Everybody should have a writing niche.
You’re heard the advice before, right?
But what if you don’t have a writing niche? And you’re just working on whatever projects come your way?
Or what if your chosen writing niche starts to stress you out, your niche clients start to suck the life out of you, and your income doesn’t seem to be growing?
Ahem…If that’s how you’re feeling, there’s some things you might want to take a closer look at. After all, this is your freelance writing business.
If you don’t have a writing niche figured out just yet, don’t panic. There’s been enough of that in 2020 to last a lifetime.
True…it’s probably easier to pick a writing niche at the beginning of your career than to switch niches in the middle.
Nevertheless, there may be times when changing your writing niche is what the income doctor orders.
In this post, I’ll share how to identify when “niche jumping” is in your best interest as a freelance writer, as well as how to pull it off without a hitch.
7 writing niche pivot points: What they are and how to identify them
A pivot point is a moment of decision, a point in time when you’re faced with a challenge or a critical fork in your career.
You’re likely to encounter several of these trying times as your writing career advances.
The following moments are times in your freelance career when you may be tempted to redefine your niche.
1. The rise of infant niches
Infant niches pose an interesting challenge for freelance writers. Because they’re new, they’re risky.
Is this new niche a passing fad or does it have staying power?
Shiny Object Syndrome is a real disease and the only known cure is self-discipline.
While risky, infant niches also pose incredible opportunities. The competition for potential clients isn’t as stiff, but startups in that niche may not have large budgets.
TIP: If you pursue these niches, I recommend placing safeguards on how many opportunities you chase. Why? It’s a smart way to avoid ending up with too many eggs in one basket only to discover an imbalance of rotten eggs.
2. Loss of passion
One reason you chose the writing profession is your passion for the written word, and possibly a topic about which you like to write. Still, even writers get The Seven-Year Itch.
Some questions to ask yourself:
- Have you lost your passion for your chosen writing niche?
- Do you still enjoy reading, researching, talking to sources, and staying on top of news and trends in your writing niche?
- Have you been able to move up and earn more in this niche?
- Or is something else happening in your life that could be clouding your judgement?
TIP: Before you make any rash decisions to drop your niche, say farewell to your clients, and kiss all your hard work goodbye, take a closer look at why you might be feeling off about your writing niche.
3. Transitional life stages
We all go through various stages in life.
There’s the exuberant, youthful life stage typical of college-age professionals.
After three kids, two divorces, and a few crashes and burns, many of us are more reticent about breaking windows.
Maturity may cause us to rethink our old career plans and look for new challenges.
Twenty years ago, frustrated and dissatisfied with a sales job, I exploded on a coworker. It wasn’t my coworker’s fault. After being fired for my outburst, I ate crow and apologized to the coworker. But the incident led to my taking a newspaper editing position, which later led to the launch of my freelance writing career.
I’ve since learned to embrace transitional life changes with bowlfuls of grace.
TIP: Are you at a transition point, feeling a little uncomfortable? If you’re at one of those tipping points in life, be open to changing your writing niche, or doing something completely different.
4. New challenges
One day everything’s running smoothly in your freelance writing business, and the next it feels like a runaway train. That ever happen to you?
If you’re trying to improve, you’re bound to face challenges as some point, such as:
- Career obstacles
- Financial challenges
- Health issues
- Family matters or strained relationships
- Even good things can be challenging like getting married, starting a new job, or sending kids off to college.
When life happens, it can lead to changes and challenges in how you approach your writing career and the types of clients you wish to attract.
TIP: I’ve found that taking personal inventory of skills, interests, passions, and experience every few years can lead to new discoveries that lie hidden in your core.
5. Black-swan events
Black-swan events are unpredictable events with widespread consequences. The 9-11 terrorist attack, the 2008 financial crisis, and the COVID-19 pandemic are all examples of black-swan events.
I’ve survived a couple of these as a freelancer:
Earlier this year, I lost some clients when the pandemic negatively affected the niche I was operating in. In 2008, the financial crisis resulted in a loss of half my real estate clients in three months.
TIP: Working in multiple niches will help you hedge against a loss of income due to unexpected events you can’t control.
6. Daydreams and night sweats
Dreamers can spend a lot of time chasing rainbows. If you’re like me, you might find yourself fighting your best nature as a freelance writer.
It is possible to turn these inner struggles into income. But you have to be intentional about it.
- Risk anlaysis. Train yourself to view opportunities through a risk-analysis paradigm rather than a blind focus on the potential rewards.
- Opportunity for potential. Similarly, if there is something you are losing sleep over, analyze it to see if it might be an opportunity for you get to your foot into somebody’s door.
7. When the moonshine still runs dry
Don’t be surprised if a once-lucrative writing niche turns sour with no reasonable explanation.
In the words of Forrest Gump, “It happens.”
TIP: Don’t stress over this. Just do your best work, and realize you may wake up one day and need to pivot.
How to make your pivot points
Just because you’re facing a moment described above doesn’t mean it’s time for you to pivot. But don’t rule it out.
Take a moment to examine yourself and your writing niche to see if you might be missing something critical that may inform your decision.
It’s best not to have to pivot
By choosing lucrative writing niches to begin with, you can curtail any necessity for pivoting later in your career.
Do yourself a favor and borrow a play from the investing world: Diversify!
TIP: By diversify, I mean choose three or four niches to specialize in. Why? If one of them dries up, you’ll have the others to lean on.
If you decide to pivot from one writing niche to another…
Take personal inventory, first, to determine if you have the skills and experience to work within a niche BEFORE you dive in.
- You may find it useful to dip your toe in the water first to determine if you like writing in that niche before you rewrite your website copy and rebrand all of your social media profiles.
- Before you pivot, talk to a few writers in the niche you’re considering to see what the lay of the land is like.
The best time to change your writing niche?
It’s when you don’t have to pivot. If you maintain two to four unrelated niches where you have some knowledge and skill, you’ll always have some clients and some income no matter what else is going on in the world.
Continue to take personal inventory of your skills and passions and keep one eye open for new opportunities. Bottoms up! May 2021 be a great year for you no matter which writing niche you serve.
Are you thinking about changing your writing niche? Leave a comment and let’s discuss.
Allen Taylor ghostwrites books for executives, writes about fintech and SaaS, and develops content strategies for small- and medium-sized local businesses.