It’s definitely no secret that—in spite of what a lot of gurus will tell you—I strongly advise you not to choose a niche when you’re first starting out.
Why not? Well, this article about avoiding niches will explain it in more detail but, suffice it to say that choosing a niche when you’re first starting out limits your portfolio and limits your job and work options.
And, what’s worse, it may limit you to a niche that you may not even end up liking or an industry or niche that’s not broad enough to support you.
When you’re first starting out, you need to make your portfolio as broad and deep as possible, with lots of different media (emails, banner ads, print ads, brochures, etc.) and lots of different industries.
The key to this niche rule are the words “when you’re first starting out.”
Once you’ve established a broad portfolio and a good amount of experience in several different industries and types of media, you can start narrowing your focus.
By then, you’ll start to have an idea of what types of work you like to do, and for whom. You’ll also have a good feel for which industries and areas have ample work and opportunities, and which don’t.
It’s only at this point—when you’ve been working as a copywriter for at least two or three years and you’ve had a broad range of writing experience—that you can consider specializing.
The benefit to specializing at that point is that you can not only focus your marketing outreach, but you can also focus your marketing messages. Your blog posts, your ads, your networking can all be focused on this industry.
You should spend some time deciding exactly what constitutes your perfect client and your perfect work so that you can craft your message to appeal to those people and that opportunity. What industry do you want to write copy for? What size company? On-staff, contracting, or freelance? Digital or print?
This is also the time to revise your USP. You need to nail down not just what sets you apart as a copywriter for any client, but what sets you apart as a copywriter for your intended client.
What can you say about yourself that will convey just how perfect you are for your desired client? What makes you right for the project or job? What kind of outcomes can you create for this client that no one else can?
If you’re going to specialize, your goal is to become the go-to expert for your chosen niche. You may find, too, that even after you specialize, you’ll benefit from making your target even more specific to help you meet that goal.
As long as the market has the work to support you, the narrower your focus, the easier it is to define your target prospects, make yourself a presence in their networks, build relationships there, and land work.
Your turn! Are you at the two-to-three year work mark yet? Are you considering specializing? Why or why not? Let us know in the comments below!