If you’ve ever thought about targeting a new freelance writing market but felt like it would be too much work, this post is for you. Pursuing a new specialty can sometimes mean starting over from a blank slate, but that doesn’t have to be the case. And today we’ll consider an alternative.
Let’s look at why you might want to target a new freelance writing market, why starting over from scratch can be an unnecessary headache, and what you can do instead for a more successful transition of specialties.
Why Target a New Freelance Writing Market?
There are a number of reasons you might want to target a new freelance writing market at some point during your career.
- You need to overcome decreasing demand or niche saturation in your existing target market.
- You want to become a stronger specialist in a narrower niche.
- You’d like to attract higher-paying clients than your current market provides.
- You’re bored or otherwise tired of the same old routine.
Ultimately, deciding to target a new freelance writing market means something isn’t working for you anymore. There’s a problem continuing as-is. Or you see new opportunities you haven’t yet explored.
Deciding to target a new market or specialty isn’t your only consideration though. After deciding you’re ready for change, there’s something else you’ll need to choose: Will you take advantage of what you’ve already built, or will you start over from scratch?
Why Starting Over in a Completely New Freelance Writing Market Isn’t Ideal
When you think about pursuing a new market, you might assume that means starting over. But that isn’t necessarily the case. And I highly recommend against fully starting over when possible.
Starting over in a completely new freelance writing market or specialty means:
- rebuilding your professional reputation with a new client base;
- building a new online presence;
- creating all new marketing material (including website copy);
- building entirely new client relationships.
That’s not to say this is impossible. But unless you have a good reason to move completely out of your current specialty, and you’re prepared for what that means, doing so can hold you back.
This also applies to adding an unrelated specialty without giving up your current market. That can sometimes be even more difficult because marketing your work to multiple very different audiences means more marketing time (and sometimes budget) overall.
What to do Instead
Whenever possible, I recommend choosing a new specialty that aligns with your existing freelance writing work.
That might mean:
- expanding your current niche;
- choosing a narrower, more focused specialty within your broader current market;
- targeting a parallel or complementary market.
Let’s say you currently write about dog ownership for pet publications.
You might expand that niche to cover other common pets.
You could narrow that niche to focus on a specific breed or other focus area, like training.
Or you might target a complementary market such as veterinary offices to write their newsletters on a freelance basis, or targeting pet supply or pet food manufacturers to handle their blog and newsletter content.
This allows for significant flexibility.
In the example above, each option is aligned closely enough with your current specialty that you won’t have to start over from scratch.
You won’t need a new professional website. You can update what you have with a new service page. Or add to your service list if you don’t maintain service-specific pages.
You won’t need to seek a completely new client base. And your existing clients would still make great testimonials or referral sources.
Your existing work in your portfolio would still directly showcase your expertise in your specialty area, or a closely-aligned subject matter area.
You won’t likely have to change your business branding (if you have a brand beyond your name).
When you target a new freelance writing market that aligns with your existing specialty, you get the benefits of pursuing something new without the risk of leaving your past work, referrals, and branding behind.
That’s not to say it’s always a bad thing to start over from scratch in an entirely new niche or industry. You might find yourself drawn to a calling or passion very different from your current freelance writing focus.
In my next post, we’ll look at an example of that when I talk with Sharon Hurley Hall about her recent transition to anti-racism writing and what you can learn from her experience moving into a specialty outside her prior work.