7 Tell-Tale Signs It's Time for a Higher-Paying Writing Niche - Make a Living Writing

7 Tell-Tale Signs It’s Time for a Higher-Paying Writing Niche

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How to Change Your Writing Niche to Earn More

Everybody should have a writing niche.

You’re heard the advice before, right?

But what if you don’t have a writing niche? And you’re just working on whatever projects come your way?

Or what if your chosen writing niche starts to stress you out, your niche clients start to suck the life out of you, and your income doesn’t seem to be growing?

Ahem…If that’s how you’re feeling, there’s some things you might want to take a closer look at. After all, this is your freelance writing business.

If you don’t have a writing niche figured out just yet, don’t panic. There’s been enough of that in 2020 to last a lifetime.

True…it’s probably easier to pick a writing niche at the beginning of your career than to switch niches in the middle.

Nevertheless, there may be times when changing your writing niche is what the income doctor orders.

In this post, I’ll share how to identify when “niche jumping” is in your best interest as a freelance writer, as well as how to pull it off without a hitch.

7 writing niche pivot points: What they are and how to identify them

A pivot point is a moment of decision, a point in time when you’re faced with a challenge or a critical fork in your career.

You’re likely to encounter several of these trying times as your writing career advances.

The following moments are times in your freelance career when you may be tempted to redefine your niche.

1. The rise of infant niches

Infant niches pose an interesting challenge for freelance writers. Because they’re new, they’re risky.

Is this new niche a passing fad or does it have staying power?

Shiny Object Syndrome is a real disease and the only known cure is self-discipline.

While risky, infant niches also pose incredible opportunities. The competition for potential clients isn’t as stiff, but startups in that niche may not have large budgets.

TIP: If you pursue these niches, I recommend placing safeguards on how many opportunities you chase. Why? It’s a smart way to avoid ending up with too many eggs in one basket only to discover an imbalance of rotten eggs.

2. Loss of passion

One reason you chose the writing profession is your passion for the written word, and possibly a topic about which you like to write. Still, even writers get The Seven-Year Itch.

Some questions to ask yourself:

  • Have you lost your passion for your chosen writing niche?
  • Do you still enjoy reading, researching, talking to sources, and staying on top of news and trends in your writing niche?
  • Have you been able to move up and earn more in this niche?
  • Or is something else happening in your life that could be clouding your judgement?

TIP: Before you make any rash decisions to drop your niche, say farewell to your clients, and kiss all your hard work goodbye, take a closer look at why you might be feeling off about your writing niche.

3. Transitional life stages

We all go through various stages in life.

There’s the exuberant, youthful life stage typical of college-age professionals.

After three kids, two divorces, and a few crashes and burns, many of us are more reticent about breaking windows.

Maturity may cause us to rethink our old career plans and look for new challenges.

For example:

Twenty years ago, frustrated and dissatisfied with a sales job, I exploded on a coworker. It wasn’t my coworker’s fault. After being fired for my outburst, I ate crow and apologized to the coworker. But the incident led to my taking a newspaper editing position, which later led to the launch of my freelance writing career.

I’ve since learned to embrace transitional life changes with bowlfuls of grace.

TIP: Are you at a transition point, feeling a little uncomfortable? If you’re at one of those tipping points in life, be open to changing your writing niche, or doing something completely different.

4. New challenges

One day everything’s running smoothly in your freelance writing business, and the next it feels like a runaway train. That ever happen to you?

If you’re trying to improve, you’re bound to face challenges as some point, such as:

  • Career obstacles
  • Financial challenges
  • Health issues
  • Family matters or strained relationships
  • Even good things can be challenging like getting married, starting a new job, or sending kids off to college.

When life happens, it can lead to changes and challenges in how you approach your writing career and the types of clients you wish to attract.

TIP: I’ve found that taking personal inventory of skills, interests, passions, and experience every few years can lead to new discoveries that lie hidden in your core.

