Writing Outside Your Niche: Tips for Researching and Writing Clear Content
Any seasoned freelance writer will advise you to venture outside your comfort zone. Tackling unfamiliar topics will round out your experience and increase your earning potential.
Why Consider Writing Outside Your Niche?
There’s nothing wrong with having a niche. If you’re an expert on medieval wedding customs or ukulele classics, you’re bound to build a cult following and earn money. However, limiting yourself to one niche is a little like saying you’ll never date anyone with green eyes. It’s like turning up your nose at zucchini noodles before you’ve tried them. Increase your earnings with the following tips on expanding your horizons. It might just be time to consider writing outside your niche.
Don’t Limit Yourself
Let’s say that Scandinavian art history is your thing. That’s a great niche, but don’t be too hasty to scroll away from roofing assignments. Even roof shingles can be intriguing when your rent is due.
What’s more, content that’s completely outside your wheelhouse might be in hot demand. If you’re not interested in HVAC, recycling or cutting-edge software, pretend that you are. You’ll be pleasantly surprised when you learn something new and earn money all at the same time.
In other words, go ahead and and embrace that uncomfortable feeling when you write outside your niche. That green-eyed new neighbor could be your soulmate. Zucchini noodles could transform your life. Roofing content could be interesting and highly lucrative. You’ll never know unless you try.
Approach an unfamiliar topic in baby steps. Choose an assignment with a manageable word count that calls for general, easy-to-find information. It should target average consumers rather than experts.
“Five Questions to Ask When Choosing a Roofer” is a good example. Get your feet wet before you dive into “Saltbox or Jerkinhead? 80 Roof Styles Explained.”
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Choose Quality Sources
If you search “roofing” on the internet, you’ll get close to 200 million results. Here are some tips on being selective:
- First, check dates. It’s discouraging to write 600 words on the latest materials only to realize that your source article was written in 1997.
- Look for authoritative sources. Industry leaders, respected publications, government agencies and universities are good bets.
For example, epa.gov, energystar.gov and nrca.net — the website of the National Roofing Contractors Association — are excellent resources for roofing. For career information, the Bureau of Labor Statistics at bls.gov is a gold mine. Harvard.edu publishes studies on a surprising range of topics.
- Even if you’re just doing research and challenging yourself to write outside your niche, be careful with company websites and blogs. Some are helpful, but use discretion. Has the roofer been in business for a while? Does the company belong to industry associations? Are there glowing customer testimonials?
Take care with affiliate bloggers as well. They earn a commission on sales of products they endorse. Make sure that the experts back up their advice.
- As a freelance writer, let integrity guide you. Question everything. If you find only one source that claims it’s a good idea to install new shingles on top of old ones, that source is probably wrong.
Spreading misinformation makes Textbroker look bad. It makes you look bad. If something raises red flags in your mind, investigate.
Invest Time In Research
Doing some homework up front pays off in the long run. Don’t skip these steps when you’re starting to write outside your niche:
- Read a handful of quality articles that cover the basics. Why is roof maintenance important? How does roofing enhance curb appeal and increase home value? How long should a roof last?
- Compare articles. Look for facts on which all the experts agree. Make note of bullet points or emphasized text.
- Bookmark good resources that have links to more in-depth information. They’ll come in handy as you get more comfortable writing on various aspects of a topic.
- For easy reference, create folders organized by subject matter.
Once you have the basics of a topic down, you’ll have less research to do going forward. You can touch on the fundamentals but focus on the specifics of each assignment.
Make An Outline
By this time, your head is most likely bursting with new knowledge. That doesn’t mean you have to use it all.
To avoid going off on rabbit trails, make an outline. Let the order title, target audience and requested keywords dictate your content and layout. If the title is “Best Roofs for Cold Climates,” then you needn’t cover roofing scams in detail.
Know Your Limitations
While you shouldn’t limit yourself, you should know your limitations. Some clients expect professional-quality articles on finance, disease, law or engineering. There’s no shame in passing on an order if you know that you’re in over your head.
Just keep building on your knowledge in a wide range of topics. Before long, you’ll be an expert in lots of different niches.
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