A Low-Pressure Approach to Choosing Your Writing Niche

This week is all about getting your writing career off the ground once and for all. Which is why I’m sharing the five most important steps you can take to get the job done.

Yesterday I asked you to drop any preconceived notions about your writing ability. Going forward, practice your craft daily and you can become a well-paid writer regardless of your writing background.

Today, I want you to pick a writing direction you can stick with for three months. Either choose a specific niche in the world of copywriting, like gardening in the southwest or international aviation.

Or, pick a writing specialty. Decide whether you’re most interested in case studies, autoresponders, web copy, email newsletters, direct mail, blogging, white papers, etc.

I invite you to do this whether you’re new to the world of paid writing, or you’re looking to change your current writing focus, or you want to grow your business by adding a new revenue stream.

You might be thinking to yourself … “Not possible, Mindy. I’ve been stuck on this question for a solid six months now — how am I supposed to make the decision today?

Fair question. But I still want you to pick something. In fact, I dare you to pick something. Pick anything. Just take that first step.

Once you do — guess what? There’s NO WAY you’ll pick the wrong thing. And, I say that with complete confidence for two reasons:

  1. It doesn’t really matter where you start, as long as you start. Any project you attempt will give you experience. You’ll likely gain some kind of sample, plus a dose of confidence.
  2. Many clients don’t care where your experience lies. I’ve had clients hit me up for projects I’d never even considered, but they have faith in me because they view me as a professional based on my client list and samples.

    Granted, some clients do care about the specifics surrounding your writing skills, and you won’t get the highest fees in any specialty till you’ve gained experience in related projects.

    But, if you’re just getting started, or just now trying to make the leap to a new writing specialty, or perhaps you’re ready to add a new revenue stream to your business … anything goes. And everything counts.

To help you pick, try this low-pressure approach. Make a list of EVERYTHING you want to do and then prioritize. Prioritizing is like mental freedom for writers. It releases you from trying to wear 10 different hats at once, but it means you’ve still got those hats in your back pocket and you can put them on when the time is right.

Another way to choose your new writing focus is to check out job listings for writers, like those found at DirectResponseJobs.com and WealthyWebWriter.com. Take a gander, apply for the ones that interest you, and see who bites.

I spent nearly my entire first year as a freelancer writing SEO-enhanced editorial and basic five-page websites. Not because I was particularly entranced with either type of writing — rather, because those were the two clients who hired me first.

So, pick something. ANYTHING. And then tomorrow, we’re going to take a BIG (and important) step toward making your choice official.

(Tell me — what did you pick? I’ve always had a crush on white papers and case studies … so, if I had to pick a new direction right now, that’s what I’d go with.)

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Published: September 1, 2015

36 Responses to “A Low-Pressure Approach to Choosing Your Writing Niche”

  1. Hi Mindy. I've been educating myself on the Christian market, but keep hearing a whisper about whitepapers and case studies. I guess my 35+ years in IT--with all its seemingly sterile and cold logic--left a residual appreciation for analytical processes and conveying that to others. I'm still pondering ... maybe I can find a way to combine the heart and the mind!


  2. Well, Mindy, since you asked...

    I've decided on Web Copy and auto-responders as the "media niche,"and the travel/tourism industry here in Colorado Springs, CO as the "market niche."I have yet to do the research to verify that there is room for a top-drawer copywriter such as myself, but we'll soon see.

    Hope to be talking with you soon.


    Guest (Tom Coalson)

  3. I've been blogging for quite a while now but I want to branch out into EBooks. (starting Bob Bly's course now) I'd like to move into web copy, specifically about pages next. I can do it now, but I'd like to become known for ghost blogging and ebooks first even if in a small circle. MG

    Marie Gray

  4. Hi Mindy, after reading this email, I'm going to start a website on wix.com TODAY for high schoolers and college students daring them to "take their future seriously" if that are not already. I am currently unemployed and a tad discouraged with where I am. I have writing samples but no offers so although I'm a college graduate, I made some serious mistakes along the way and if I can help someone get on the ball I definitely want to. I really enjoyed this article. Thanks so much!

