Freelance Writing – Should You Specialize?

writingWhen it comes to freelance writers, there are two main types.  First, there are the generalized freelance writers (such as myself) who will write on virtually any topic that they are hired for.  Then, the second type, is the specialized type of freelance writer who chooses one or more specific topics that they write about, and that’s all they do.  For example, a health writer will only take jobs about health related issues.

There are advantages and disadvantages of each type of writer, and every freelancer will have to choose what they want to do.  Of course, you can always change as well if you find you don’t like what you’re doing.  You can also be something of a hybrid of the two, where you’ll write on any topic, but you really specialize in one area and you spend most of your time looking for clients in that niche.

Benefits of Generalized Writers

From my years of experience as a general freelance writer, I’ve found there to be many great benefits of going this route.  The following are some of the most important benefits I’ve found:

  • Not so Repetitive – While I have some regular clients where I write about the same topics all the time, I also have other orders that come in about all sorts of different things.  I like the fact that I get to ‘spice it up’ a little bit and write on a wide range of different things.  My wife laughs at me because I’m always mentioning different local businesses in different parts of the world, because I do a lot of writing for a company that offers local SEO services.  For example, when she says I need a haircut, I may say that I know a great place for an excellent haircut and straight razor shave in New Jersey, and another one in Texas.  (Ok, I didn’t say my jokes were good…Or that my wife’s laughs weren’t more out of pity than thinking that I am funny.)
  • Educational – I have learned many different things about many different topics because of my writing.  One week I may be hired to write a few articles about a rare medical condition, the next it might be writing about a political situation on the other side of the world.  In my research for these jobs, I have learned many interesting things!
  • Lots of Work – Obviously, if you will write about anything, you’ll have many more opportunities to find work.  It is a lot easier to find jobs when you can look for them in every niche vs. being so focused.

Benefits of Specialized Freelance Writing

While I’m not a specialized freelance writer, I do know that there are some great benefits to going this route.  I’ve talked to some people who specialize, and read some blog posts of these types of people, and I can definitely see the attraction.  From what I know, these are the benefits of specializing as a freelance writer:

  • Higher Pay per Article – Just like a neurosurgeon gets paid more than a family doctor, writers who specialize can make a lot more money.  It takes time and work (just like medical school?) but it can really pay off.  Once you’ve built a reputation as a top writer in a specific niche, you can make $1 per word or even more (if you are in the right niche).
  • Reduced Research – While initially you’ll have to do a lot of research, that will taper off over time.  As you become an expert in your chosen niche, you can typically write with minimal research.
  • Fewer Clients – You can work with a smaller number of clients, which can make keeping track of things much easier.
  • Smarter Clients – Hopefully my clients don’t get offended at this, lol.  What I mean, however, is that clients who are willing to pay for a specialized writer know EXACTLY what they are looking for.  They will explain it clearly, and the write can just get right to work.

I’m sure there are many other benefits to both sides of this fence.  I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences in the comments below!

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Comments

  1. says

    Your article is a very good distinction between the general and specialized freelance writer. I am like you, I like to write about more than one topic! I like variety in life and so it goes with my writing!

    I cannot imagine anyone would pay $1 per word unless the article is written specifically for showcasing inside a magazine. I find it hard to believe that any website would pay $500 for a 500 word article; although I do know a girl who gets $100 per 500 words.

    Not as highly lucrative as $500 for the same article, but you have to start somewhere! 🙂
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    • says

      Yeah, that can work well. I am a very generalized writer, but I also have a lot of experience in IT and have a few IT certifications so I tend to get quite a few clients looking for that type of work. I also charge a bit more for that type of thing.

      Michael

    • says

      Yeah, I’ve never made that, but I have talked to a guy who did/does. He specialized in a specific type of legal writing and worked exclusively for attorneys. Obviously he had a specialized skill set, but he wasn’t a lawyer himself or anything. I’m not sure what type of educational background he had, but it took him quite a while to get up to that point I think.

      Michael

  2. Ellen Rozsa says

    Helpful article for me, a newbie trying to find a place to start writing. Many years ago, before I got married and had kids, I was a newspaper reporter and got paid for writing. Not much, mind you, but it was steady and predictable. It was almost a visceral shock to visit sites freelancing websites like Elance and see just how low the going rate is, when you are at the bottom of the food chain. When I was a journalist the internet was in its infancy and native English writers didn’t have to compete globally. Still, I try to hang on to hope that with English fluency and years of life experience, there is a niche for me, somewhere!

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