How to select a content marketing niche that is not only profitable, but fun and fulfilling.
If you want to understand the importance of specializing in a content marketing niche (or two), here’s a story for you.
Two years ago, my husband had a strange twitching in his eye that was painful and limited his ability to see properly. We immediately scheduled an appointment with the eye specialist and when the eye specialist couldn’t figure out what was wrong, we searched on Google, realized this was more likely to be a neurological issue, and promptly went to see a neurologist instead.
Notice what we didn’t do? We didn’t go to see the local general practitioner. And if we had, we’d have been transferred to specialized care anyway.
From a business perspective, is the neurologist losing out on clients with back problems? Uh, yeah.
But this is a good thing.
Just the same as you: having a content marketing niche specializing in business or finance or parenting or health writing instead of being someone who “writes everything” is a good thing.
(P.S. No one writes everything. No one can write everything. Make that your advantage.)
When it comes to content marketing writing specifically, not only is having a niche a good thing, it’s a necessity. Content marketing is all about business. And businesses don’t hire “freelance writers,” they hire people with specialized knowledge of a subject who can write about it in an insightful and entertaining way in order to educate and inspire their audiences. As a business, I’m concerned about my bottom line. The way to boost that bottom line is by hiring someone who knows what they’re doing, not only in terms of delivery but also in terms of sector-specific expertise.
Are you that person? Can you be?
The first step towards a full-time career in content marketing writing (or to supplement your existing income), is to home in on a content marketing niche. Here are some quick and simple ways to find yours.
1. Look through your clips
If you’ve been working as a journalist or freelance writer for a while, you probably already have a well-defined subject area, topic, or region that you cover for your journalism work. I want you to set that area of specialization aside (I talk about why in this article where I discuss ethical minefields to avoid).
Now look through your clips from the last three to five years with an eye to discovering any specialties that you didn’t know you had.
Have you unknowingly written about health frequently? Are all your personal finance pieces somehow related to technology? What news did you cover routinely as a journalist that didn’t fall under your area of specialization? Those are all potential content marketing niches.
2. Consider areas you’ve always wanted to explore
For me—and it became really obvious once I started thinking about it—this was personal finance. I read tons of personal finance, business, and investment books, but never got around to actually writing about it.
When I started thinking about the kinds of content marketing clients I could get, financial services firms seemed like the most obvious fit. It’s not work that is in any way linked to my journalism (which is more focused on development issues) and it’s a topic I enjoy learning about. It helps that in my personal life, I’m currently obsessed with saving for retirement, buying a house, and getting my personal finances on track, so for a number of reasons, the topic was the right fit.
Therefore, it was not surprising to me that I landed a multinational bank and a large financial services company as clients right off the bat.
I love writing for my content marketing niche and it has absolutely no impact on my journalism, which I also love. Win-win.
3. List all the things that interest you
Well, maybe not all the things that interest you. That could be quite a list. But like I said (and something you’ll hear me say frequently in my book The Freelance Writer’s Guide to Content Marketing), the more specific your niche, the better chance you have of finding high-paying work.
Think about it—there are dozens of businesses, even in the smallest of niches, many that you may even buy from. Many of them are now moving into content marketing. If there’s a business that deals in antique furniture, for instance, whom will they want to hire? A writer who can talk intelligently about antique furniture, of course.
So, get really specific about the subjects you know a lot about or that interest you. I’ll show you how to find the work later. By the way, in The Freelance Writer’s Guide to Content Marketing I show you how to get high-paying work for even the most random of niches, no matter where in the world you are. (In this instance, being too specialized can actually be a very good thing.)
4. Leaf through your resume
If you’ve worked in business, you can write for business. And if you’ve ever held a job—any job—you’ve worked for business. Look through your resume to see which industries you’ve worked in and start finding some hidden content marketing niches in there.
The bottom line
For writers looking to break into content marketing writing, finding a niche to specialize in is the very first step. Once you have that, getting the work is easy.
And I’ll show you exactly how in my book The Freelance Writer’s Guide to Content Marketing. Read all about it here.
Natasha Khullar Relph
Founder and Editor, The Wordling
Natasha Khullar Relph is an award-winning journalist and author with bylines in The New York Times, TIME CNN, BBC, ABC News, Ms. Marie Claire, Vogue, and more.
She is the founder of The Wordling, a weekly business newsletter for journalists, authors, and content creators.
Natasha has mentored over 1,000 writers, helping them break into dream publications and build six-figure careers. She is the author of Shut Up and Write: The No-Nonsense, No B.S. Guide to Getting Words on the Page and several other books.
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