    Guest (Misha Miller)

  5. I am done thinking for now. I will go with your suggestion...white papers and case studies. Or do I have to pick between them? I am looking forward to the webinar tomorrow!


  6. Hi Mindy, the area I'm focusing on is health since this is where I have professional experience and interest. Most of the samples on my website are health related. I've had one client who is an acupuncturist and the other is my homeowners association. But, I have so many different interests, it's hard to focus on just one.

    Bridget Stoll

  7. I want to begin with writing for catalogs.

    Guest (Faye)

  8. I have always lived for the health and wellness topic area, so that is what I have decided to aim for since joining AWAI. I used to get a lot of assignments doing profiles of business start-ups, and at every opportunity, I would accept the ones that related to health and wellness. So in coming back to my freelance career and wanting to work online, I have been learning a lot about how to do that from the AWAI publications. Really want to do either content, case studies or newsletters!

    Guest (Linda)

  9. Today I picked E-Mail Autoresponders!

    Mary Vosika

  10. I feel most confident writing direct mail copy. At this stage of my studying I have no experience to base a choice on. I think subject wise the animal world would interest me immensely both domestic and wild animals.

    Guest (artistwife)

  11. So many choices, but I'm going with e-newsletters in health and wellness. Fitness has always been a passion of mine and newsletters are timely and fun to do.

    Guest (Julie)

  12. My big step is to concentrate on the Home and Community niche. I decided that a few weeks ago.

    Guest (Amy)

  13. For the next 3 months, I'm going to write about Einstein's relativity and how it will ultimately render grand unification. Not only on a spacetime continuum but mindfully bent on a destined singularity w/o which life can't evolve with meaning and purpose. Imagine time's forward arrow, for example, if it -- like motion itself -- were matched by a reactionary temporal onslaught like quantum time reversals. Synchronicities or deja vus, say. An interstitial recourse whence our being's become.

    Guest (Chris Morris)

  14. This post was timely and well received. I have been mucking about with writing and gathering info for over a year now and this month I said I would pick one thing to focus on. I have even been saying I am a freelance writer to get used to the idea. Since I have just completed the Email Newsletter training, I am going to focus on building my business that way. I'll be devouring anything I can find regarding getting set up in that aspect of the writing business. Now to have tunnel vision and avoid the other "shiny objects." Wish me luck ;)


  15. Well, if I had a crush on anything it would be blogging since its, for me, "safe" territory and then Paleo lifestyle and essential oils as the niche. Or health in general. I'm also interested in the thought of writing an e-book at some point.

    Kim Smyth

  16. Hi, Mindy. My first reponse is white papers. My degree is in Communication and the structure of white papers is very similar to the papers I wrote in college. And I LOVE writing essays!


  17. I chose White Papers and Client Case Studies. Choosing was the easy part; actually creating samples for my portfolio was pretty scary.

    With great advice from all of you I have almost completed a white paper(written for my own part-time small business).It was so much easier to approach,knowing that I did not have the pressure of doing the first one for a real client. Almost done, and then I'll offer someone a pro bono case study.

    www dot educatingyourcustomers dot com


    Alia Curtis

  18. Hi Mindy. I am interested in writing for the Christian market. I also would like to first try some blogging. You have inspired me to just start writing everyday and so I have decided that I will start and see where it takes me for the next 3 months. It is my passion to write but I do not feel confident that I am good enough to compete with the competition out there as yet.


  19. Well, I have selected direct mail. I am better at writing longer pieces.

    Guest (Ellie)

  20. ...oh dear! after reading the various postings for the three (3) month assignment--there seems to be a well diverse, knowledgeable and impressive group of writers...bravo...I choose white paper/case study on the secret to a successful business...Thank you Mindy P.S. Chris Morris on Einstein's Relativity? wow...Good topic

    Guest (Susan)

  21. I would like to see if I can really make money with a website. I would provide a lot of content by analyzing relevant science news items from a creationist's perspective. I have written a book going over the philosophy, history, and practice of science, showing how they relate to creation and evolution. I was planning to do something of a re-write but had to put the project on hold. I may do that first, or build a following with the website first. I think autoresponders could help, too.


