How do you break into a new niche market without any samples or connections?
Ask Waze the quickest route to freelance success, and it would present one option so much more profoundly efficient than the others that you wouldn’t dream of ditching it.
In fact, a blinking red stop sign would likely appear with six bold words: “Go straight to a niche market.”
But if you’ve never been to that place called Niche Market before, how do you get there? Let me just say, a little pampering might made your journey from where you are to where you want to be as a freelance writer a little easier.
The absolute quickest way to earn more opportunities, improve your authority, get to know key players in your industry, move up and earn more is easy…tap into a niche market.
But how do you do that if you’re just starting out? Here’s how I went from zero contacts and clips in a niche market to landing a major magazine assignment:
Find your niche market
If you’re a beginner, don’t fret—the fun is just about to begin! Finding your niche market should be fun and get you excited. So don’t lose sight of why you’re writing in the first place.
Not sure what niche market makes sense for you?
Consider the stories that you rush to tell your loved ones at the end of the day, the section of Barnes & Noble you tend to loiter in, or magazines you love to read. These are good starting points to identify potential niche markets to build your freelance writing career.
In my case, my desired niche was holistic healing…but I had zero experience or connections. What would you do?
Bartering to break into a niche market
If you’re just starting out, or you’ve got some experience but want to break into a new niche market, you can. What I did:
I Googled “wellness centers near me.” Then I sent the following email to a holistic healing center that offers services I was interested in writing about:
Subject: Quick Q from a local writer
I noticed your website is beautifully designed, but doesn’t contain any blog posts. Adding custom content is a great way to improve your website’s discoverability and get in front of more potential customers, which I’m sure you know.
As a local wellness writer, I’d be happy to help your business grow its reach– at no monetary cost to you. I’m confident that we could both benefit from an exchange of services.
I would love to write articles for you in exchange for a monthly session. You can view past work samples on my website.
Would be great to set up a time to meet in person. Thanks!
Here’s what happened…
Within a few hours, I arranged a meeting with the wellness business owner. I came prepared with a list of possible blog posts and learned more about their business’ goals. And we worked out a trade agreement.
Now, I receive a treatment each month (ranging from acupuncture to massage) to better inform a blog post on the topic that follows. I’ve also developed relationships with all six practitioners at this wellness center, linking me to a wealth of expertise and story ideas from our conversations.
This unique trade also helped me build credibility in the wellness world. I recently was published on Shape.com, a longtime dream of mine, as a result.
Whether you’re interested in antiquing or the automotive industry, you can tailor this approach to work in your favor—it’s rare that a local business isn’t in need of awesome content. Here’s how to get started:
- Identify your niche market. Pick a subject matter/industry you’re interested in, have career experience in, and want to write about.
- Find small businesses in your niche. Small businesses are less likely to have a fat marketing budget to pay pro freelance rates. But that doesn’t mean they’re not interested in content marketing.
- Reach out to propose a trade agreement. Send the business owner an email or letter of introduction (see my example or check out the Freelance Writers Den for help), and ask if they’d be interested in trading services.
- Book a meeting to find out if it’s a good fit. Get a response, and you’ll want to book a meeting to get to know each other. (Keep in mind, you probably don’t want all your freelance work to come from trade agreements. One is probably enough. You want to get paid money to write, too.) Then show up with some blog post or content marketing ideas, talk shop, and see if you can work out a trade that benefits both of you.
Soak up information about your niche
Once you have your unique trade agreement underway, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of the challenges, opportunities, and trends in your niche market. Again, this knowledge will greatly improve your speed and efficiency as you learn to “talk the talk.”
Pay attention to niche market content
Your trade agreement and new connections will help you learn a lot about your niche market. As you get familiar with the industry, evaluate niche content with questions like:
- What question did this story fail to answer?
- What are the underlying trends?
- Does this story have a connection to another industry or demographic?
- What might happen next, and who would know?
- What are larger companies and key players in this niche market doing to build brand authority, generate sales, leverage content marketing?
- What companies and publications are part of this niche market?
You also want to nurture relationships with contacts and sources. Your contacts likely know plenty of others in their field, depending on the market.
Don’t be afraid to ask for introductions when appropriate. If you do land an interview or meet somebody new in your niche, ask smart questions.
That almost always leads to making more connections and developing more story ideas you can use for a blog post, or pitch a trade or consumer mag.
Relax…tapping into a new niche market feels pretty good
Above all, have confidence and fake it til you make it. That’s how you tap into a new niche market. The more you put yourself out there and learn (and yes, occasionally fall on your face), the more you’ll grow. Don’t let lack of prior experience stop you from owning your niche to move up and earn more.