I’m a freelance content marketer and I am extremely niche.
Some people see this as a bad thing. They think it narrows your potential client base and reduces income opportunities.
While the former is true, the latter couldn’t be further from the truth.
I find that a lot of people don't understand what niche actually means. Maybe that’s where the problem lies.
I only work with unified communications and contact center vendors because I have 10 years of experience on the product side. That means I have an advantage over 10,000s of marketers when it comes to knowing the products, audience, pain points, and inner workings.
In this article, I share five tips that I shared in the Superpath Slack group when asked for my best advice when it comes to choosing a niche.
Before that, let’s spend a little time dispelling some myths about freelancing.
A smaller client pool than the rest of the world, sure.
It might seem scary at first. But narrowing down your client pool is a good thing.
When you focus on one industry, type of work, or subset of that work, you become an expert in this particular area.
For example, I write about unified comms and contact centers. Almost exclusively.
My customers are unified comms providers like Cisco and contact center providers like Nextiva.
With 13 years of experience working with and writing for these vendors, do you think they prefer hiring generalist writers who don’t know about their tech, audience, or brand?
They want to find and hire someone who’s been there, done that, and bought the t-shirt.
And they’ll pay more for it.
Assuming you don’t choose something super niche that has two potential customers fighting against each other (I can’t think of any of these and I’ve spent a long time doing so), there’s no such thing as too niche. And you don’t need to worry about having a client pool too small.
Also, just because I operate in the unified comms and contact center space, it doesn’t mean I can’t write for anyone else.
This year (2022) alone, I’ve written for Semrush, Logo.com, and Better Proposals.
And, hey, here I am writing for Superpath!
Smaller pool = less chance of income?
Smaller pool = higher chance of being hired in that pool.
Add to that the tailored portfolio you have built or are building.
You have a custom batch of work ready to showcase to your potential customers.
Here’s a scenario I find myself in all the time. Sometimes I’m the hirer and sometimes I’m the hiree.
“Please can you send a sample of your work for me to review?”
“Sure, here’s something I wrote that ranks #1 on Google for your top competitor. How about we do the same for you?”
It doesn’t have to be that forward but you get the point.
And it’s sure better than this…
“Please can you send a sample of your work for me to review? Ideally, it’s relevant to our audience and showcases you know the tech we work with.”
“Sorry, all I have is this generic post about blah blah blah.”
The first example gets me hired every single time.
The second example is from my real life where I get pitched by 100s of writers a year who know nothing about the topics, tech, industry, problems, audience, or pretty much anything I write about.
Yes, everybody has to start somewhere. And if this is the start of your niche process, make sure your answer reflects that.
If you’re going through the process of narrowing your niche here are five tips to nail it.
When Jimmy Daly calls you out to answer a question, you bet I’m going to town.
Disclaimer: My process was ready-made for me. I have 10 years of experience in the product side of things so maybe I'm not the best person to comment on choosing from the beginning. If I was to start again, these would be my tips.
You gotta get paid, right?
If you’re at the point in your career where you’re choosing your niche, you might as well make it a well-paid one.
If products or solutions are high-ticket, the marketing efforts behind them must be high-ticket too.
Some of my clients sell packages to enterprises worth millions per year.
They know a $100 copywriter likely won’t produce the same results as a $1,000 copywriter with years of experience in their niche.
Finding an industry where the marketing efforts reflect what’s being sold is key if you want to earn great money as a freelancer.
And not just great money today.
Think about whether the products and service will:
If you don’t consider this, you might get a big paycheck for two years then have to start all over again.
You only have to look as far as the crypto marketers who were making lots of money in Ethereum and Bitcoin, only for the market to crash and work to dry up.
Sure, it might come back, but what are they doing right now?
Reading this post? 🤔
There are only so many ways to write how great a client's email automation software is, for example.
You’re still just sending emails.
If this is your thing, though, you could branch out into other types of automation software. Becoming an automation specialist opens the door to tons of opportunities.
The same is true for almost any industry.
Start by writing a list of what you get excited to write about.
Remove the bias of what you actually write about and note down what you’d like to write about.
This might be a type of work rather than an industry too. Joel Klettke, for example, excels in (and I assume enjoys) writing B2B case studies. So that’s the niche Joel has chosen.
When you’ve got a list of five things, note down five potential customers.
You’ve started narrowing your niche already.
Are industry analysts, commentators, or readers going to share my work or collaborate with me (or is it a closed-off and stuffy industry)?
Maybe this one is just an ego boost. But it also helps build your personal brand.
If other industry folk enjoy your content, they might one day hire you.
Since becoming a marketer for unified comms companies, I’ve started my business, UC Marketing. I was known as “the UC marketer” in the industry so it made sense to name my business this.
It also embeds me firmly within my niche. And I do so because it’s rewarding.
When people enjoy my content, they share it. They reach out to say well done. They recommend me when others need help with marketing.
Choose a niche that triggers a positive emotion when you deliver your output.
It could be a blog post, an infographic, or custom code. Just make sure it’s rewarding.
Saheed Hassan, a fellow freelance writer, posed me this question the day before I started writing this post.
“Forget your current clients—let’s assume you’re just starting. Of course, you’ve got some samples in your portfolio—how will you raise $3k before month end?”
My answer here is to choose a niche you’re proficient in.
That doesn’t mean you know how to use a laptop so you become a laptop reviewer. But it might mean you have an engineering degree so you choose manufacturing and welding as your bespoke topic set.
My biggest advice to freelancers looking to find their niche is:
Write about what you know.
If you’re not a writer, adjust that phrase slightly.
That’s not just how I became a high-paid freelance marketer, it’s why I became a high-paid freelance marketer.
I have 10 years of experience working with the products and customers that I now provide marketing services for.
This means I don’t have to learn something new every time I pitch or land a client. And it means I lean on my first-hand experience and knowledge to produce high-quality content in a quicker turnaround time.
The benefit of that?
I can slot in more work (or have time off)! And I can charge a higher rate because I know the value I offer my clients.
When choosing your niche, write about what you know, folks.
While I advocate choosing a niche where you’re a subject matter expert (or at least a subject matter intermediate), I’m a forever learner.
What does that mean, then?
A forever learner is someone who values continuous learning.
Learning didn’t end at college for me.
In my career, I’ve picked up the following formal and informal qualifications:
I’ve read 100+ books on business, writing, and marketing.
I’ve also learned about 100+ products with 1,000+ features in my industry. And I’ve met new audiences that include small businesses, mid-size businesses, enterprises, frontline workforces, desk-based workers, IT admins, CEOs, CTOs, C-everything-Os, mobile workers, consultants, and plenty more.
The combination of these, driven by my desire to be the best in my niche, means I make sure I’m always learning something because my niche is always evolving.
If my chosen niche was stagnant, I would be too.
My parting advice is the very first thing you should do…
Start by writing a list of what you get excited to write about.
(Or code, design, strategize, etc.)
And do it by hand.
Switch off from the online world and spend some time working out where you fit.
You can trust me; I’m a freelance content marketer and I am extremely niche.