What do you spend your money on? What do you tend to always find enough money to afford? What do you justify buying that’s as necessary as rent and gas to you? Perhaps it’s books. Perhaps it’s makeup. Perhaps it’s eating out regularly. Perhaps it’s karaoke, writing workshops, book clubs, kickball league, skiing, baking classes, video games. Whatever it is that you find yourself buying against reason, whatever you consider an essential to enhance your life, THAT is a good predictor of what you would have a genuine interest in and the knowledge to write about. It’s your niche!
See, you may think your writing niche is what you’ve had experience writing about before. And it might be, to some extent. But what you regularly keep as a priority in your life, what you spend your hard-earned money on, that’s a better indicator of what you like to write about, and I bet you don’t even consider it work. For instance, I spend money on books, I write book reviews on Good Reads, I’m in the book-mailing club Book of the Month. I already write book reviews for sheer pleasure, and I’m not doing it for money. I’m doing it because I love to evaluate why a book worked and attempt to articulate the experience for other readers. I know that books are an excellent niche for me because I spend money on them, even when I shouldn’t. How to find my writing niche? I made a list of what I tend to spend money on. And sometimes, things come up on that list that surprise me.
Copywriters Getting Pigeonholed
What’s unfortunate for writers is that you are defined by what you’ve already written about. I’m defined by the fact that I’ve formerly written product descriptions of consumer electronics and appliances. These are not even items I make a point to spend money on beyond headphone and iPhones. It’s a niche I got defined by based on sheer chance. I spend money enough money at Sephora to qualify as a VIB member. I once saw a girl in neon orange lipstick and correctly identified that she was wearing the shade A-Go-Go in Kat Von D. But when I list these as indicators of knowledge and interest in makeup for a Smashbox copywriter job, I get no bites. Smashbox believes that my past determines my niche, not my spending habits. They even said, “Do you have a makeup blog?” Sure, a makeup blog and past experience would directly validate my knowledge, interest and writing prowess in makeup. But, couldn’t I have proven myself by writing a trial article for Smashbox? There could be people writing about makeup that are writing about it the same reason I write about electronics, by chance. We may even write well about it. But in terms of longevity for both writer and client, writing about a niche that comes from a genuine place rather than a dutiful place is a better bet for niche.
Write What You’d Write About FOR FREE
I mentioned how I wrote book reviews on Good Reads for sheer pleasure and no pay. This is a blaring red siren alerting me, “Niche Alert!” If you’re a Writer Access copywriter, you may realize you’ll accept lower paid orders if it’s a subject matter you like. For instance, product descriptions of vibrators are extremely low pay on Writer Access. But I’ll still pick up some of those orders because I enjoy them and because copy is ALL I have to determine the difference between vibrators. I don’t buy them because of what they look like; I buy them based on what the copywriter says the experience will be.
Since sexuality is so elusive and particular to every individual, vibrator copy has the challenge of enticing, but not intimidating, consumers. It’s important to encourage a vibrator consumer that everyone is capable of pleasure from it, and that you’re not abnormal if it isn’t perfect, immediately. I think it’s a shame to relegate vibrator copywriters to low pay, when they’re so integral. Most women buy vibrators online, and the copy is the primary information they have. Even for women who buy vibrators in stores, they rarely verbally consult the bored winged-eyeliner salespeople, but again, read the copy to determine purchase.
Wondering how to find your writing niche? Start with what you spend money on and what’d you write about for free. That list may surprise you, but it’s a great road map!
Samantha S writes direct, dynamic, digestible copy for any purpose and any medium. She has written for apps, games, websites, literary journals, trade magazines, newspapers, e-commerce brands and health//nutrition brands. Samantha’s most notable achievements are authoring a guidebook for College Prowler, interviewing Leonardo Dicaprio, Zac Efron, and Amy Sherman-Palladino for The Hollywood Reporter, reviewing books for Publishers Weekly, covering the World Series of Poker, teaching creative writing at Harvard-Westlake, and working as Editor-in-Chief of The Oval literary magazine.