As I get further into a strictly-freelance career, I’m finding the road paved with tough choices. It all feels very make or break as I try to identify my work in a way that will make it the most appealing to potential clients — my “brand.” One of the biggest choices I’ve had to make so far? Diversity vs. The Niche.
Ask any freelancer and they’ll fall soundly into one camp or the other:
- Team Diversity: You HAVE to be diverse in this business. If you can’t write about everything, you’re narrowing your own opportunities.
- Team Niche: You absolutely MUST specialize in one area. No one will want to hire you unless you’re an expert in their field.
So which is it?
Personally, I’ve chosen to embrace the “Diversity” approach – mostly because my portfolio’s patchwork-like properties fit in well with that strategy. My past and current work is all over the map — blog posts, magazine articles, technical manuals, marketing blurbs, whatever pays the bills. Subjects run the gamut from child safety to staff bios to cheesy Hallmark holidays to haute couture. I currently have four blogs –(1) a potty-mouthed, ridiculously obnoxious humor blog, (2) a family-friendly blog about local Austin activities, (3) a professional blog that “sells” me and (4) an anonymous journal where I purge the evils of the day (and no, don’t ask — I’ll never tell).
Specialize? I wouldn’t even know where to start!
I suppose it would be nice to be an “expert” in something other than spilling coffee on myself (which I do with alarming frequency). It would be great to have a steady, stable income pouring in from work in one particular subject, without having to research and question and learn for each piece from the ground up.
But that also sounds kind of boring.
One of the things I like most about this freelance gig is the variety it lends to every day. It’s such a refreshing change from the vanilla condition of state government work. A niche might bring me a steadier stream of work, sure… but what about variety? What about challenge?
The jobs I get the most excited about are the ones most unlike anything I’ve ever done before. I was recently approached to write a series of racy short stories for a local erotica magazine, which is completely outside of my comfort zone, terrifying, nerve-racking — and I could not be more excited to get started. I can’t imagine I’d get that butterflies-in-the-stomach feeling very often if I were a purely “niche” writer, and for me, that’s a deal breaker.
So in the grand battle of One Focus vs. Many, I’m happy with the side I’m on. Now let’s see where it takes me!