“I can’t possibly write about traveling to the South of France. That’s not my niche.”
“There’s no point pitching to this online magazine targeting urban foodies. I know nothing about brewing beer at home.”
“I can’t contribute any valuable piece of advice to a website geared towards mothers when I’m not a mother myself.”
How many times have you thought like that as a freelance writer?I know I used to do it about twenty times a day. That’s a ballpark, by the way.
As writers, we are often encouraged to find a niche. But then a lot of writers complain about being so backed into their niche, that they take themselves out of the game before they even compete for writing jobs outside of it.
As writers, we are often encouraged to find a niche.
When you first start out, you only see your limitations.
Could I write about a Paleo diet? Absolutely. Am I interested in writing about that? I would say no. I want to be known as an expert in my niche, and my niche is adult learning and teaching, especially foreign languages.
Why do I want to stick to my niche?
Simply because I love it. If I wasn’t writing about it, I would still be reading and researching about it every day. I would be thinking about it every day. I would see all topics through the eye of my niche every day.
But I discovered early on that, if I wanted to afford the luxury to write within my niche, I had to go through the trouble of “stretching” it to suit multiple publication, websites and content seekers.
I want to keep writing about what I love. At the same time, marketing myself to one small niche in one limited way is not a sustainable career path for a freelancer. I needed to expand my niche.
So here are four ways in which you could expand your niche, while still staying true to it.
1. Expand Your Audience
Your niche is usually concentrated around a certain target audience. As a way to stretch your niche, you need to expand your audience.
To do this ask yourself:
When do people need my help?
Who else needs the information that I provide, other than my direct target audience?
How I Did This
My direct target audience are language learners. Not only do I teach two foreign languages (it used to be three), but I also offer advice on how to mindfully and purposefully learn another language.
I expanded my niche by asking myself the questions above: when do people need my help? They’re learning languages in school and university, but people also need to learn a language when they’re moving to:
- A new country – expat writing niche
- When they travel – travel writing niche
- When they are looking for a relocation inside a multinational company – career writing niche
- When they retire and start taking hobby classes – retirement writing niche
2. Always Keep Up to Date
By keeping up to date within your niche you’ll stay up-to-date with the latest news, helping your writing stay current.
What is going on in my niche right now?
Are there any new websites, applications, books or products that are breaking into my niche right now?
How I Did This
A good way to keep up to date with your niche is to set Google alerts with key words.
Because the foreign language learning market is expanding really fast right now, I get weekly alerts from Google whenever a new app launches, a new platform raises funding or a website puts out a press release that contains the key words that I chose.
It can be overwhelming at first to go through all the news, so that’s why I switched from daily emails (too distracting) to weekly emails. I like to take a couple of hours every week to research what is new on the market. That way, my writing does not rehash old ideas over and over again.
3. Switch Your Point of View
Sometimes looking from a different perspective can help you widen the scope of your niche.
Can I change my perspective to get more insights into my niche?
How I Do This
I already mentioned that I’m a language teacher. But writing from that perspective alone can be limiting and not very valuable to my readers.
There are some insights that I’m not privy to from this position. So I make sure I turn the tables often, and write from the perspective of a language learner.
I’m a newbie at some languages. I’m at an intermediate levels in others. I tackle these differences in learning from my own perspective. In order to understand how gamification in language apps works, I create accounts and jump right into the learning. I participate on language platforms as a user. I review programs, websites and apps from the perspective of a language learner.
In other words, I interact with my niche not just as an expert or authority, but as a consumer. Learning by doing is almost always more valuable than just observing and reporting.
4. Consider Connected Niches
Find other niches that are relatable to your niche. This opens the door to learning about other niches that you might find interesting.
What other factors influence or are influenced by my niche?
How I Do This
I’m really interested in academic research about my niche, so I follow scientific journals – which I access with my library card– and science magazines – which I also read online, for free, through my library.
I write about the connection between language learning, procrastination and habit formation. This allows me to write into the personal development niche.
I tackle subjects such as personal growth, productivity and motivation when people learn something new. This type of article suits a growth hacking niche. I research about the impact that foreign languages have on child development, which is a topic I often pitch to parenting websites.
Go On and Write
I hope that my four strategies have given you a glimpse into how you can write in various niches, while still staying faithful to the subject you like writing about the most.
Grab a piece of paper and a pen and ask yourself the questions above. Brainstorm answers without thinking of the limitations. Then go on! Write!