Step Two in Making Forward Progress This Week
Yesterday, I made you a big promise …
I mentioned that I’d heard that AWAI members felt stuck on their journey to living the writer’s life. So I decided to make it my own personal mission to get them – and you, if you’re in the same boat – unstuck.
I’ve worked out a plan for you to follow. And every day this week in The Writer’s Life, I’m going to give you an action item I’d like you to complete.
My promise to you: stick with me all week and perform all 5 actions, and by the time you start your weekend, you’ll feel like you’ve made significant forward progress towards achieving your dreams.
Yesterday, we tackled the first step: choosing a path.
If you missed it, definitely catch up before proceeding with today’s issue.
Because to take the next step, you must know what path you’re going to take to the writer’s life. At this point, you should know if you’re going to start with copywriting, resume writing, internet research … whatever path suits you best.
Once you’ve chosen your path, it’s time to move on to the second step towards living the writer’s life: specializing.
Now, this topic confuses a lot of new writers (as well as some experienced writers). The words “specialty” and “niche” are thrown around quite a bit in this industry and often used interchangeably. Keep reading and that should clear up any confusion.
First, let’s talk about the reason you want to specialize …
When many writers start out, they cast their net really wide and are willing to take any job that comes their way. They think it’s the best way to start making money fast. But the truth is that you can’t be all things to all people as a copywriter. You’ll actually have a harder time finding work this way. And when you do find work, they’ll not only want to pay you less, you’ll also have to work harder because you’ll have to learn entirely new industries and markets for each assignment.
We have lots of great articles on the AWAI site about specializing and choosing a niche, including this one from Nick Usborne titled Why You Should Choose a Niche for Your Freelance Business, and How to Do It, which I recommend you read.
But here are the benefits of specializing in a nutshell:
- You’ll offer unique value to clients.
- You’ll have less competition from all the generic freelance writers out there willing to sell their services for cheap.
- It will be easier to market your services and identify new clients.
- You’ll be able to charge more for your services.
- You’ll be able to complete assignments more efficiently since you’ll be well versed in your particular area, which means the value of your time will also continue to increase.
Bottom line: specializing actually makes starting your business easier AND allows you to make more money faster.
Your action item for today is to figure out how you’re going to specialize.
Be it an industry niche or a project type … what will you focus your business on? What will make you different from all the “generalists” out there promoting themselves in your same field?
Now, keep in mind, that’s not to say you’re going to be stuck with this decision forever.
You are welcome to try out various niches and specialties, and can revise your businesses as you go.
But this week is about making forward progress. And it’s much easier to make real forward progress if you specialize, rather than trying to cast a wide net and having no focus whatsoever.
Just like with choosing a path, you shouldn’t overanalyze your decision. Follow Nick's guidelines, and you’ll be able to move forward.
As you saw earlier, most of the benefits of specializing have to do with marketing your services and making more money. So no matter what type of freelancer or writer you are, the same benefits can apply.
As a travel writer, you can develop a list of 10 to 15 destinations or travel activities you enjoy to specialize in so that you can actively research writing opportunities.
As an internet researcher, you can decide what industry niches you’d be interested in researching. Maybe you have a financial background and are very comfortable digging up financial facts. Or you really enjoy the health market and would prefer to sift through health data over anything else. Once you determine your focus, you’ll be able to start looking for financial or health copywriters and pitch your services.
Think of it from the perspective of a health copywriter working on a package he's getting paid $10K to write, plus a 2% royalty that has the potential to add six figures to his bottom line.
Would he rather hire an internet research who specializes in health research? Or a general internet researcher? If all other variables are considered even, whose research time would he value more?
Now, since copywriting is the path I typically recommend everyone start with, I want to go a bit more into detail on the ways to specialize because you have a few options.
First, you can specialize by industry niche. Your niche could be a large industry like health, finance, fundraising, self-help, etc.
Or it could be more specific like anti-aging, financial newsletters, political fundraising, or child safety. (Nick covers the benefits of being more specific in the article I mentioned above.)
You can also specialize by project type. Your “specialty” may be broad like web or B2B. Or it could be more specific like writing autoresponders, case studies, or white papers.
However, even if you choose a specialty, I still highly recommend you focus on an industry niche to start as well.
For example, you could be a writer who specializes in B2B copy in the food services industry.
Or an autoresponder and web content writer in the health industry.
Just like a good product, the more of a unique selling proposition (USP) you have, the easier you are to sell and the more your perceived value increases.
So how will you specialize? Just like with choosing a path, I don’t want you to worry about choosing the “wrong niche” or the “wrong specialty.”
You may find you want to change your mind down the line. Or you’ll want to add another niche or specialty to your services. And that’s totally okay!
The key to this week’s exercise is to make decisions and take action.
So tell me, how will you specialize? That’s your assignment for today.
And once you have your answer, I invite you to share it with me below.
The Professional Writers’ Alliance
At last, a professional organization that caters to the needs of direct-response industry writers. Find out how membership can change the course of your career. Learn More »