The biggest fork in the road of freelance writers is whether to become a generalist writer or a specialist writer. Do you want to be a general writer or a specialized one? Spread your wings and write a variety of topics or zoom in on specific markets and become an expert? Be a Jack-of-all-Trades or be a Master of One?
This is a problem for both newbies and oldies. It can be satisfying to the generalist but it can also get boring to the specialist. Most of those oldies with extensive years as a writer most likely started out as a general writer and gradually moved into a specific niche.
I started out a general writer because I just love variety! The word freelance begins with my favorite word – FREE! Free to choose a topic, free to choose a format, free without specializing! The result: My mind was exposed to so many things, I could be a daily winner in Jeopardy!
But the years have grown on me and my needs have changed. It has come to a point to heed the advice of my freelancer friends – from being a general writer, you have to niche down. And so I decided to write about writing to help writers from all walks of life at all stages in their writing lives and give valuable writers’ tips. I’m now considered a specialized writer.
But let’s not get too ahead here. Let’s explore both fields because I actually love both.
Newbies will benefit from being a generalist because of the widest selection of subjects they are free to choose from – it’s the perfect way to gain experience. No restrictions here, the possibilities and opportunities are endless. And if one feels a topic is too hard or isn’t working, stop and move on to another – just keep on writing.
After a few successful posts, the newbie will now build a portfolio that can grow quickly and then decide whether to stick to general writing or dip his hand in niche writing. He can just choose from his portfolio on which one he can be an expert in.
Imagine the fun in doing what you love and getting paid for it. It’s never a working day for the freelance writer! He can hop from one subject to another, he can learn through research topics that were Greek to him, explore uncharted territories and ideas, meet all kinds of people and expand his knowledge horizons. It’s never a dull moment!
The only downside is that sometimes it takes a longer time to do the research on topics especially new ones which you are unfamiliar with. So try not to take on too many at one time or you might miss deadlines. Choose what whets your writing appetite but know your limitations.
The best part of being a generalist freelancer is that among the myriad of subjects he’s written about, there will be one that sticks out because it’s closest to his heart or roused his interest more than the others. It is the best way of finding out which niche to specialize when the urge to move out of being a general writer is too strong.
So now you’re way past being a newbie freelancer and want to move on and become a niche writer. Probably, you’ve been told that it pays more. But since writing is an art, that’s not your first consideration! So what subject will you chose to hone? The choices are so many; it’s like choosing from a Quiznos menu!
The specialist writer loves his field and knows this like that back of his hand from his many researches, thereby branding himself as a sort of “expert specialist writer.” Readers will take notice of him, rely on him for his expertise and take his writing seriously. Editors will consider him as a dependable source of masterful content. And on the plus side, this means a steady flow of work and a substantial source of income. And it doesn’t stop there!
A specialist freelance writer can use this experience to promote himself to more websites of the same niche. His reputation will only get bigger.
So what will it be?
There are those who refuse to become specialist writers saying the road is too narrow. They don’t get the gratifying feeling of being exposed to so many different fields. But those who do specialize contend that since they’re passionate about their field, it only increases their knowledge even more. Ask them anything, they can babble all they want in an engaging manner.
The choice is yours! Again, it’s never about the money. But however you choose to go further into your craft, always remember, writing is satisfying and liberating! This is what is called the writer’s high!