5. Black-swan events

Black-swan events are unpredictable events with widespread consequences. The 9-11 terrorist attack, the 2008 financial crisis, and the COVID-19 pandemic are all examples of black-swan events.

I’ve survived a couple of these as a freelancer:

Earlier this year, I lost some clients when the pandemic negatively affected the niche I was operating in. In 2008, the financial crisis resulted in a loss of half my real estate clients in three months.

TIP: Working in multiple niches will help you hedge against a loss of income due to unexpected events you can’t control.

6. Daydreams and night sweats

Dreamers can spend a lot of time chasing rainbows. If you’re like me, you might find yourself fighting your best nature as a freelance writer.

It is possible to turn these inner struggles into income. But you have to be intentional about it.

  • Risk anlaysis. Train yourself to view opportunities through a risk-analysis paradigm rather than a blind focus on the potential rewards.
  • Opportunity for potential. Similarly, if there is something you are losing sleep over, analyze it to see if it might be an opportunity for you get to your foot into somebody’s door.

7. When the moonshine still runs dry

Don’t be surprised if a once-lucrative writing niche turns sour with no reasonable explanation.

In the words of Forrest Gump, “It happens.”

 

via GIPHY

TIP: Don’t stress over this. Just do your best work, and realize you may wake up one day and need to pivot.

How to make your pivot points

Just because you’re facing a moment described above doesn’t mean it’s time for you to pivot. But don’t rule it out.

Take a moment to examine yourself and your writing niche to see if you might be missing something critical that may inform your decision.

It’s best not to have to pivot

By choosing lucrative writing niches to begin with, you can curtail any necessity for pivoting later in your career.

Do yourself a favor and borrow a play from the investing world: Diversify!

TIP: By diversify, I mean choose three or four niches to specialize in. Why? If one of them dries up, you’ll have the others to lean on.

If you decide to pivot from one writing niche to another…

Take personal inventory, first, to determine if you have the skills and experience to work within a niche BEFORE you dive in.

  • You may find it useful to dip your toe in the water first to determine if you like writing in that niche before you rewrite your website copy and rebrand all of your social media profiles.
  • Before you pivot, talk to a few writers in the niche you’re considering to see what the lay of the land is like.

The best time to change your writing niche?

It’s when you don’t have to pivot. If you maintain two to four unrelated niches where you have some knowledge and skill, you’ll always have some clients and some income no matter what else is going on in the world.

Continue to take personal inventory of your skills and passions and keep one eye open for new opportunities. Bottoms up! May 2021 be a great year for you no matter which writing niche you serve.

Are you thinking about changing your writing niche?  Leave a comment and let’s discuss.

Allen Taylor ghostwrites books for executives, writes about fintech and SaaS, and develops content strategies for small- and medium-sized local businesses.

Recession Proof writing: free video - How Freelance Writers Double Their Income. Presented by Carol Tice, Freelance Writers Den Founder and Coach. WATCH NOW

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20 comments on “7 Tell-Tale Signs It’s Time for a Higher-Paying Writing Niche

  1. Linda H on

    I reached a pivot point 4 years ago and was thinking of changing niches then became ill and had to shutdown. Coming back, I’ve found that the toll of illness left me braindead in many areas, so I’m restarting and often feel lost. Yet the adage is true –the more you write the more you remember and the more you move forward. I still get old clients returning for work from the old niche, but it makes me shudder. Fortunately, I diversified in the past. I have several niches to choose from at this pivot point., It’s slow, but it’s working. Keep on keeping on and never give up!

    Reply
  2. LindaH on

    Good article, thanks for presenting! I’ve met those pivot points and had to change niches and restart a writing career.

    The differences in freelancing now and what I did before have a whole new learning curve that need perfecting. It’s slowly starting to meld together.