  22. So hard to pick just one area, but I'll go with blogging and opinion pieces/essays to be used by advocacy groups or political entities. Politics and economics/personal finance as a subject are.

    Guest (Irwin)

  23. Hello everyone. I am tickled to finally be here since I have known for many years this is where I need to be. Give me an idea with a purpose, and I can write well in most any genre, but being a girl has left me feeling stifled. The emotional and physical disabilities of everyday life is a broad choice, but one I'm sure will fit into a lot of areas, companies, and amazing categories'.

    Guest (Wanda Thurston)

  24. Email Newsletter...this looks like a blue ocean strategy for my universe.


  25. Hi Mindy, Thank you for your post today. I want to stick with direct-response writing for the next 3 months. First because I am in the Accelerated Course and want to keep my attention focused in one area. Also, I have been writing fiction with a novel in the works and I am intrigued with the concept of using storytelling in direct-response. I think that will improve my storytelling, fiction writing, as well as, make me a really good at direct-response writer.

    Guest (Dena Warfield)

  26. Hi Mindy,

    I have chosen resume writing, and this month I made a very specific goal to have my website up and running by the end of the month. In the meantime, I have sourced several samples from friends, family members, and Barefoot writer members. I am really excited and cannot wait to see where this project takes me. Thank you for this article!

    Kate E

  27. Hello,Mindy You're giving us some interesting challenges - thank you! I recently completed Steve Slaunwhite's case study program & followed up with more case study offered by AWAI. Discovered I really enjoy writing them. That's the niche I'm choosing. Hope to fine-tune by industry or service as I progress. Looking forward to your next article.


  28. Hi Mindy, I would love to do white papers but my focus right now is on my health blog. I want to provide information where I can hopefully help others help themselves. However, I applied for a few jobs so my focus might turn if one pans out.

    Sandra Knight

  29. Alright I can't pick just one.
    Alternative Health/fundraising/Fitness - emails and autoresponders also Very interested in Financial and white papers.


  30. Hi Mindy!
    You're right, settling on a niche is not easy.

    Even though I know that I will eventually choose multiple niches. But I am interested in Case Studies first and e-newsletters and web copy...

    (Phew!) Looky there! I've finally focused on something! Thanks, Mindy!


  31. This is a bit like going to a buffet when horribly hungry,I WANT IT ALL! Case studies were a favorite of mine in Graduate school.
    But then an email newsletter would be a perfect fit for a newsletter for MS patients like myself.


  32. i have six choices. 1.travel writing. 2.christian writing. 3. catalog writing. 4. internet writing. 5.ebook writing. publicising. This i can do . by the grace of God.

    Guest (Agrih)

  33. Mindy, your article series was just what I needed. So many other AWAI articles said what you said...just get started.

    So I did! I registered my domain name yesterday (updraftcopywriting dot com) and signed up for web hosting with BlueHost.

    My focus: B2B content, blogging, and writing about the acoustic guitar industry as a specialty niche.

    Thanks for the big kick in the pants.

    Taking a road trip over the long weekend, but will take the laptop and keep working! And writing!

    Garth Osborn

  34. Hi Mindy, I'm going to follow this path for the next three months. It will be a News Letter from a patient with Relapsing and Remiting MS.

    It will cover day to day activities and discoveries of this stupid disease. No, it's not stupid it's mean and cunning. It can get you where it hurts the most. It did me, anyway.

    Going to sign off now. Do you think this will fly?


  35. Hi Mindy,

    Thanks for this post. I want to settle for enewsletters and case studies. I do not whether I will have specialized or not.

    Guest (Christine)

  36. Thank you Mindy!
    I have been trying to choose and thank to you and Rebecca I just chose. I will get going now. I did not think it would B2B, but that seems to be a safer and easier way to start.

    sylvia h

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