This New Year, Give Yourself
the Gift of a Niche
By Steve Maurer
Well, 2017 is almost over, and 2018 is just around the corner. Honestly, for me, this year has gone by fast. And, it's been a productive one, as well.
Actually, that's been a trend for the past four years. My income has grown significantly each year.
There's one thing I credit for that growth above everything else … and I'd like to share it with you. If you're a new web writer, this could be the key to having an excellent first year in business. And, if you’ve been at this for a while, but feel like you’re still struggling, this could be what helps you turn the corner.
It has been my experience that if you will commit to finding and working in a niche or target market, you'll pick up momentum much quicker.
It's worked for me. And, it's worked for many other writers, too.
Why not make it work … for you?
Finding a niche frustrates many new writers. Narrowing your focus to a subset of all the possible clients out there seems counterproductive.
And, of course, there's the question about how to find a good niche. And the numerous other questions about finding a target market. I know … because I've asked them all myself.
I really want to see you succeed in the coming year. I definitely believe choosing a niche and committing to it will help enormously.
So, let’s look at the three most important questions:
- What is a niche?
- Why should I choose one?
- How do I pick the right one for me?
Let's start by defining what a niche is not …
What a niche isn't
To be sure, there are a lot of definitions of “niche” floating around. That's often a source of confusion for new copywriters. I'm going to give you a very clear idea of what a niche really is.
But, before I do, let me explain what it is not.
Business-to-Business (B2B) is not a niche. Neither is Business-to-Consumer (B2C). Both B2B and B2C are more categories than anything else.
What sets them apart is the intended audience or customer — the end user of the product or service. I primarily write B2B copy and content. However, there is some overlap within my niche, where I sometimes write B2C copy, too.
More on that in a minute.
A specific type of writing isn't a niche either. Some consider formats like white papers, case studies, email copy, or web content as niches. These are content or copy specialties.
You can make good money with a writing format specialty. However, you should still write within a niche to get the best results.
So, what is my definition of a niche?
What a copywriting niche is
A niche is a group of businesses that produce and sell similar or related products and services.
In other words, an industry.
Here's an example. My niche is industrial equipment manufacturing and services. Ball bearings, electrical conduit, wiring, and machine components are all related products in machine manufacturing.
Industrial machine manufacturing is my horizontal or umbrella niche. Get a piece of paper and draw a horizontal line at the top. Above that line, write my niche. This is a niche at its broadest. But, there may be narrower niches within it.
In my case, I work with two verticals, or niche focuses: electrical products and services; and, industrial safety products and services. (If you draw two vertical lines down from that, you'll get the picture of a vertical industry or niche focus.)
Those two verticals are where the bulk of my personal experience and expertise comes from. That allows me to write effectively for those markets. And, that's where I focus when searching for clients.
I have experience in other related fields, such as industrial plumbing. However, I don't concentrate my marketing on getting those clients.
While I focus on the industrial side of those verticals, many of my clients have consumer products as well. So, on occasion, I've written B2C content and copy within that related target market.
So, why did I choose that niche, and what has been the benefit?
In other words … why choose a specific niche?
How does a niche help you make more money?
To understand the idea, I'll use the time-honored example of the medical profession. You may have a family doctor, most likely a general practitioner (GP). A GP knows much about the entire body and how to treat common illnesses and diseases.
However, some treatments are beyond a family doctor's expertise. For example, a close friend of mine has a gastrointestinal disease. She was sent to a specialist who knew more about it. Eventually, as it progressed, she was sent to a medical research facility that specialized on that disease for further treatment.
In each step, the fees involved increased as the knowledge, treatments, and equipment required became more complex.
It's similar in copywriting. When you're a generalist — someone who writes about almost anything — the fees you can expect will be much lower than a niche specialist's.
Additionally, many companies who value content and copywriting are more likely to seek out a niche specialist. And, they’re more willing to pay higher fees for the specialized knowledge.
There are other benefits to having a niche.
One is that you can spend your time increasing your knowledge of a chosen niche. In my case, I already know a lot about the industrial manufacturing field. Therefore, I just need to keep my knowledge "topped off" by staying current with the latest trends and developments.
Aside from that, a niche saves both time and money when advancing your copywriting education. A niche will guide you in choosing the right training programs for the skills you'll need.
In other words, it's a fantastic way to combat the shiny object syndrome!
How to choose the correct niche for you
There are so many options, it might seem a daunting task. However, there are several techniques you can use.
One is to take a sheet of paper and write down your hobbies, interests, and work experiences. This will give you a springboard to dive into the pool of industries available.
Every industry needs writers, some more than others. Once you have a list of possibilities, you can begin researching them. Search Google for websites related to industries on your list and see what they use for copy and content.
Google is a vast database, and you'll have a lot of results to wade through.
Another way to research a niche or target market is using LinkedIn. Using the text box at the top of each page, you can search for companies, people, and even schools in a niche.
You won't get as many results for a search term as you would in Google. However, you'll get more specifically targeted information.
As you research, you might find a few that don't seem to have much call for a copywriter. Even so, keep in mind the concept of vertical and horizontal industry categories.
For example, you might not find a lot of work in the vertical baseball trading card niche. However, backing it up to the more horizontal sports memorabilia industry may yield better results.
Finally, choosing the perfect niche for you may depend on what you want to accomplish financially with your writing. For example, do you:
- Just want a little extra spending money?
- Want to have cash on hand for helping friends and family occasionally?
- Want to use the money for a specific purpose, such as paying certain bills?
- Want to go full-time and create an income to replace your current job?
Determining how much money you want to make is quite important. And, along with that, how much time you either want to spend or have to spend on writing helps determine your ideal niche.
If you don't have much time — but need to make a lot of money — your ideal niche must be able to supply that income.
Sure, being passionate about what you write helps to a degree. But, it's not necessarily vital and doesn't determine your income level.
I’m not madly in love with my chosen niche. But, I do find it interesting and know quite a bit about it, since I've lived in it for 30 years. I know the industry, and that helps in writing for it. I can write faster and with more authority than others in that field.
Translation? Better pay for less time.
My take on commercial freelance writing was and continues to be this: If you write what you know, you'll know what to write. And, how to write it.
And most importantly, you’ll know what your writing is worth to your clients and their target market.
So, this coming year, give yourself the gift of a niche. And, the more quickly you can do that, the sooner your income can and will grow.
You may not write for that market forever … it may change down the road. But, becoming a niche specialist gives you a good starting point.
Choose a good, lucrative niche. One that will get you moving fast, right now. And have a profitable and successful New Year!
Wishing you the best of Wealthy Web-Writing Success!
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