    Very helpful information for rethinking new niches and moving forward. Thanks for sharing. I think you mentioned, and I agree, joining the Freelance Writer’s Den through makealivingwriting.com is one way freelancers gain a support group to help with the changes and find invaluable learning for a new niche.

    Reply
  3. Soso Mweendo on

    This is an eye-opener. I am still touring the horizon, searching for an ideal niche for SOSO. It is hard and intimidating when some people make it seem so simple. It makes me feel stupid I can’t figure it out.
    BUT thank you for your contribution. The light bulb just switched on!
    It is an easy-to-read and motivating article!

    Reply
    • Allen Taylor on

      Chandra, you can offer to write an article for a company in a niche you want to write in for free or a reduce rate so that you can acquire a clip. Do that once or twice then you’ll have writing samples.

      Reply
  4. Richard on

    Very interesting and timely, thank you! Rather than changing my niche, I’m adding an extra one to the ones I already have. This part of your article actually convinced me to go for it:

    “Do you still enjoy reading, researching, talking to sources, and staying on top of news and trends in your writing niche?”

    I not only enjoy reading about them, I greatly enjoy participating in all of my niches.

    Reply
  5. Arnita Williams on

    Hi Allen,

    Yes, I really need a new writing niche.

    I was a stringer for a small community newspaper, which I voluntarily terminated Dec 1st. I could only gather a limited number of stories via phone and virtually due to COVID-19. It was beginning to stress me a great deal because I couldn’t get out into the field and exercise to my potential, among other things that sealed my decision. I still made a decent income, but it was time for me to move on.

    I would like to do case studies and and white papers. But, I need to gain experience. I have been reading up on the niches, but I’m not there yet.

    I have written magazine articles with my byline. I’m well-versed at writing business plans for new start-ups. However, clients in the biz plan niche are difficult to find, or they don’t have budgets to afford me, even on the low end. I’ve also written a case statement/proposal for a non profit.

    Currently, I’m pitching magazine editors, but it’s time for me to go for the lucrative niches.

    I had been freelance writing as a side hustle since 2006, and went full-time in March during the coronavirus.

    I considered blogging to tide me over, but WordPress is a challenge.

    What do you suggest, based in my writing background and experience?

    Thanks in advance for your feedback.

    Cordially,

    Arnita

    Reply
    • Allen Taylor on

      Arnita, it’s difficult for me to assess your skills with just a sketch of your experience. If I were you, I’d sit down and make a self-assessment.

      What are your passions?
      What do you like writing about?
      What niches have you written in before?
      What niches/companies have you worked for as a non-writer?

      Take a full assessment of yourself and find five writing niches that fit you. Then do some market research to see what the opportunities are in those five niches. Go with the three that have the most and highest-paying opportunities.

      You can always tweak your niche specialties as you go. Be open and flexible. And learn everything you can about writing for the Web. Good luck!

      Reply
      • Ben on

        This is partly the problem I have been facing.

        I already HAVE a full-time job, but want to freelance instead. I’ve been told that my interests can’t generate a freelance income, and when market research is suggested, I freeze up, because I have no idea how to conduct it.

        I’ve been learning the basics of freelance writing for 6 months, but have not made any progress.

        As I age, I feel this change is necessary for survival, as I cannot financially sustain the position I currently have.

        Reply
        • Allen Taylor on

          Hi Ben,

          Market research can be intimidating, but it needn’t be. Are you on LinkedIn?

          One thing you can do is look to see what other writers similarly situated to you are doing. How are they getting clients? Where are they finding them? What kind of writing are they doing?

          What works for one writer should work for another, but not all methods work for every writer, so it does take some discipline to figure out what will work for you. Good luck! I hope 2021 is good for you.

          Reply
        • Carol Tice on

          Market research can be as simple as taking somebody to lunch (maybe on Zoom?), and asking them what they read, what their top pains are, what they use content for. Start small! Even one small flash of insight from your potential customer’s POV could show you a direction.

          Reply

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