How are we doing, good people? This week’s blog post is a guest post from Daniel, a good friend of mine. Daniel Ongera is one of the few bitcoin enthusiasts that I know of and he sure does know his stuff. Today, he writes about the importance of choosing a niche. Read on!
Are you a freelance writer who is tired of content mills? Do you want better deals than the paltry $5 or $10 per an article? Trust me, you can command expert rates even if your writing skills aren’t that good – yet. It is even possible for a client to pay you top dollar and assign an editor to clean your content of grammatical and structural errors.
I’ve had clients severally tell me, “Daniel, your writing is horrible, but guess what, I will hire you. You have deep knowledge of the industry in which my business operates.” What’s more, they choose me over expert native writers.
Yes, the secret is picking a niche and sticking with it until you are the subject matter expert.
“Information from a recognized authority can provide us a valuable shortcut for deciding how to act in a situation.” Robert B. Cialdini
Don’t get me wrong; never stop working towards being an engaging, delighting and inspiring freelance writer. Nothing will replace stellar writing skills in your pursuit to get better paying gigs. My point, however, is that being a domain expert significantly improves your value as a writer.
I didn’t know this until two years ago.
When I started out as a freelance writer on Upwork, I took up any job that was available to me, and they weren’t many. I had to struggle a lot to convince clients that I was a good fit for their projects. When I managed to get hired, I wasn’t paid much. That’s because the value I gave didn’t justify higher rates. Meanwhile, I believed that the more topics I could write about, the more chances I had to get hired.
I was wrong.
Be An Entrepreneur
The reason I missed this fact at the beginning was because I didn’t treat my freelancing gig as an entrepreneurship. I worked with the employee mentality; I get hired, and the employer gets to decide what I do as long as he or she pays.
In fact, this was against what I had learned a few years earlier. In 2012 I was privileged to be one of the top 100 national finalists of a business plan competition that Safaricom Foundation and International Labor Organization (ILO) organized in Kenya. Out of it, I got a membership to Enablis, a Canadian non-governmental organization that supports entrepreneurship around the world.
I was assigned a business coach for one year. Nabeel Hassanali, an executive advisor and management consultant, was very patient with me as I struggled to define the market for the business idea I had pitched at the competition. In the end, the idea failed. However, I learned a lot from Mr. Hassanali, and one of those was the importance of defining and sticking to a market niche.
The moment I started treating my freelance writing as a business, I went back to these lessons. Indeed, I have come to appreciate that there is no other career where picking a niche is more important than in writing. What makes an article, for instance, unique and interesting isn’t the proper use of the language, even though that matters too.
What makes an article unique and interesting is its depth and specificity. It is the detailed nuances that make much of the difference. While readers don’t consciously analyze your content for this kind of quality, subconsciously they can tell if you are grounded on the facts you put down.
“Success is the sum of details.” Harvey Firestone
However, as a writer, you can only nail nuances in a topic if you are exposed it for a long time. You need to read as many books about the subject as you can, read industry magazines frequently to understand the trends, and be in forums where players discuss these trends. All these will give you a knowledge backdrop that you won’t get from quick searches on Google.
One person who has explained the importance of picking a niche very well is John Lee Dumas, an entrepreneur, and podcaster. In one guest podcast on Lewis Howes’ The School of Greatness series, he equates working without a niche as digging a mile wide and going an inch deep. Meanwhile, he sees having a niche as digging an inch wide and going miles deep.
“Niche down until you find silence. Not on the consuming side, but on the producing side.” John Lee Dumas
Take a moment to listen to John Lee Dumas’ podcast here. It is worth your time.
Be An Authority
Even more, as an expert writer in a given area, you become an authority. According to Robert B. Cialdini’s book The Psychology Influence of Persuasion, if you are an authority people tend to take what you write more seriously. That means clients won’t feel cheated paying you more than what they pay a non-expert, even when your quality of writing is the same.
I have also learned that when you choose a niche, you can connect and network with people who can offer you even more opportunities. I have received job offers on LinkedIn, Twitter and even Facebook.
How do you select a niche? Start with looking at your passion, hobbies, and even training. If, for example, you are somehow obsessed with a gym routine, writing about fitness as a niche might not be a bad idea. If you watch a lot of movies, you may find writing movie and TV reviews interesting. If you’ve worked as a banker, you might be very successful writing about investment.
“Life should be lived passionately. Otherwise, you’re playing another person’s game.” Lewis Howes
Whatever the case, if you are a freelance writer and you’ve been struggling to get a break, I recommend you try being an authority in one particular area. It has worked for me; I don’t see why it can’t work for you.
Daniel Nyairo is a top rated freelancer on Upwork. Get amazing tips and tricks on freelance writing from Daniel’s blog: www.thecopywiz.com