Monday, April 13, 2009

To Specialize or Not: The Freelancer's Conundrum

Deciding whether or not to specialize as a writer for a particular industry is an issue many writers go back and forth about. Some of us are big advocates for writers finding a specialty. There are so many areas where writers can find a niche that it's just impossible to name them all. Travel, agriculture, education, pets, parenting and so forth. There are some specialties that allow you to learn-as-you-go, but others like medical writing or writing copy for attorneys require a familiarity with the industry lingo.

Becoming an expert

Although many freelance writers advocate specializing as a way to command higher pay, the decision requires a lot more consideration. Some things to think about include:
· Do you depend on your income as a freelance writer to survive?
· Is there a market for the type of specialized writing services you will provide?
· Will you need in-depth experience, or will a good grasp of knowledge coupled with expert researching skills be enough?

If enough business exists, you could wind up doing very well for your self, and even become known as the "go-to" person in that field. Being considered an expert can be very advantageous. It's often a lot easier to write for a market you have a concentrated amount of experience with since you may not need to spend as much time on research.

Variety is the spice of life

On the other hand, writing for general markets is a very attractive option for many writers, especially those who are just starting out. Generalizing allows you to work on many different projects within many different industries. Some writers end up finding a niche this way while others continue to enjoy the variety.

Lot's of people underestimate what it takes to be a good generalist. It requires good writing skills and excellent researching skills. You probably won't be an expert in your client's field, so the ability to locate the right resources that give you the voice of an authority is key.

The choice is yours

The great thing about being a freelance writer is that you can always try something out first to see if it works. You can try specializing for a specific market for a while to see how things go. If things go well – great! If not, you can always go back to being a generalist and vice versa. In the end you do what's best for you as a writer and your business.

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