How Finding Your Copywriting Niche Will Make You an In-Demand Writer
There are just a handful of things that can increase your demand – and how often you get hired – as a writer.
One – perhaps the most obvious – is becoming a better writer. And that's what you and I work to do when we go through another AWAI program, read articles in these e-newsletters, and read more books on writing. Plus practice – lots and lots of practice.
Another – sometimes less obvious – is being good to work with. I like to emphasize this because being good to work with can get you in the door with even okay writing. And it can keep your schedule full, too. Because people like working with people who are good to work with.
Yet neither of those are what I want to talk to you about today.
Instead I'd like to share my recent epiphany. An epiphany about what to do – and how to do it – to …
Become In Demand With Your Ideal Clients!
This epiphany happened to me at this year's AWAI Bootcamp – but you don't have to have gone to Bootcamp for this to apply to you and your copywriting career. In fact, this applies to you whether you're just getting started in your spare time, or if you're an old-hat veteran who's been at this for decades. Whether you've ever been to Bootcamp or a similar live event – or not.
This epiphany can help you:
- Get work from the exact clients you want to work with
- Get paid more for your work
- And be constantly in demand!
(And I'm not the only one who's had this epiphany, either. After I've told you my story, I'll introduce you to someone else who's had a similar epiphany – and tell you a little bit about the effect it's had on her copywriting business. And our stories are just two of thousands.)
Here's My Story
At last year's Bootcamp, I wanted nothing more than to get in the door with financial publishers.
I know, I know. It's a big, highly-competitive copywriting niche. And I'd be going up against many of the top copywriters in the country. It's not for everybody, I'm aware. But my epiphany applies just as much to every other industry as it does to financial publishers.
So at last year's Bootcamp, I went from financial publisher to financial publisher at Job Fair, introducing myself to everyone and trying to get my foot in the door.
Unfortunately, nothing came of it. Nothing. No call-backs. No jobs. No nothing.
It wasn't clear to me why until this year. Let me explain …
This Is Where I'd Failed Before …
You see, I made my break to full-time freelance in February of this year. And I'd been pretty successful out of the gate. I'd done work with AWAI, Nightingale-Conant, Brian Tracy, and others … I was kind of bouncing around, though – without real direction or a definition of who I was as a copywriter.
Yet I was managing to match my income from my previous full-time job, while working less hours. So I wasn't hurting.
Except it hurt that I still hadn't gotten in with the financial publishers I really wanted to be working with. And I'd been having some copywriting successes, so I was convinced my writing wasn't the real problem.
Though every time I approached one of the financial clients I wanted to start working with, I got the same answer. "Can I see some samples? No, I mean – financial samples … "
They didn't want someone who was drifting around as a copywriter – who hadn't found a groove and defined themselves as working within a niche. They assume – and I think, rightly so – that the learning curve is too big for drifters just looking for their next gig. And so smart financial publishers avoid hiring drifters.
It Was A Catch-22
I didn't have any samples because I couldn't get work in the niche. I couldn't get work in the niche because I didn't have any samples. I looked like a drifter – even though it'd been my goal for about two years to break into the niche.
What was I to do? Well, mid-summer I realized there were 90 days until this year's Bootcamp – which also meant it'd been nine full months since I met a bunch of my ideal financial publishing clients at Bootcamp last year.
Yet I still had nothing to show for it.
So I decided then and there I was going to make it happen. I was going to break into the financial publishing niche. And I was going to do what I needed to do to make it happen.
Actually, my goal was a bit bigger than that. I emailed a bunch of friends and colleagues of mine – Rebecca Matter, Lori Haller, Henry Bingaman, and others – and told them my goal …
"I'm going to write a financial CONTROL in the 90 days before Bootcamp!"
Why did I email a bunch of other people my goal? Well, because I wanted to be accountable. I knew each of these people would be at Bootcamp this year to check me on my status. And even if they didn't bring it up, I was going to feel accountable because I told them it was something I was going to do. So I'd better make it happen. And because it was time-bound, I had to get to work immediately.
That's when I really put my thinking cap on. What was it going to take? Well, first, I was going to have to get a client to work with. So I was going to have to overcome that big hurdle of not having samples within the industry.
So one day shortly afterwards, I saw that an awesome potential client was running an ad on DirectResponseJobs.com looking for freelance financial copywriters. They were open to spec assignments – and even working with a writer new to the financial industry who showed promise with a spec headline and lead.
I Had To Set My Ego Aside
I hadn't done a spec assignment in a couple of years. "I don't work for free." That was my attitude. Still is – it's a good attitude to take when you need to feed your family. BUT I knew if I wanted to get into this new copywriting niche, I was going to have to do what it would take.
So I bit the bullet and submitted my spec. (Maybe if I'd have done a spec or two after last year's Bootcamp, I would've already been working with the financial publishers!) The client liked my writing on the first headline and lead … but weren't comfortable with the angle I was taking. Though, because I wanted to work with them and was eager to listen and adapt my message, they asked me to write another headline and lead.
