Why Finding a Specialty as a Freelance Writer is a Good Idea

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

8032439407 f01e49118c 236x300 Why Finding a Specialty as a Freelance Writer is a Good IdeaFirst 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

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.

Paid blogging

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.

Guest blogging

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

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

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.

Newsletters

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)

About Sharon Hurley Hall

Sharon Hurley Hall has been mentoring writers here at Get Paid To Write Online since 2005 to help them improve and build sustainable and successful writing careers. Check me out on sharonhh.com. Feel free to connect with me online on Google+.

Comments

  1. I agree with you. Developing a certain writing style is very important. I see it the way people see dancing – you can either develop your skills to be a good ballet dancer or a good tap dancer or try both; but one is usually going to be better than the other.

  2. This is an interesting topic for me because I’m working as a generalist, and introduce my business to people by telling them I’m capable of writing anything (which has it’s merits, mind), but life would certainly be easier specialising and it’s something I mean to do. And you’re right, it’s definitely more lucrative to specialise.

    But I think it takes quite a lot of trial through more general writing before seeing what really clicks for you: it may be tempting to choose a speciality, when often it’s more the case that a speciality chooses you. Personally, for instance, whilst I’ve been looking to do more work for businesses I’ve ended up being sought for script-editing services, for film and TV – something I’m good at and got recognised for, but never sought to do professionally. (Sadly not something I intend on specialising in!)
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  3. I agree with you, Phil, about experimenting with many different types of writing before choosing a speciality. I used to be a Steff-of-all-trades, and I liked that because I got to do a lot of different things, but I hit a dry spell in terms of clients and someone pointed out that when they got to my website, they found I was offering too much.

    Now, I’m focusing mainly on blogging and guest-blogging, which are my two favorite things. I like being able to write about lots of different topics and reach out to bloggers. And you always get such a great feeling when a client’s post goes viral!

    But it has been valuable experience writing for a huge variety of projects over the years. I’ve learned a lot and definitely have a better idea of where I want my business to go from here.
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