Who Are You as a Writer?
Why specializing in one topic is smart (and lucrative)
What is your area of expertise as a freelance writer, and is it going to make you money?
If you don’t know yet, a simple way to find out is by asking yourself these 4 questions:
- What do you like writing about?
- What do you like reading about? (This one is important!)
- What subjects are you knowledgeable in?
- Are you able to find clients in your desired market?
When I started freelancing (6 years ago), I was drawn to human interest stories. This led to profiling entrepreneurs, startups, independent creatives and companies in various print and digital publications.
Because I was naturally curious about how founders became founders, I produced great articles — and editors referred me to more publications, and therefore, more jobs.
Takeaway? Follow your curiosity — aka what you are naturally drawn to — when it comes to subject matter. Readers can tell if you’re writing out of passion or if you’re writing just to write.
6 years later, I’m still interested in human interest pieces, but I have narrowed my focus down to wellness-specific clients. Anything in the realm of building a life of healthy habits via the mind and body is game for me, because it’s something I genuinely believe helps people thrive.
As a result of my personal priorities evolving — becoming a mom, realizing how much better I look and feel upon treating my mind and body properly — my work did, too.
After all, your work is a reflection of your lifestyle.
Understand Your Readership
After you’ve discovered what subject matter speaks loudest to you, then you can go on to ask yourself:
- Why does what I’m writing matter?
- Who is it serving?
- How is it helping them?
Important side note: I’m not saying that specializing in one area is the best or only way writers will make money. Being a generalist works for many writers I know, and when you’re first starting out in your freelance journey, you kind of have to be a generalist to find your writer groove.
Again, follow your curiosity. And keep in mind the infamous “Riches are in the niches” concept.
Write like you’re speaking to one person. Make your writing relatable. Write about you’re passionate about. Don’t give up when you can’t find clients! Just change your route.
When you’re really stumped on how to position yourself as a professional writer, reach out to established writers and successful authors, and ask them for advice. Writing is just like any other industry — it’s about connections.
Another thing? Be bold in your writing. Say what everyone else is afraid to say. Take risks. Don’t follow the rulebook. Keep in mind that all advice (including this advice) is subjective.
Pro Tip: Pay attention to what you like to read. There’s a lot of advice out there telling new writers to write, write, write, in order to figure out your writer niche. But, in my opinion, what you enjoy reading about is a much faster way to find out who your target reader is — aka where your money will come from.
Thank you for reading.
Was this helpful? Let me know!
Ashley Alt is a writer based in Connecticut. Her area of expertise lies in mental health + self-improvement, but she can’t help her allure to fashion. Laughing is her favorite thing to do. She is a SoulCycle addict and a big proponent of the 4-day workweek.
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