Whether you’re interested in working from home, starting a side gig, or are just considering a secondary form of income, freelance writing is a great option to consider given its potential to be incredibly lucrative and the relatively low level of skill required to start. As long as you understand how to write in a way that’s grammatically correct and are willing to improve, you can begin your path to becoming a successful freelance writer. 

Of course, to break into this game, you need to become privy to some of the industry’s fundamental questions, such as how to pitch to clients, what and how you should charge said clients, and perhaps the most important question: how to settle on a niche.

And that’s just scratching the surface. If you’re seriously thinking about starting a freelance writing gig, there are a lot more details you’ll have to confront. But this post isn’t here to overwhelm you with all the granular bits and details you’ll have to unpack as a freelancer. Rather, the goal of this article is for you to gain a general idea of what you’ll be getting into at the onset of this journey so that, by the end, you’ll feel more comfortable when deciding about what you want to write about.

So, what are you waiting for? Let’s dive into it!

Nailing Down Your Niche

As a freelancer, you could attempt to write about every niche and industry out there, but that isn’t an approach I would recommend. If you go down that path, you’ll inevitably spend more time researching topics you’re unfamiliar with than actually writing. Less time spent writing results in less content being put out, and to freelance writers, content = money.  

On the flip side, you could narrow your focus and become an expert in a particular niche. The deeper your expertise in your niche, the more valuable you’ll become to your clients—and get this—the more valuable you are to your clients, the more you can charge.

How do you choose which niche to focus on? 

If you’re only interested in freelancing as a way to make money, your best bet will be to write for more lucrative industries like Saas (software as a service), Tech, B2B (business to business), or Finance, among others.

If, however, you’re more like me and want to write about something you’re genuinely interested in while still pulling in some hard cash, here are three things to think about:

number one

Experience:

What industries do you have experience in? Ideally, you’ll want to begin by writing about something you already know about. That way you don’t have to start completely from scratch. When I was beginning my journey as a freelance writer, I had a number of different professional experiences, but when it came to what I wanted to write about, I managed to narrow it down to a list of three things. If I were to start that list from scratch today, it would look like this:

  • Digital Marketing
  • Personal Development
  • Creative Writing
number 2

Passion:

What are you truly passionate about? Can you imagine yourself writing on the subject consistently week over week, maybe even every day? Whether you’re a foodie, a coffee connoisseur, or a Master Builder in Minecraft, make a list of your passions/hobbies. You may not find clients who need help writing about your passion specifically, but having them clearly laid out will give you a general direction to go in. And who knows! One of my first clients actually had me writing short stories about Minecraft, and I don’t even play that game! Today, my narrowed down list of passions that I’d write about looks something like this:

  • Storytelling
  • Traveling
  • Personal Development
number three

Market Validation:

This is the part where you discover whether the topics you listed as experiences and passions have the potential to be profitable niches. There are various ways to do this, but the simplest route is to go onto different job listing sites, search for gigs in your chosen niche, and see if any jobs are posted about it. Some good sites to start out with are:

marketing validation someone reading a tablet

I’ve Chosen a Niche. Now What?

Once you’ve decided on what niche to going to write about, you’re going to need to compile a portfolio of your writing. Why? Because potential clients are going to request samples of your work to decide whether they like your writing enough to hire you. 

If you don’t have any samples of your work, don’t worry! Just write a couple of articles related to your niche. You can never have too many good samples of your writing, but you should only need around 3-5 to begin. You can also write guest posts for blogs in your niche to get your name even further out there. You’ll probably end up writing these for free, but that’s okay because you’re still building your brand! And the bigger your reputation, the more you can charge for your writing.

If you aren’t sure what kind of sample articles to write for your portfolio, just remember that list posts, how-to articles, and ultimate guide articles are generally always in demand. And remember! Just because you hone in on one niche initially doesn’t mean that you have to stick with it forever. Feel it out. See if one niche fits you better than others, and if it doesn’t, try something else! If you’re going to become an expert in a particular niche, you might as well make sure it’s one you can thrive in. 

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Yitzchak Young
Yitzchak's mission is to bring clarity to ideas, people, and the relationship between them so that together, we can create a world in which we're all a bit more understood. Right out of high school he started a career as a freelance writer, later co-founding a start-up where he taught myself copywriting, digital marketing, web design, and how to make a delightful good cup of coffee. The start-up eventually got shelved, but the skills and experiences he gained from it have proved to be invaluable. For the last few years, he's been indulging his insatiable curiosity with human behavior, and doing so has helped contextualize the differences between good and bad storytelling and what that means for everyone.