Saturday, August 23, 2008

Finding Your Niche: Walking the Tightrope

Reading over some comments from a previous post, I've noticed that there's some confusion out there surrounding finding marketable niches. I've definitely had the same problem: I want to focus on web content and copy, but I don't want to turn away clients looking for brochures, resume rewrites, editing, video scripts, and all sorts of other fun projects. I want to build a business brand that encourages a certain type of project, but I don't want to turn away other projects.

This isn't that organized, but here are a few thoughts I have on the balance between developing a profitable niche and avoiding turning away other work.

Don't actually turn away work until you're really established. There's really no point in turning away non-niche work unless you're doing so well in your niche that taking on an outside project means turning away a more lucrative, easier niche project. Your niche is supposed to make you money, not cost you.

Concentrate on your niche in your website. Experienced niche marketers will probably tell you that you should have a different website for each niche you're breaking into. I love writing web copy and am starting to build a website that focuses on that--but I'd also like to focus on scriptwriting for radio and online video in the future, and as soon as I've gotten enough credits in that I'll think about building another website that highlights my experience there. But while you're a still a generalist with specific tendencies--like me at the moment--it's okay to have just one website that features your niche, but still includes samples and services that are outside of that.

Market aggressively within your niche. There's no other way to become known in your niche than by putting yourself out there. Focus your marketing efforts on companies and projects within your niche. If a different type of project happens to come your way, no problem--don't turn it down, especially if you have the time to do it.

Develop a specialist network. Once you're established--and even before--it can be very beneficial to form a network with other writers who specialize in different things. Once your niche work starts rolling in, you can refer outside work to colleagues who specialize--and if they get offers for projects in your niche, they'll pass the business along to you.


Anonymous said...

All good points.

For myself, I definitely do NOT want to be in a niche -- I like moving between different kinds of protjects. But if you want a speciality, I think this is excellent advice.

Lady Retiree said...

I just discovered your blog a few days ago and have been enjoying reading the posts.

I have a question about the niche websites. I am a new freelance writer (my retirement career). Should I start out at the beginning with niche websites or just have one general site? If you had to do it over again, what would you do? Also, which website would be printed on your business cards? To help put it in perspective, I have a grand total of only 25 clips for clients although I have hundreds of articles on content mill websites (before I knew what they were). I do not have any website now nor have I formed a company.