In a conversation with a fellow freelancer recently, we ended up discussing the impact that certain decisions made by a writer could have not only on their freelance career, but also on their general outlook on life.
A lot of focus in this business is put on finding a niche, a specific area or two where you can position yourself as an expert and use the sum of your experience to work with clients who need writers with a certain level of experience in a given domain.
I myself have been able to carve out a few niches where I am able to enjoy a steady stream of work from clients and publications, most notably in the fields of music, cars and business writing. These form part of my core business, and I consider these topics to be not only my bread and butter but also quite enjoyable to write about.
However, some of my most interesting projects and clients have come from far outside these three spheres. I have a wide range of personal interests, ranging from obscure movie trivia to space travel to workplace safety and ergonomic research. What I am trying to say is that there are always new ideas and topics to write about that catch my eye and often leave me thinking “if only I knew of a client who required an article of two about X or Y.” On occasion, I will be able to turn this fantasy into reality, either by pitching a story idea to a potential buyer or by finding a client whose writing needs dovetail with my current interests.
Then there are the times when I see a project that just seems too interesting to pass up, despite it being outside the realm of what I normally cover. Sometimes I am approached by a longtime client asking if they can refer me to a colleague who has a unique proposition for me, or I see an interesting job posting that I simply can’t resist and I go in cold and make my best proposal.
Certainly, the research that goes into this type of writing is more in-depth than what I normally must do, as it stretches me outside of my comfort zone, but that is precisely the point, and brings me back to the conversation I alluded to at the beginning of this post.
It can be easy to stay inside the same niche for years and never have to stretch as a writer, churning out the same type of work – high quality, of course – but never taking a break to occasionally explore other opportunities. I feel that one of the most important decisions a writer can consciously make when building their freelance business is not being afraid to say “Yes” to new opportunities when they present themselves.
Sure, you might not have ever written extensively about travel, but after penning a detailed guide to your favourite vacation spot who is to say that you won’t discover just how much you love sharing your tips and tricks with fellow travelers? You may have never tackled in-depth reviews of products that you use every day, but once you get on a roll you might find that you have a knack for developing a brand’s identity and helping to shape the buying habits of consumers.
What I am trying to say is that saying “Yes” and taking the plunge into something new has the potential to open up new markets that you might not have been aware even existed. Adding one simple word to your subconscious vocabulary when reading a project description or writing a proposal for a potential new client can take the blinders off of your business and allow you to expand in profitable and enjoyable directions.