Seven Ways to Carve Out Your Niche as a Freelance Writer
As a freelance writer, would you rather use a wide-angle-lens approach to clients
and editors (all things to all people) or a telephoto (focus on one subject or
genre)? Let's say you want to find your special niche. Where would you start?
Here are seven suggestions:
There are many advantages to being known as a specialist in a particular subject
or an industry, especially when that business segment is "hot." One is your
marketability. While clients are often willing to invest in letting you learn on
the job, they would much prefer to hire a writer who knows their business. The ideal,
of course, is to keep building on what you have learned and eventually to be
considered an extension of the client's staff.
2. Marketing Communications
Marketing communications are all of the ways in which an organization communicates
the right message to the right audience through the right media. Successful marketing
communications begin with a well-conceived plan that includes a number of areas.
Ideally, these areas complement each other and work together to produce a cohesive
program. The most common vehicles are public relations (PR), advertising, direct mail,
special events, point-of-purchase displays, packaging, and premiums.
3. Financial Communications
Finance has its own language based on fundamental concepts. Financial communications
and investor relations are two different sides of a coin. If you opt for investor
relations, you must not only know the language; you must also be able to apply it to
a specific industry or organization. While you can learn many aspects of financial
communications by the book, communicating with Wall Street requires a command of the
facts, scrupulous honesty, and an understanding of industry trends.
4. Direct Mail
Direct mail has a purpose, and that purpose is to sell something. High-quality,
effective direct mail is a blend of art and science. What distinguishes effective
direct mail from trash? Knowledge of the medium and the target market, a well-researched
and coded list, good writing and design, and a method for assessing and evaluating
the results. Direct mail has to grab the attention of the recipient immediately and
sufficiently to prompt that person to open and read it. Part of the lure, of course,
is the design of the piece. Your words may be spectacular, but if no one is moved to
read them, they are meaningless.
5. Technical Writing
Technical writing requires the ability to grasp technical subject matter, apply the
principles of research and writing to any subject, and write in clear, concise language.
Understanding a subject is half the battle; being able to help someone else understand
it is the other half. That someone else may be well versed in the subject and expect
the material to be in technical language, or he or she may be a layperson who needs
jargon translated into plain English. As a technical writer, you have to be able to both.