Is writing something you enjoy doing, and you feel like you could somehow turn it into a career?
Do you know that freelance writing is a “thing” that people get paid for, and you’re a decent writer, but think that there’s not much you could write about that someone would be willing to pay you for?
If you answered yes, keep reading.
After calling myself a freelance writer for over a year now, I’m confident I could have started this career a long time ago.
What held me back?
Not realizing that there were a number of topics I could write about that people would actually want to pay me for!
My education and much of my professional experience is in the field of Sport Psychology. I’ve written on mental skills topics for years in various print and online publications, but a lot of this was done for free.
My payment was in exposure and experience (and don’t get me wrong, there is value in this, especially when you’re starting out). But, I kept this mentality for a very long time. It didn’t occur to me for quite a while that my professional background, writing experience, and life experience would allow me to transition into being a paid freelance writer.
It’s common to wonder as a freelance writer, “What would I write about?”, with a related question of “Who would hire me?”
Here’s what I’ve discovered- there are many areas you can likely write about, and probably more people than you think who would be willing to hire you!
Though being a successful freelance writer isn’t just having topics you want to write about and places to apply, it is important to be clear on what you can write about. And, chances are, there are more areas you could create content for than you’ve considered.
How To Choose a Niche
You may have heard that having a niche you write in, and focusing on that, is the best way to go. A niche is helpful because you can be known as a subject matter expert and then possibly charge more for your work. You may be more likely to find recurring clients or have an easier time with a job search when you are focused on one or two types of writing.
While that can be helpful, at the start of a freelance career, I think it’s important to think broad and then possibly narrow in.
Why close yourself off to a type of writing, or a certain topic before you’ve even tried it?
Now, I’m not suggesting you write about anything and everything; instead I want to encourage you to really think about the topics and areas that you’re qualified to write about, and then pursue freelance writing opportunities in those areas.
Here’s how to identify a few topics you could write about:
1. Find topics related to your current and previous employment
To me, this is an obvious starting point. Now, you may not love your current job and this is part of the reason you’re interested in freelance writing, but if you work, or have worked, in an industry that you know well, consider how you might write about topics related to this field. When I look for work on Contena, I’m always amazed at the variety of fields that are represented in the listings.
2. Use your education as a starting point
Your education may have led you to your work, but this isn’t always the case. Perhaps you started out with an arts degree but transitioned into corporate America; you might find a design magazine looking for freelance writers. If you have an advanced degree or work in a specialized field, it’s possible that people would want to hire you to share this knowledge, especially if you’re a skilled writer.
3. Look at your past or current life experiences
Look beyond your daily work life and consider how else you spend your time. For example, maybe you love to travel; you might find travel sites or magazines who would hire you to write as a freelancer.
4. Embrace personal life circumstances
Perhaps you’re living with a disability or parenting a child with special needs. If you’re willing to write about these personal topics, you may be able to help others going through similar experiences. The Mighty accepts contributors; though I don’t believe they pay, this is a great site to get your name out there for topics such as mental health, chronic illness, autism, and more.
5. Explore your hobbies
Are you skilled at knitting? Do you ride horses? Maybe you know far too much about Labradors? Your interests and hobbies could lend themselves well to giving you content for very niched publications.
6. Dive into your local world
Check into your town or region to see if they have any papers or sites that might hire you. I was hired as a freelancer for BayArea.com; these posts had nothing to do with the writing I had previously done, but given where I live, my writing samples, and the ideas for interesting topics that hadn’t been written yet, I was hired.
7. Share your parenting experience
If you’re a parent, and a writer, then this could be an area for you to develop content. I love this post from Elna Cain that lists 12 sites for moms that will pay $100 (or more!) per article. Keep in mind that being a parent doesn’t mean you would be a fit for every potential topic and that you might need to narrow in further, but being a parent can open up freelance writing opportunities.
8. Learn as you go
Are you skilled at research? You might not need to be an expert in an area if you can research about it and write in a way that a reader will relate to. When you’re searching for jobs on sites such as Contena, consider each listing and if it’s something you could write about, even if it means doing additional research.
When it comes to being a freelance writer, there are many topics that you could write about. It’s important to take the time to consider all the areas that you are able to create content about. For example, after freelance writing for over a year, it occurred to me that I could also create content to help other freelance writers!
As you continue to have additional professional and life experiences, and develop additional skills, you’ll likely find that there are more areas you could write about. Though choosing a niche is very helpful for some, I’ve found it enjoyable (and profitable!) to be able to write on a variety of topics.
So- take a few minutes and write down all the topics you could write on, using the above ideas as inspiration.