What I Learned About Specializing From the “Queen of QVC”

Christina Gillick here.

When I first started freelancing, I thought I had to know EVERYTHING about writing and marketing.

The worst part was I couldn’t keep up with all the information coming at me. I thought I would never learn enough.

But then, I decided to just go for it – even though I didn’t feel “ready” yet.

I started small with articles. Once I felt confident with that, I started taking on email projects. Now I’m writing sales letters, but I’m still a long way from knowing everything about copywriting.

While watching the TV show “Shark Tank” last week, I learned that’s okay!

On the show, “the Sharks” are accomplished business people in their respective fields. They listen to offers from aspiring entrepreneurs who need investments from the Sharks.

Sometimes the Sharks fight over an investment, sometimes none of them want to take the risk. (I’ve learned a lot about business and marketing just from watching this show.)

But, here’s the big lesson: each Shark has their own specialty, and they rarely even talk about a deal outside their specialty.

For instance, Lori Greiner has been called the “Queen of QVC" which is a televised home shopping network. If an inventor comes on the show that has something she thinks would sell on QVC, she fights for it – and usually wins!

But, if the product isn't right for QVC, she has no problem saying, “This is outside my area of expertise. I wouldn’t be able to help you. I’m out.”

If she can do it, so can us as freelancers. I'm talking about specializing.

Once you've specialized, there’s no shame in saying, “I don’t know that. I can’t help you” if someone offers you a project outside your area of expertise. (But, you could get brownie points by referring them to someone who can help them.)

Tomorrow we’ll talk more about specializing (and how it’s not the same thing as choosing a niche.)

Also, later this week, we’ll talk about the easiest type of project you can specialize in right now. (If you don’t want to wait, click here.)

So, how about you? What is your specialty? Or what are you considering? Comment here to let us know.

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Published: April 22, 2013

8 Responses to “What I Learned About Specializing From the “Queen of QVC””

  1. Hello Christina. You are right, it's impossible to learn it all at once. And it does take time to learn 1 thing well. Many new writers, including myself, feel that unless they are 100% 'ready' they won't start. But, freelancing is a process that requires constant learning. We just have to start somewhere. And go from there. I decided to dive into B2B market. I would like to specialize in white papers eventually, but i'm going to start with easier projects.

    Sasha SApril 22, 2013 at 9:57 am

  2. My specialty is the alternative health market. I highly recommend specializing in a niche for two reasons: (1) You become an "expert" in that niche. That enables you to write better - and faster. (2) You get to know the big players in the niche - and they get to know YOU. That makes it easier to develop a reputation for delivering great copy - and before you know it, clients are begging you to work for them.

    It's a win-win!

    Guest (Deanna Blanchard)April 22, 2013 at 12:43 pm

  3. Nice! Too often, I try to be "all things to all peeps", wanting to keep everyone happy.

    But, ultimately ends in frustration.

    Look around at who is making the money...a general family doctor...or the specialist.

    Don

    Guest (Don Kowalski)April 22, 2013 at 1:10 pm

  4. My specialty is how-to-learn-quickly. Two areas: long-term memory & speed reading. It zeros-in for students from age 10 to Grad-School, and executives the rest of us.

    Brainiacs ask four questions of us.
    1. What's the Deal? 2. How much? 3.
    What's In it For Me? 4. Why should I believe YOU?

    We helped graduate 2-million, including the White House staffs of four U.S.
    Presidents.

    Any questions: hbw@speedlearning.org

    Guest (Hal Wechsler)April 22, 2013 at 1:28 pm

  5. I have written dozens of environmental assessments, development plans and strategies as a consultant. I started freelancing 6 months ago mostly doing website content, canned e-mails, press releases and some copy. I have recently joined AWAI and am trying to re-focus. White papers could be the center piece to a B2B "Niche" adding Press Releases and Auto respond E-mails. I would like to look at some training options to help me refocus. I could really use some direction of packaging skills.Any tips

    Sam EdgeApril 22, 2013 at 3:48 pm

  6. I decided to niche in the alternative health field because that's what I've been reading and passionate about for years.
    Then I started thinking that's too vague. I need to concentrate on something in that field, either diet, vitamin, cooking from scratch, making your own fermented food, growing your own sprouts, eating organics, writing healthy recipes, talking about different way to exercise, talking about how to stay healthy at 60. There is actually a sub niche in that niche.

    Carmen SApril 22, 2013 at 7:56 pm

  7. Great article, and I think it makes sense to consider both a specialty and a niche. I guess the question I (and others it seems) am left with is really how to weigh the two for a balance and focus that makes sense. For example, I've wondered about focusing on edu-marketing materials (case studies, articles, white papers, and newsletters)for a particular field, but it seems that could potentially still be too broad.

    MarshaFJuly 6, 2013 at 6:26 pm

  8. Thank you for the GREAT comments everyone!

    Sorry I'm so slow to reply. If you ever want to find me online, please try here: twitter.com/chrisgillick

    Christina GillickOctober 26, 2013 at 5:10 pm


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