Do you specialize as a freelancer?
Few writers do. That’s why most writers make less than $100 an hour and mere cents per word from their writing. Specialists make more, and they get more and better clients.
Think of it this way. Your clients want a specialist: someone who’s knowledgeable in their field. If you’re a specialist, your words have weight: authority. That’s something you can’t fake. If they have a choice between a writer who’s written about their industry before, and another writer, guess who they’ll choose?
That said, you can’t be a specialist in everything. That ways lies madness. You need a way to become an instant expert too, so that you can seem knowledgeable in many different areas.
Tip: if you know you’re going to write about an industry/ topic frequently, devote some study time to becoming an expert in the area.
Way back at the end of the 1980s I got fascinated by the Internet. At that time, the Internet was “secret” — very few people were aware of it. I was on a lot of Bulletin Board Systems (BBSs), and got friendly with an academic. I got my first taste of the Internet through the account he set up for me, and then joined CompuServe. By the time the Web was born, I was an Internet expert. That experience stood me in good stead. I went on to write books, as well as for computer magazines: the Internet was my specialty.
Choose a Specialty Today
What you choose doesn’t matter. What matters is that you make your choice, you decide to learn everything you can about the area, and that you promote your expertise.
Pick an area that fascinates you. Perhaps you’re interested in food and cooking, or you love dogs. Or maybe you’re home schooling your kids. Maybe you’re researching a new car or a home purchase.
Very few of my writing students have a specialty when we start writing together. That’s one of the first things we work on.
Once you’ve chosen a broad specialty, niche it down.
For example, maybe you love to cook, so food has become your specialty. That’s a huge area. You need to niche it down. What do you enjoy writing about? What are you curious about? What would be the best writing job EVER for you?
I’m not familiar with food/ foodie topics (other than liking good food), but if I wanted to make a niche in this area my specialty, I’d be thinking about things like:
* The restaurant trade: profiling restaurants, doing reviews for trade publications, etc;
* Food security and health (think of the horse meat/ beef supply chain mess scandalizing the European Union), and writing for consumer magazines on these topics.
Can you see how the above two examples work? These niches are areas in which there’s money — large amounts of money. Yes, you should always “follow the money.”
If you choose a food specialty — or any specialty — make sure that there’s money being made in your niche.
Become an Instant Expert
Today you’re writing about home renovation, tomorrow you’re writing about developments in sports fabrics, and the day after that, you’re writing a press release for a company launching a cloud computing application.
You can’t be an expert in everything. So here’s how to become an instant expert:
* Interview three experts;
* Read the news in the area;
* Ask questions, lots of questions.
Accepting that you’re inexperienced in an area, and asking questions, is always the key to becoming an instant expert. If you do a good job of this, you’ll be asked to write about this area again, and soon you’ll be a real expert. 😉
We’ll have a lot more to say about specialization. It’s a huge part of a successful freelance career, so subscribe to the ezine.
NEW: 4-Week Ebook Sales and Publishing Coaching Workshop
Our comprehensive “Master Writing and Selling Kindle Books (or ebooks you sell on the Web, of course)” program now has its own coaching workshop.
The ebook mentorship program is consistently full, even at $3,000 for the three-month program. Therefore, I created this new workshop. You get an amazing deal on this, but the prelaunch is only three days, so check it out now.