They gave me a contract to write my first full financial promo! I don't remember the exact timeline, but I think this was about 60 days until Bootcamp.
Okay, so I was on track to meet my goal of writing my first financial control by Bootcamp. I had 60 days to get this thing written and out the door. So I went to work. We went back and forth on draft after draft, honing the message to perfection through multiple rounds of peer review and revision. (It takes real WORK sometimes to write great copy!)
But then finally – over those 60 days or so before Bootcamp – the promo worked its way through the process and … just before Bootcamp … it launched to the public.
And not only that – it's become the control!
This meant – as I walked into Job Fair at this year's Bootcamp – that I could say …
"Yes, I've written a financial promo. I'm part of your niche."
And what happened next was interesting …
All of a sudden, I had an "in" with the financial publisher clients I wanted to work with. Now that I'm in their industry, it gives me credibility to do projects with them. In fact, because I'd done that one promotion, they were taking me seriously enough that they wanted to snag me up for work!
After Bootcamp I'm now in communication with nine separate ideal financial publishing clients … and booked $16,000 in projects with financial publishers within the two weeks after getting home. (And that doesn't even include the royalties – or the extra $10K of work I have from AWAI for being the $10K Challenge winner!)
I even have ideal clients wanting to lock me in on an ongoing basis – putting multiple projects on a single contract!
Simply because I …
- Made the decision to start working in the niche, whatever it would take
- Broke my own rule and took a spec assignment to get in the door
- Proved that I could do work in the niche
It was a matter of focusing – no longer floating around – and then doing what it took to start moving in the direction I wanted to move in.
I Had To Pick A Niche And Move Forward
And that's my epiphany – that's when the magic started to happen. I needed to pick a niche and break into it.
(Sounds simple, and it is. Simply powerful.)
Because I've now broken into the niche, I can now call myself a financial copywriter. And now that I'm a financial copywriter, I can get clients in the niche. In fact, because I'm now positioned as a financial copywriter, it's easier for me to …
- Get work from the exact clients I want to work with
- Get paid more for my work
- And be constantly in demand!
Notice these are the exact things I promised you above.
And it took finding the right niche for me – and doing what it would take to get started in this niche – to accomplish exactly what I wanted from my copywriting.
This Works In Any Industry
You don't have to be in the financial niche to have this work for you.
In fact … Many other niches have much lower barriers to entry. (Like any niche where there's no such thing as a "control!") Yet breaking into a specific niche and making a name for yourself has the same benefits of getting you in with ideal clients, getting paid more, and being constantly in demand.
Take, for example, my friend and colleague Pam Foster. Pam had worked for a long time to establish herself as a competent, professional copywriter in the realm of web content for SEO and conversion. And she's good at what she does. She understands the multiple roles web copy has to play to not only attract traffic, but to also make sales. She can lift a website's search engine ranking and conversion rate at the same time.
Yet she'd found a bit of a ceiling. You see, there are tons of people who do web content, SEO, and high-conversion web copy. These are pretty generic services. So she'd go through periods of ups and downs, and always have to be on the hunt for new work.
Pam's "Niche" Transition
Then she had an idea. She's had a long-time passion for pets. She recognized that the pet industry is huge – with plenty of companies selling pet-related products and services. Yet nobody had targeted these booming businesses with Pam's set of copywriting and marketing skills.
So she laser-focused from generic web marketing into web marketing for pet companies. And all of a sudden she was …
- Getting work from the exact clients she wants to work with
- Getting paid more for her work
- And finding herself constantly in demand!
(Notice the trend here?)
In fact, once Pam focused her copywriting and marketing business to a specific niche, she landed 7 ideal clients in 7 weeks … Including landing an initial contract with a new client in the neighborhood of $30,000!
Here's how Pam describes the change that finding a niche has made …
"First, I started getting approached by marketers from fantastic companies I didn’t even know existed (I no longer had to 'chase' clients). Even better? I started landing lucrative, interesting projects with clients who could possibly need my help for months or even years."
Best yet, Pam picked a niche that didn't require her to write a control or anything of the sort to get into it. She picked one of the hundreds of niches that just need good web content and marketing created on a regular basis. So although she'd done a little bit in the industry before, all she really had to do was focus her sales message to these ideal clients and hang out her shingle … And start growing her copywriting business!
And she's had a steady stream of clients ever since!
It's Clear: It Pays To "Niche Yourself"
Here's the moral of today's stories.
If you're looking to become an in-demand writer – to work with your ideal clients, get paid what you're worth, and keep a schedule full of work – find a niche and do what it takes to define yourself as working in the niche. Dive in and get started.
It's working for me. It worked for Pam. It's worked for thousands of copywriters before us. And it can work for you.
How to Choose Your Writing Niche: Your Step-by-Step Blueprint for Finding a Niche that’s Right for You
Need to pick a niche for your freelance business? Learn how to do it once and for all, and watch your business grow. Learn More »