After yesterday's guest post, it seems a number of people agree with Rebecca - being a generalist is a good thing. I'll agree, to an extent. It certainly is nice not to be boxed into writing about only one topic. It is important to stretch outside of your writer's comfort zone and challenge yourself personally and professionally with new topics and sources.
Still, I think it is important to have a niche. A niche gives you a shoe-in for projects. As I mentioned in the post defining a niche, mine is business writing, specifically commercial real estate. Is it the most thrilling topic all the time? No, not at all. Are there amazing aspects to it? Yes! Having this niche was something that happened to me, without any real foresight on my part. I took a number of jobs early on that focused in this area and suddenly it's my field of expertise.
This subject matter has helped me land countless freelance jobs. I've worked on and off for a number of years for several national commercial real estate publications. I wrote a freelance piece for the New York Times, the Chicago Tribune special sections, and have now landed additional assignments from construction and building publications.
The ability to tell a potential client about your deep knowledge on the subject matter, gives you one-up over the competition. The fact that you know the key players and all ready have contacts in your niche area, further solidifies your worthiness for the job.
One the other hand, being a generalist means you have lots of basic knowledge and contacts. But it means you don't have the full pulse of the subject matter.