It’s no secret that my writing voice is a bit different from my speaking voice. Notably, I’m a fan of tangents when I talk, but rarely find them appropriate in text.
In written content, my philosophy is: “Get to the point.” In speech, it’s: “Let’s uncover deeper guidance.”
So, if you ask me a question during a Copyblogger Pro AMA, you might get a more long-winded answer than you expected. 😉
That’s what happened in September when I chimed in on the topic of choosing a niche.
Writing samples 101
After Brian, Tim, and Darrell gave eloquent advice about how to decide on a niche for your business, I was reminded of the dangers of choosing the wrong niche … or not choosing a niche at all.
There’s a stage of every writer’s development where they take any type of paid work that comes their way, but writers who want sustainable and meaningful careers direct themselves out of this period as quickly as possible.
By selecting the type of writing work they want to do and building a portfolio of writing samples that demonstrate their voice, expertise, and ability to produce results-driven content.
When you don’t have a specialty, it’s typically more difficult to charge competitive rates and qualify for high-quality assignments.
However, it’s still possible to get by. The reason why many writers without specialties end up quitting has nothing to do with making money.
There’s enough work to keep busy, but they’re not passionate about the subjects they have to write about and their skills aren’t fully utilized. They lose the joy that writing once brought them. It’s now boring and draining — and there aren’t enough inspirational quotes for writers in the world to keep them motivated.
Making money doing something else starts to sound appealing because writing can then return to being a fun, rewarding activity.
If you want to avoid this scenario, think about how you want to position yourself long-term, not just the low-hanging-writing-job fruit in the present moment.
Specialize and differentiate
Here’s a partial quote from Brian during that session, to bring my tangent about why writers quit back to the original topic of choosing a niche:
“If you’re going to stick with this, you need to choose something you’re genuinely interested in, and that also is an opportunity to make money. … Don’t go looking for something where there’s no competition. You want plenty of competition. Then you come in, differentiate yourself, and win.” – Brian Clark
A writer who is a subject-matter expert regularly gets to explore and grow. A writer who “puts words on a page” will feel drained and limited.