Friday, May 21, 2010

Changing your Niche

Here I have spent the week lauding the praises of the niche, something I don't think I truly even understood two years ago. So... now let's talk about changing yours.

I'm in the midst of drastically altering my writing focus, which is a difficult and challenging venture. Anyone who has found their interests and passions moving from one spectrum of the writing planet to the other understands what a huge endeavor this is. Moving from commercial real estate to fashion.. um, yeah. I suppose it could be said I'm creating a second niche.

Here's how I'm doing it: (To be honest, since I've never switched my niche before I can't vouch for the fool-proofness of this plan. It just makes logical sense to me.)
  1. Identify the new niche you'd like to pursue. This needs to be specific, as specific as possible.
  2. Look for opportunities to be published in this area. This will at times mean writing for free, starting a blog, or going out on a limb to pitch a publication.
  3. Find the ways your current niche and the one you'd like to have intersect. (For instance, I've written about new malls opening and the retailers looking to locate in the facility.)
  4. Don't neglect your niche area. By falling out of practice in your actual area of expertise you are closing the door to other opportunities that could be coming your way. And let's be honest, as a freelancer you can't shut the door on anything. Stay current. Read up. Take assignments.
  5. Read, read, and read some more on the area you want to focus on.
  6. Seek out the online community for that field. Interact with the key players - network. Learn the big facts, the interesting points, the must-know tidbits.
What else would you add to the list? Has anyone successfully switched niches? What worked for you?

3 comments:

  1. Katie:

    I'm all about niches. I've used a steady freelance gig for a single client to explore a new niche with that and other clients. For example, earlier in my career I wrote almost exclusively about tech. One weekly tech publication where I was a contributing editor had some back of the book sections for book reviews, workplace issues and other subjects that were tangentially related to tech. So in addition to the regular writing I did for them, I started offering myself as a writer for some of those sections, most specifically workplace issues stories. Right about the same time, a former colleague of mine joined an HR industry trade magazine and started bugging me to write for her. The little toehold I'd developed writing about workplace issues for the first client gave me confidence to pitch and accept assignments from the second, and a small but growing list of sources in the industry to draw from. That was years ago. The first client has long since gone out of business, but the second one is going strong, and I've been a contributing editor there for close to five years. I recently used the work I've done there as a springboard for a regular blogging gig covering workplace, career and retirement issues for a consumer publication for people over 40, which is quickly becoming one of my new niches.

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