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You know…especially when you’re just starting out?
- You’re confident in your ability to write.
- You’ve got the business aspects of being self-employed figured out.
- You’ve set up a website and social media accounts to start marketing your services.
- You feel like you’re good to go.
Apart from one thing: how do you set yourself apart from all the other freelance writers out there? Do you need a copywriting niche?
You notice pretty quickly that all kinds of businesses need writing help. And that a lot of copywriters seem to focus their work on particular subject areas. Sooner or later you’ll hear the advice that you should do the same.
You’ll be told that you should “niche down.”
Do you jump in and immediately define your copywriting niche? Or could there be another way to find your place, land great clients, and enjoy your work?
Here’s a fresh take on the ‘freelance copywriting niche’ conversation.
Niche down: What does it mean for copywriters?
Do you need a freelance copywriting niche? A niche refers to a specific area of expertise that you try to claim for your copywriting business.
It’s recommended that you define your copywriting niche in order to set yourself apart as someone who is an expert in a particular area of copywriting.
By doing so, you can establish yourself as a real pro in a certain industry, and be handsomely rewarded, by becoming the go-to freelancer in a specific copywriting niche.
Maybe you need a copywriting niche. Maybe you don’t. If you think it’s a good way to go…
There are three areas of focus for a copywriting niche:
- A specific industry. Maybe more than one, but generally only if they’re related. For example, you might choose health and fitness, as well as sports supplements.
- A specific discipline of copywriting. You could choose to specialize in certain types of copywriting: email campaigns, landing pages, brochures, etc.
- Combine with a separate, additional skill. To complement your copywriting you can add in another skill you possess. For example, maybe you’re good at SEO research and can optimize your client’s copy (both new and existing) in order to gain better Google rankings. Or perhaps you’re bilingual—you can offer to translate existing copy into other languages in a way that will keep it relevant cross-culturally.
You can even create your own copywriting niche by combining things from these three areas. For example, writing landing pages for SaaS companies or email campaigns in both English and Spanish for a fashion brand.
The possibilities for freelance writing niches are endless, and the choice can end up being rather overwhelming.
But you’ve only just started. How do you know which you should pick, or even if you should define your copywriting niche.
Do you need a copywriting niche when you’re starting out?
You can find a lot of advice and predictions online about which copywriting niches are believed to be the most financially lucrative.
This can be great if your main focus is just your bottom line.
But don’t forget that isn’t the only consideration when deciding what kind of work you want to be doing long term.
This is a concern for many new copywriters just starting out…
- You don’t know yet what kind of copy you enjoy writing, and probably more importantly, what kind of copy you’re good at writing.
- You don’t know what kind of work might be available in the future, based on the economy and even the geographical area you live in (although this is becoming less important as the world moves increasingly towards remote work).
- And of course, some industries are just hard to break into.
So perhaps it’s not always a good idea to pick a copywriting niche right away.
The biggest worry is usually this: You could end up niching yourself down a complete dead end.
To niche or not to niche?
And as someone who is new to freelance copywriting, I myself have this concern and have therefore decided not to commit just yet.
When I first started thinking about what I’d like to do, I thought I’d like to niche into beverage brands, in particular:
- Writing their branding materials
- Coming up with slogans and brand names
- Crafting content for ads, social media buzz, and marketing campaigns
It seemed like hanging up my shingle in the beverage copywriting niche made sense.
This was because this industry was one I’d developed an interest in while studying for my masters degree in marketing.
However, it became apparent to me pretty quickly that this was overly ambitious. After some stops and starts pursuing this as my copywriting niche, I learned a few things…
- Most soft drinks companies are large multinationals after all.
- Although I knew the industry well, it would be hard for me to get my foot in the door.
The unexpected path to choosing a copywriting niche
Maybe chasing multinational beverage companies for copywriting work isn’t the best place to start…
- Or hospital systems
- Or manufacturing businesses
- Or Fortune 500 companies
- Or tech giants
- Or (fill in the blank)
Maybe when you’re starting out, you need experience BEFORE you define your copywriting niche.
Here’s what I did…
I decided to cast my net more widely and open myself up to a broader range of opportunities.
And a mix of clients and new writing opportunities came my way:
- A local charity. After landing this client, I found myself writing emails, social media posts, and direct emails. The very first direct email I wrote for their new fundraising campaign solicited a £10,000 donation!
- Tech start-ups. I’ve also worked with some new tech startups- another area I hadn’t really considered originally. And for them, I’ve done landing pages capturing email addresses to register interest in beta testing. Again, not something I’d thought about before.
While I would certainly still enjoy writing billboard slogans for huge brands like Budweiser, maybe that’s not the right place to start.
I’ve found out that I really enjoy the art and the challenge of writing copy that calls the reader to take immediate action, whether that’s giving their email address or making a charitable donation.
Let your copywriting niche find you
If I hadn’t kept my options open I might not have found that out. I do think having a copywriting niche is probably a good thing to aim for.
But it makes sense to take your time and experiment to find out which copywriting niche is most suitable and most realistic for you.
Rather than trying your hardest to find your niche, consider giving your niche a chance to find you instead.
Do you need a copywriting niche? Let’s discuss in the comments.
Luke Ayton is a U.K.-based freelance copywriter and marketing expert.