.

She doesn’t know how to talk about roofs, she doesn’t speak the language, and that will show.

Susan, host of The No Pants Show, gave an example of having to write a sample blog post about parenting tips for teaching your kids about sustainable energy.

But, Susan’s not a parent.

And, although she thinks sustainable energy is great, she doesn’t know a lot about that topic.

So, she quickly wrote a 500-word blog post on this topic she knew nothing about, but, unfortunately she wasn’t asked back.

They told her that her writing wasn’t up to their standards.


Because she wasn’t an expert in this topic.

It’s hard to do good work when you just don’t care about what you’re writing!

Deb shared a quote she heard recently: “When there’s good marketing, sales become superfluous.”

When you’re putting yourself out there in a way that your market wants to be approached, when you’re speaking their language, when you know how to talk to them, and use the same words they do, they’ll understand you, they’ll want to work with you, and they know you’ll be able to help them.

You won’t be a commodity anymore.

You’ll be someone who is worth paying because you care, you know what you’re doing, and it shows.


#3: You Can Prove Yourself More Easily To New Clients

“I write email campaigns and Facebook ads.”


“I just finished up a campaign for an insurance agent who was able to write $14,400 in premium in one month directly as a result of this campaign. We also were able to put 237 new people on an email list for just over $1 each.”

Which one sounds more convincing to a potential new client (who’s also in the insurance industry)?

Once you start to get clients in a particular niche, you’ll start to get results.

You’ll have proof that you can do what you say do.

And that will make it much easier to prove yourself to new clients in that same industry.

It’s a snowball effect.

Just get one client, do great work, and you’ll be able to get more clients.

Side note: Once you do have that first client or two and all those positive results, don’t forget to ask for testimonials or case studies to post on your website, or to share directly with new potential clients you’re talking to!


#4: You Can Save Time

“You’re not doing new research each and every time you go into a new niche,” said Deb.

Every time you start writing for a new niche, you have to do the research all over again.

But, if you can stick with a few niches, then you’ll be able to use the knowledge you’ve gained from your past work again.

You can save time.

You can get more done in a shorter amount of time, which also increases how much you’re getting paid per project.

Charge the same amount, but do it less time = more money per hour of work!

Starting over in a new niche again and again is just going to make your projects take longer, which makes them less valuable.

“Is the time I’m spending researching a new industry each time worth it?” Deb asked.

If you’re writing for an industry that you already have knowledge in, or that you’ve worked for in the past, you’ll more easily be able to get the work done without a lot of new research needed.

But, if you do need to do more research, if it’s a topic you’re interested in, you’ll probably be more willing to do it, which leads us to #5…


#5: You Have A Good Excuse To Read More On A Topic You Love

“As a writer, I love reading!” Deb said during the interview.

And if you’re a writer, you probably love to read also.

If you choose to write for a niche that you already love, care about, and are passionate about, not only will it be easier for you to write on that topic, but you’ll also have a great excuse for reading even more on that topic.

When you’re spending time reading or researching the subject, you’re actually also doing research for your clients — double win!

You’ll be more than happy to read about that topic and do more research — it won’t even feel like it’s work.

You’ll more easily be able to write on that topic.

Your work will be good because it’s something you care about, and you’ll speak their language.

You’ll have amazing samples and proof that you can work in this industry because you’ve done it before, so getting new clients will be a no brainer.

You’ll save time because you won’t have to do so much new research.

But, when you do have to do research or read something new, it will be so much fun to do!

Sounds amazing, right?

So, how do you choose this perfect, amazing niche that also needs you to write for them?


How Do You Find Your Perfect Niche?

Now that we know WHY freelance writers should specialize in a particular (or a few different) niches, how do you figure out what that niche should be?

First, you should think about some things that you are interested in.

What are you passionate about? What interests you? What are your hobbies? Past experiences?

Make a list of some topics, areas, industries, niches that you think you might be interested in writing about.

Then, take each of those and ask yourself some questions or do some research on them with these questions in mind.


Deb’s Questions To Ask When You’re Trying To Choose Your Niche:

  1. Is it a market that’s growing?“If the market is on its last leg, it’s going to be hard for you to grow in that niche. It’s going to be difficult to expand and specialize,” explained Deb.
  2. Are people in this niche willing to pay professional rates?Do they hire freelancers like you already, or is it a small mom and pop store that only hires high schoolers to help them with their website?
  3. Are people in this niche actively looking for content or the services that I provide?“It’s difficult to convince someone they need something (and to pay high rates) if they’re not already doing that,” said Deb.For example, if a company has no existing email list, it’s going to be hard to convince them that they need to pay you $200 per email.But, if they do have an email list, and they’re just not using it to its full extent, they might be more willing to pay a professional rate for email writing services.
  4. How easily can you locate your target market?If you can’t find people to market to (just by Googling or through connections on LinkedIn), it’s going to be difficult to find clients in this niche.

Go To The Market

Once you’ve chosen a few niches, and you’ve done your background research on them with these questions, then it’s time to go to the market.

“Go out to the market and see how the market responds to me and my message,” said Deb.

You need to start talking to people in these industries.

Start researching some potential clients in each of the different niches that you are interested in (narrow it down to a handful — maybe 3 to 5 industries to start).

Find businesses you think you can help in each of these industries.

Then, start contacting them.

You can send emails and try to schedule discovery calls with business owners in each of the different niches you’re interested in.

You can find people on LinkedIn and try to connect with them and send messages through there.

You can also find Facebook groups for these different industries, listen to what people are saying in the groups, offer help on people’s posts, and try to connect with people in those groups.

But, ultimately, you need to get out into the market and see how people respond to you and how you can help them.

Once you start talking to real-live humans in the industries you want to work in, you’ll really be able to figure out if that niche is for you.

You’ll hear their pains, their struggles, their challenges.

You’ll be able to figure out if those are actually problems you think you can solve.

And, you’ll see if they’re willing to pay you (at the rate you want) to help them.

You’ll also be able to figure out if you even like working for them at all.

Talk to potential clients in each of the niches. See if you think that industry is going to work out for you.

Can you help them?

Do they want you to help them?

Are they willing to pay you the rate you want?

Do you like working for them?

If the answer to all of these questions is yes, then, keep going.

If not, try out another one, until you find that perfect freelance writing niche.


Wrap Up

Deb, Susan, and the rest of the No Pants Project students have all learned that it’s better to niche down as a freelance writer for the following reasons:

  1. You can be paid more! And who doesn’t want that??
  2. If you don’t care, it shows. Your work will suffer if you’re trying to write about topics you don’t have an interest in (like that brown roof you know nothing about!).
  3. You can prove yourself more easily to new clients. Showing amazing results you’ve gotten from a past client who’s in the same industry as the potential client you’re talking to can really help you land that new work!
  4. You can save time. You don’t have to do a bunch of new research each time you start a new project if you stick to the same niche.
  5. You have a good excuse to read more on a topic you love. Your “fun” reading can be same as your “research” reading!

To find that perfect niche, write down some topic areas that you love, are passionate about, or already have an interest in.

Do some research. Figure out if you think you can help them with the writing that you do.

Then, go to the market!

Talk to them. Listen to them. See how you can help, and if you connect with them.

If not, try again with a different industry.


Watch The Full Video

Need More Help?

Within The No Pants Project Coaching Program, we dive deep into finding your Superpower, finding your niche, and finding clients in that market.

If you’d like to join us: www.thenopantsproject.com.