Should freelance writers specialize or generalize? That question is always under discussion, not least on this blog. As a polymath, I like to keep my writing options open but today’s guest post from Karol Krol takes a different tack.
Why Finding a Specialty as a Freelance Writer is a Good Idea
First of all, let’s set some things straight. Finding a specialty is not the same thing as finding a niche. Niches are things like: web design, diet, health, chicken coop building, kickboxing, and so on. Specialties are something entirely different.
Freelance writing is a great career. Among many other benefits, I can list these two: you can work whenever you want, and you get to decide how many clients you want to work with in any given month.
However, the beginnings can be tough. As usual, the most difficult part is to get started. Then, once you’re going, each step forward feels a little easier.
That is one of the reasons why most beginner freelance writers don’t think about things like finding a specialty when they first go out in search of some clients. They are ready to take up anyone who throws a project at them (at least that’s what I was doing).
But here I want to show you a different approach – finding a specialty, or more accurately, picking one.
Before I can list some of the possibilities, I should probably say a word or two about the process itself.
This may sound like a Captain Obvious attack, but the best way to select a specialty is to try doing some work in a number of them, and then choosing the one that suits you best. Trying new things is always key to success, and only freelancers who are willing to expand and grow their skills will become the high performers.
Press releases (PRs) are short publications (300-500 words) that companies use to announce their new products, services, or anything else that has a newsworthy nature.
Those PRs are then sent to online agencies (like PRWeb – the leader in this space), where independent publishers pick them up for publication on their sites.
PRs have a specific construction that the writer needs to follow when creating the piece. There are elements that should be included for best response and to get a lower rate when submitting the PR to PRWeb.
If you master the skill of effective PR writing, you will realize that there’s a huge demand for this kind of work. Every day, countless companies release new products, and they naturally want to notify the world about this fact. You can make a successful freelancing career just by raising your hand and helping them out.
Nowadays, more and more companies realize that blogging is the 21st century’s way of reaching new audiences and actually building a lasting relationship with them. It’s also one of the best ways to showcase their expertise and prove that they want to be an active part of the community they’re in.
However, very few companies have writers on their payrolls. As a result, the blogs they run are often outdated and poorly written, which actually hurts their brands, instead of doing the opposite.
This is where you can step in. Find blogs in your niche (your area of expertise), reach out to them and offer your services as the blog manager and “editor-in-chief.”
Of course, your success will depend on how well you can prepare your pitch.
This is very similar to the previous point. You still need to find sites in your niche, and reach out to them with an offer. The offer, however, is a bit different.
Guest blogging is now a well-known “element” of the internet, so to speak. Countless sites/blogs have realized that guest blogging is one of the best ways to spread the word about what they’re doing, and that it’s a relatively cheap process.
However, the internet is vast, and it’s often difficult to send as many guest posts as one would want. This forces many sites to look for freelance writers who would take some of this work upon themselves.
Now here’s the best part. Getting a guest blogging contract is a lot easier than getting a paid blogging contract (previous point). That’s because you don’t actually need to be the best writer around for someone to hire you as a guest blogger. They will be a lot more picky when searching for a writer for their own blogs.
Reviews are a very commercial thing in the today’s world because, very often, they drive sales of new products and are a significant part of most affiliate businesses.
For some affiliate companies, the number of reviews they are able to publish and spread around the internet translates directly into the amount of money they can make.
Such companies are always on the lookout for new reviewers to join their teams.
I know that it’s a lot easier said than done, but here’s how you can make this happen: pick a niche, search for sites or physical magazines publishing reviews, and reach out to them with an offer (also, prove that you can indeed write a proper review; e.g. link to your other publications).
Ghost writing is a cool concept. Basically, it’s when you write a piece, and then it gets published under someone else’s name, so you don’t get any credit.
The whole sense in this is that some people simply don’t have the time to write as much as they would like to, but they still want to be seen as active, or have whatever other business goal for this.
This is one of the most profitable specialties here. That’s because it’s also one of the most difficult ones to master. Being a ghost writer isn’t easy. You have to know the style of the person you’re writing for, and mimic it perfectly, so the resulting piece looks exactly like it has been written by that person.
Newsletter writing may not sound like a separate specialty. It often seems like writing normal blog posts and then sending them out via email. It’s not exactly the case.
A good newsletter should have a certain structure. There’s the welcome message, the table of contents, the main content itself along with some images, info on what the next newsletter is going to feature, and some other additional elements.
There’s no one-size-fits-all construction, so every newsletter will have its own, but if you know the general rules, you can easily make newsletter writing your specialty.
If you create a portfolio showcasing your newsletter writing skills you should be able to find new clients quickly. Nowadays, many companies try to remain in contact with their audiences by sending newsletters. Those newsletters, however, are not always of high quality. If you can prove that you can change this, they will be happy to work with you.
This closes my list of specialties for freelance writers. Of course, you can choose more than one. But don’t go too far … being a jack of all trades probably won’t make you rich.
What other specialties do you know of? Feel free to share so we can expand this list together.
About the author: Karol K. (@carlosinho) is a freelance writer and blogger. If you’re interested in learning how to start freelance writing and eventually how to make money writing online, feel free to visit him at YoungPrePro. (Image: hgjohn)