Freelance Writing Needs Defined
We must make freelance niche types fit our needs, wants, values and lifestyles, and we also must make ourselves fit freelance niche types. Of our waking hours, we work more than we do anything else. I keep this in mind when college students come to me concerned about what to do for a living, and I tell them (because I want them happy) to do what they love. I also tell them (because I believe in the truth) to do what they are good at.
The same goes for freelance writers. If we are talented, we have a chance. If we have a severe work ethic we have a better chance. And if we are devoted enough and relentless enough (and - ahem--masochistic enough) about writing for a living, we will be able to put on our vitaes that we are indeed professional writers. But in order to do and be so, we best find the freelance writing niche types or type we will be spectacular at, staking out a corner in the niche market, one which we'll bring passion to every morning as that damned alarm (later a wonderful thing) sounds.
From the Italian-derived French for nicchia, "a shell-like recess in a wall," a niche is an inset, concave enclosure. It is this little enclosure we freelance writers need to find, study, practice, and own. It is the small area of specialty we make ours and offer to those in need. So the smaller (and therefore the less competitive) the better.
We in the freelance writing business and those of us working to get into it have plenty of industries to work with:
- B2B (Business to Business)
- B2C (Business to Customer/Client)
- Publishing (online/offline)
- Real Estate
Niche Types Defined
And for every industry there are tens of freelance writing niche types:
- Creative Writing - I'll say again from my lofty loft of opinions that I believe all writing is creative, as it is generative. My point is affirmed when we look at all of the kinds of writing projects a creative freelancer can do or get into, from magazine articles about bushwackers and George Bush to books about needlepoint and pine cone needles and needling family members to-
- Ghost Writing- Ghost writing is a popular preferred choice of many clients, even those who have hung out a writer shingle (or banner) and outsource the assignments, collect them, pay us (hopefully well), and put their own names on the work, be it a booklet or a book, a piece of web copy or a piece of ad copy.
- Proposal and Business Plan Writing - For profit or not, businesses need writers to create proposals that show need and get that need satisfied - monetarily. As there is with all freelance writing niche types, with proposal and plan writing a freelancer has the skill sets and experience to prepare documents that will be convincing enough that if the client needs hot soup sold in hell the writer will be able to deliver. I have written two successful proposals and a number of grant proposal reports (that ensured continuation of the grant). They are somewhat interesting, but only to those writers with a particular finesse for a cross between technical and creative/dynamic writing.
- PR (Public Relations) Writing - PR writers do concept copy or concept to completion work in a number of media, writing ad copy, doing the layout, and designing such items as brochures, newsletters, press releases, media kits, and more, to achieve the ultimate goal for the client: name branding.
- Technical Writing - Involving everything technical, from professional, consumer, and user manuals to white papers, technical writing depends upon a writer's ability to organize, synchronize, structure, and develop the details of technical content.
- Web Content Writing - To meet the client's goals of web presence and online branding using highly trafficked, "sticky" websites/pages, the web content developer or producer writes what are known as KRPs - keyword-rich pages. This particular wave of freelance niche types was discovered (years ago) to be most beneficial as SEO, search-engine optimization, text (or content).
While I also specialize in mental health/disability writing and creative and memoir writing, web content development is one of my favorite freelance niche types. To get the keywordphrase keywordphrase keywordphrase construction clear, engaging, and entertaining while keeping it from doing a hideous grammatical/rhetorical pileup is a challenge I look forward to every morning.
Hey, it beats the alarm clock jangling, signaling the dread of having to punch a card at a factory or see the boss off to work so I can clean her toilets and scrub her floors. Of course, there's no shame in those jobs. I did them for years to get through grad school. But that's more to do with the other definition of niche: "the status of an organism within its environment/community, affecting its survival as a species."
And besides, I love writing so much, much more. It's a much better fit, one I wish for all of you who adore the writing process as much as I adore it.
N.H.-born prize-winning poet Roxanne McDonald is also a creative nonfiction writer, memoirist, and award-winning Assoc. Prof. of English.