So, you’re trying to decide on a niche for your copywriting business…
It’s Monday, which means it’s time to open up my mailbox for our weekly Mailbox Monday issue.
You send in your most pressing questions about marketing, business, selling, copywriting, or anything else… And I answer them!
Today’s question is all about how to pick a niche for your copywriting business…
I am so ready to become a Freelance Copywriter, I can not figure out how to select a niche.
I feel I would like researching, my question is can I market myself as a researcher?
The power of picking a niche…
First off, this is a smart question. Because it can be incredibly advantageous to pick a niche.
Here’s the thing. Many businesses will ask what kind of experience you have in their niche before hiring you as a freelancer or outside consultant.
There is a reason for this. It’s not just that they want an insider. It’s that in every niche, there are certain intricacies to buyer behavior, business model, product line, and all sorts of other aspects of the business and marketing. Working with someone who already understands this just makes life easier.
Plus if you have experience in a niche, you will likely have some understanding of what has worked before, and what hasn’t. This only increases your likelihood of success in helping them.
And this advantage only grows through time.
For example, in the investment market, one of the first things you learn is the types of promotions that tend to work for selling investment publications. There is the single stock promo, the system promo, the market opportunity promo, the macro fear promo, and a handful of others.
But once you’ve written in the market for at least one bull market cycle and one bear market cycle, you start to get a much better sense of what works when, so you can start to lead the market as you notice cycles changing.
That’s an entirely different level of sophistication that only comes through extended experience in a niche.
And while the cyclical nature of the market may be a bit unique to investing, each market and niche has its intricacies that will only be learned through some experience.
If you understand my model about the architecture of a skill, you will know that principles and strategies are pretty universal between markets. However you will also know that techniques and tactics are often adapted to each market, and that is the kind of learning you will develop as you spend time in any niche.
So let’s move on…
Six considerations in picking a niche for your copywriting business…
This is not the kind of decision that I can make for you. However I can hopefully guide you based on my more than a decade in the business, and my experience in working as a copywriter, as well as teaching, supervising, speaking with, and befriending many other copywriters.
Here are six considerations to help you choose the best niche for your copywriting business.
- Look for a copywriting niche that aligns with your passion…
Passion alone will not create a profitable copywriting business. Just because you love something does not mean people will be willing to pay you for it. However, because you will spend so much time in it, it is helpful to find something you can at least rally your personal passion and excitement around. Find something that interests you, because you need to be interested in order to write interesting things.
- Look for the big money opportunities…
The two biggest, most lucrative niches for copywriters are wealth and health, in that order. That doesn’t mean you can’t make a good living in other niches. However you are starting with an advantage if you choose one of those two. The downside is that they are more competitive. The upside is that they have a ton of opportunity for copywriters, and they pay well. In general, niches that have bigger businesses running lots of direct response copy will tend to be the niches that pay copywriters well.
- Also consider market size when picking your copywriting niche…
I once sold foam wing cutting instructions for model airplane builders. It was a great way to learn marketing, but it was a horrible niche for copywriting. We owned the market and didn’t sell more than $1000 worth per month. Big consumer markets especially tend to have a lot of opportunity for copywriters. That’s a great place to start when considering which inches you might want to write for.
- Don’t forget your life experience…
You have a ton of experience already. You have interests already. You’ve probably bought a lot of things already. I don’t know what they are, but you do. And they may be worth considering when it comes time to pick a copywriting niche. Because all the experience you have around a topic or market will only help you speak to the customers on a much deeper level.
- Look for local opportunities…
If you’re just getting started, one of the best ways to get good experience is to get a gig working full time inside an entrepreneurial, direct marketing oriented business. And unless you want to move across the country, you may want to consider niches that have a local presence. It doesn’t have to be your final destination, but this can be a great way to get more general experience, as well as more specialized experience. Remember, I spent my first five years as a copywriter in a full-time job selling IT training. Then I launched my freelancing career selling business opportunities and self-help programs. And now I work with financial publishers.
- Figure out if they hire copywriters…
And here I mean copywriters by name. Nearly every business needs copy written for them. But not every business understands what a copywriter is, what they do, or what makes them so valuable. If you do truly want to be the kind of direct response copywriter that tends to be most attracted to these daily essays, then you probably want to go with the shortcut of looking for businesses that hire copywriters by name. If you are happy to do something like Facebook advertising, or email marketing, or lead generation, or anything else… Then look for businesses hiring with those descriptions. Either way, looking for opportunities that align with what you want is a very smart strategy when looking for a niche.
Should you specialize in research for copywriters?
Since this question was asked, I will answer it here.
I was once involved with the program that taught how to get paid doing research for copywriters.
There was nothing fundamentally wrong with that opportunity, it was based on people succeeding in that role, and there are companies that currently hire researchers to help their copy and editorial departments.
That said, the opportunity has a lot less upside than copywriting, and is far less appealing to me as a standalone versus a stepping stone opportunity.
I think the people who had the best success with that program were people who were interested in using the research program as a stepping stone to building a copywriting career.
Any great copywriter is a researcher first.
Most of my best ideas come out of relentless research.
And if you are a good researcher, and enjoy research, it’ll actually help you as a copywriter.
Pretty much all of my copy involves finding ideas and proof points in research, organizing them together in a narrative outline that makes sense, and then rewriting the whole thing in my own words. Yes, you have to be careful not to sound too academic when you do this. But really all of the best copywriting is mixing and matching and mashing up well researched ideas into a new compelling narrative.
I would tend to tell you that you should not specialize in research as your fundamental value proposition. Instead, I would focus on being a copywriter who understands and enjoys research.
One final thought about picking your niche…
Life is long. Careers are long. Change is the only constant.
You can choose a niche now, but you are not married to it. I hope that you reinvent yourself many times well into the future. Sometimes that can be reinventing yourself inside of a niche, and sometimes it can involve moving from one niche to another.
If you are thoughtful and attentive, you will be able to carry learnings from niche to niche to niche. So that even if you have to take one step back to learn a new market, will soon be taking two steps forward because of all the experience you bring with you.
Some copywriters right for a couple niches at a time. Others go all in on a single niche. There’s no right way and wrong way, there’s only moving forward or standing still.
So don’t wait to take action until you’ve picked a niche.
Instead go out and seize the day.
Find a client, find a gig, do the work and get paid.
Then do it again, and again, and again.
At some point, you’ll look back and realize that you’ve started to beat your own path. And it’s likely that that path at least passes through a niche or two that worked well for you.
At that point you should have a pretty good idea of how to choose a niche…
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,
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