Freelance Friday: To Specialize or Not to Specialize

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As a freelance writer, there are many avenues that one can take (so much so that I’d need a full day to get through it all). For me personally, I find that I really enjoy copywriting– particularly in the HR Tech sector. Majority of the work that I do is writing in that field. To keep things fresh and work on my creative writing, I also work with universities writing alumni profiles. For me, it’s not only fun, but a great way to brush up on my writing skills.There are many schools of thought as to whether one should have a niche or specialize in a certain topic. I’ve read that some freelancers prefer to write on any and everything– while others stick to a certain niche. Personally I like sticking to my chosen fields, as a) I enjoy them and b) it’s more lucrative in my opinion. So here are a few pros and cons about each dealing specifically with the copywriting side of things.

Specializing: Pros

  • You know the industry, organizations really appreciate when contract writers understand their business.
  • Helps writers and companies communicate and have a better understanding of the project overall (Less confusion and likelihood of a ton of revisions/headaches etc.).
  • Technically, you don’t have to work as hard. If you’re current on the trends, you can focus more on the writing and less on whether you understand the project
  • It’s more lucrative– meaning that it may only take you an hour do a blog post on something you’re familiar with rather than two hours from research and all that jazz
  • You have authority (companies look to you when brainstorming on project. This equals more trust, projects, you get the picture).

Specializing Cons:

  • Depending on what field you choose (i.e. basketweaving or fingerless gloves), work may dry up, causing you to find other areas to write in
  • You could burn out– it could get boring or you may not like the subject matter

Not Specializing Pros:

  • More writing options (the world is your oyster).
  • Diverse projects (you never get the same thing twice, lower chance of getting bored)
  • More money (if and I strongly emphasize IF you’re awesome at juggling multiple fields, you can do well).

Not Specializing Cons:

  • You’re less credible to companies (jack of all trades master of none)
  • More work/research (you spend a good portion looking up and trying to learn about an industry)
  • It’s harder to pitch to companies (if you’re trying to work in high-powered industries, they’re going to want to see if you know your stuff)
  • The scope of the project can get lost in translation (the liaison for the company may have to break things down for you, wasting more time than them actually writing the material themselves)
  • You may never hit your stride (for me personally, the thought of having to learn new industries– in terms of writing white papers and case studies– would be incredibly daunting.

My Two Cents:

I find that specializing is the best route as it helps you navigate your freelance business– especially if you do a lot of copywriting. You understand the sector, thus giving you a better understanding of what organizations in that field need from you. Of course, you need to choose a field that makes sense and can give you a means of sustaining yourself. Health IT is a good sector as a) health is important to everyone and isn’t going anywhere and b) there are a plenty of companies that you could pitch to who would have use for freelancers. Having said that, I’m sure not specializing has it’s upsides too, so I’m definitely not knocking it. So that’s it for now. What’s your plan of attack for freelancing?

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