Updated November 2018
Playwright and Nobel Prize recipient Dario Fo said, “A theatre, a literature, an artistic expression that does not speak for its own time has no relevance.” In order to make money as a freelance writer, you have to be able to capitalize on your own ability as a content creator. That means figuring out where you fit in, writing what you are good at writing and distributing that work to the people who want the content you are creating. How do you do that?
Focus on your strengths
Put your creative power behind your strengths and do your best to minimize the negative impact of your weaknesses. You may be tempted to spin your wheels building up your weaknesses before you start looking for work. Strengthen your deficiencies as a matter of professional development. But this should be a separate endeavor from looking for work. Whatever you are good at right now, that’s what you market.
Know what works for you
It is difficult to create content on a subject with which you are not familiar. So it’s important for you to be able to readily identify the areas in which you are well versed. That is true for subject matter and writing style.
Fiction or Nonfiction – Chances are good you will have a natural proclivity toward one or the other. This may shift over the course of your career depending on your workload and other outside influences. Decide which of the two has the following characteristics:
- Ease of delivery – Which is easier for you to produce? One may feel like it spills out naturally while the other may feel like you have to yank it out with all your might. Does one feel more draining than the other? Which comes to you more quickly? Focus on writing in the genre that is most natural.
- Superior quality – Writer in the genre in which you turn out the highest quality material. If your sci-fi and romance are a little lackluster, your most marketable skills may be in nonfiction writing.
- Marketability – Find out who is in your target audience and what kind of content they have an appetite for. Pander to their desires and you will stay busy with work.
Genres and Niches – There is no limit to the number of genres and niches on which content can be produced. But there are some genres and niches that are more popular than others, and thus, content in these categories is more frequently requested by clients and readers. According to Writer’s Digest, the most popular genres for literary fiction are:
- Thriller / Suspense
- Science Fiction / Fantasy
Niches, on the other hand, commonly refer to nonfiction topics. Nonfiction topics run the gamut from business topics to anti-aging techniques for dogs. Just about anything can qualify as a niche topic. The popularity (and relevance) of any given nonfiction topic hinges on the audience and the distribution method. Still, there are evergreen topics that seem to have a consistent audience:
- Home and Gardening
- Dating and Relationships
- Making Money
- Health and Nutrition
It can be tough figuring out where you fit in when you’re first starting out as a freelance writer. Here’s a tip: Try everything. You really don’t know for sure what you do well until you’ve done it well consistently. You may surprise yourself.
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