The weeds are at home /
nestled in the greening grass. /
Motley blooms my yard.
5 Tips for Finding Your Content Writing Niche
By Ellen Miller
Pretend you just contracted a strange illness that caused your hands to turn purple. You go see your doctor, and he refers you to another doctor that specializes in curing weird hand pigment diseases. You breathe a huge sigh of relief, knowing that you’ve found the perfect person to solve this very unsightly issue.
In that way, brands are a lot like patients. They have specific content writing needs and want to find writers who can do the best job meeting them.
What we’re talking about here is a content writing niche. In a recent piece on personal branding, I addressed the importance of identifying your niche with a quote from John Gordon: “Experts are not called upon because they are the smartest person in every room; they are called upon because they are the smartest person in a specific room.”
Finding your niche, or your areas of expertise, will do wonders for your personal brand and your wallet. That’s because brands aren’t just looking for good writers; they’re looking for good writers with very particular areas of expertise. By carving out a content writing niche and becoming a subject matter expert, you’ll see more freelance job opportunities and higher paychecks.
So, how does one go about figuring out their niche? Here are five ways to get started:
Leverage Your Experience
If you have a day job, or used to work in a particular industry, you can leverage that experience to your advantage. And be creative! Let’s say you worked at a Verizon store, where you sold customers mobile devices and accessories. That kind of experience can give you authority on a range of topics: consumer mobile technology, technology retail, contract sales, retail management, window displays, and more. List out topics you know about from jobs, hobbies, and school, and then identify the ones that get you most excited. If you’re not passionate about the topic, it’s probably not the niche for you.
Let’s say you want your content writing niche to be “finance.” That’s a good place to start, but there are millions of other writers out there doing the same thing. So force yourself to be more specific. “Living on a budget” is a step in the right direction. Even better: “Living on a budget in college.” The more specific you get (within reason), the more likely you are to be a top choice for brands and recruiters. This list gives you a sense of the type of specificity to shoot for, and might even inspire you to find your niche.
Other recommendations include: Align with an Industry, Think About Your Audience, and Listen.
Two fifty-five-year-old authors were sitting together on a dais at a writer’s conference.
The first one looks at the photo and short biography of the third author who is scheduled to join them.
“Wow,” the first author says, “I must be getting old.”
“Why?” the second asks, “because she looks so young in the photo?”
“No. Because she says she’s twenty-seven and describes herself as middle-aged.”
“Yeah,” the second author sighs, “middle age is looking younger and younger to me, too.”
Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.
Bestselling crime novelist Michael Connelly had just returned from two weeks in New York, where he met with writers planning scripts for a new TV series adapted from his books about the Los Angeles Detective Harry Bosch.
He planned to take part in a conference call Thursday evening to help determine who would direct each episode for the first season of “Bosch.”
In between, Connelly stood in the Mini Theater at Harrison School for the Arts on Thursday afternoon, handing out copies of the script for the first episode of “Bosch” to a group of teenagers. Connelly, also author of “The Lincoln Lawyer,” spent nearly two hours talking to some 30 students in the Motion Picture Arts program at the Lakeland school.
Connelly, who lives in Tampa, talked about the writing process, the creation of characters and the challenges of adapting novels for TV and movies. He also treated Motion Pictures Arts instructor Rick Jansen’s class to the opening scene of the pilot for “Bosch,” which is still in production will be available for streaming on Amazon as early as next fall.
“I think that’s really nifty,” senior Eric Moots said afterward about Connelly’s visit to the school. “I don’t think this could happen anywhere besides Harrison.”
When I’m introduced to someone as a writer, a now familiar pattern of events often follows.
“Oh, really! How interesting!” the someone—let’s call her Jane—says, sounding quite enthusiastic. “What do you write?”
“Science fiction,” I say.
Jane instantly glazes over. “I’m afraid I never read science fiction.”
In other instances, people who know me have read a book of mine out of curiosity and then told me, in some surprise, that they liked it—“even though I don’t normally like science fiction.” Indeed, when a short story collection of mine won a non-genre prize, it was apparently a surprise to the judges themselves: According to the chair of the judging panel, “none of [them] knew they were science-fiction fans beforehand.”
How to Write a Manuscript: 5 Key Tips
Getting started on any writing project is always the toughest. For years I talked about turning an idea I had from college into a novel so amazing that Oprah would beg to have me on—probably twice! I had notes for the novel in my head and, once in a blue moon, I’d actually sit down to try to write the damn thing. But what did I know about how to write a manuscript? The most I could ever hammer out was about 2,000 words. Considering most first-time novels fall between 80,000-100,000 words, I think it was safe to say that I was more likely to publish a sneeze than this book.
It wasn’t until I got serious about it that I started to make real progress (not on that manuscript, mind you, but on a nonfiction project). I don’t think I would have had any luck writing a manuscript if I hadn’t learned these five tips. I recommend them to anyone who is serious about writing a manuscript or has even toyed with the idea of writing novels. Here they are.
1. Don’t worry about format until you are finished.
Details like this only stand in your way from writing a great story. Worry about cooking the meal first before concerning yourself with presentation. You can wait until much, much later to adjust your manuscript and adhere to formatting guidelines. And, when you are ready, read this piece on how to format a manuscript.
2. Set aside 45-60 minutes a day to write your novel.Who are we kidding, we all have super busy lives of driving kids to soccer, caring for sick parents, paying bills, posting witty Facebook status updates (after all, we are writers so our updates are the best), and who knows what else. But the dirty truth is if you can’t carve at least 45 minutes out of your day to dedicate to writing, then you aren’t serious about writing a manuscript. It’s time to take it seriously. If you need extra help, check out 90 Days to Your Novel —it’s a great resource.
Other information includes outlining, first and lines sentences, and having fun. Details at: http://www.writersdigest.com/online-editor/how-to-write-a-manuscript-5-excellent-tips?et_mid=669375&rid=239626420