Writing Tips: Specialize With Niches

Writing Tips: Specialize With Niches

I’m working with my personal coaching students on finding their niches as specialist writers. They asked for some writing tips which would help. I  thought they might help other writers too. So here we go. :-)

A huge amount of content is being published today. On one marketing blog, I saw research to suggest that 90 per cent of businesses were investing a third of their marketing budgets into social media in 2014. It’s no surprise then, that around 3.5 MILLION blog posts are published each day.

With so much content pouring onto the Web in a never-ending flood, you need to be able to stand out.

Here’s the solution: specialization. Choosing to specialize puts you into a smaller niche, so that you can quickly become known in that niche.

I should tell you that for many years I avoided specializing. I deliberately tried to be a generalist, covering many topics. I say “tried” because specialization crept up on me. So if you find developing a specialty hard — you’re not sure what you should choose — don’t worry about it too much. Clients will hire you, and when you do more work for them, you’ll turn into a specialist without being aware of it.

An example. A client in heavy industry hired me to create the company’s monthly newsletter. The first few months were a real challenge, because I didn’t know or understand the industry. Over time, I read a lot, and talked to lots of people. Gradually, I got up to speed. Before I knew it, I was writing for a mining company, and a manufacturer of oil rig machinery. I’d developed a specialty despite myself.

Let’s look at some ways in which you can find areas in which you want to specialize.

1. What do you LOVE?

Love trumps everything else. I love writing, and I enjoy teaching. However, neither of these areas pays particularly well. My enjoyment more than makes up for it however. Sometimes a specialty will choose you. You specialize in an area because you spend a lot of time thinking, reading and writing about the area.

What do you spend all your time talking, thinking and reading about? It may turn out to be a specialty, once you start writing about the area.

You can specialize in odd things: things most people wouldn’t dream of. One of my students was a real fan of gossip and celebrity websites. She joined forums to catch up on the latest gossip. A forum owner asked her to become a moderator, and she did. This led to her writing a regular column for a website. Then she was asked to assess manuscripts for a literary agent. When I last contacted her, she was still moderating, and writing regularly for a large website. She managed to turn gossip into a career. Who knew?

2. What do you do in your day job?

One of my students was in human resources. Careers, jobs, and job hunting is a huge area, and it’s a great specialty. However, even though she worked in the area, my student had never considered that she already had a specialty.

What about you? What do you do in your day job? A great specialty may have found you. :-)

3. What are your hobbies?

My favorite hobby is reading. However, if your hobby is sports-related — you’re a tennis player, or golfer, or you’re up to speed on any popular sport — you may have found a great specialty.

Make a list of your hobbies. A writer colleague wrote for technology magazines, and wanted to develop a new career as a travel writer. She loves to travel, and she and her family take trips several times each year. Within six months, she’d established her new career. Now she goes on junkets all over the world, and she’s writing a book on how to travel with small children.

4. What are your dreams?

In our 20s, we have dreams. Our 30s arrive, and real life — a mortgage, and a family — tends to knock our dreams aside.

Think about the dreams you had when you were a child, and a teenager.

A friend wanted to go to art school. However, her family convinced her that she needed to follow the family “trade”. So she became a lawyer. However, she never forgot her dreams, and eventually gave up law, because she found it too stressful. She’s now in her 40s, and she’s about to have her first show of her art work.

What did you dream of, when you were young? If you dreamed of becoming a full-time writer, you can achieve that dream. It’s never too late.

One writer dreamed of living sustainably: having a small farm. The dream was always in the back of her mind. In her 30s, she married a man who came from a farming family. They now own a small farm. They grow their own vegetables, and sell some of them at farmer’s markets. She now writes for many different websites, and is making an excellent career out of her dream.

5. What personal challenges confront you?

Many writers turn their challenges into specialties. You may have a challenge with your health, or with relationships. As you learn more, and discover ways to manage your challenge, you can write about what you discover.

One writer’s mother and aunt both died of breast cancer. She had many tests, and she and her sisters were concerned not only that they might develop the illness, but also that their own daughters might one day be at risk. This writer now works full-time as a marketer for a non-profit group helping women to manage breast cancer.

6. What do you want to learn?

You can write about anything you’re interested in. If you take a course in something, why not write about it?

A teacher who spent a year in France to learn the language and teach it took a course in French cooking. She loved it. When she came home, she took more courses. She also loved to write, so became one of my writing students. When we talked about a specialty, she hadn’t considered food and cooking. Within a year, she was working full-time for an independent TV producer, scripting cooking shows.

7. What pays well?

Some specialties pay more than others. If you enjoy learning and writing about health topics, or business and finance, learn more. Start writing articles for magazines and websites. As you publish more, people will approach you to write about your specialty.

Want more? Check out our online store

Want more help with your writing? Check out our online store. Any programs with “closing” in the title are about to be withdrawn, because we have other programs in the pipeline. You’ll fiction programs on both nonfiction and fiction.

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, and on YouTube, too.

Writing Coach: Instant Coaching (Time-Limited Offering)

writing coach

These days everyone from sports people to business people has a coach. Writers benefit from coaching too. A writing coach can help you with your writing challenges, whatever they may be.

I work with writers every day, and until August 3, you can try out coaching very quickly with our offering for “instant coaching.”

Your challenges: writing, selling your writing, marketing, or … ?

I discussed two of my writing students in yesterday’s article on less stress:

I’ve just been chatting with a writing student who thinks that his writing is going too slowly. He’s written the first draft of a nonfiction book, and is frustrated because he thinks he should be moving through the revision more quickly.

Sadly, he’s lost perspective. In the time we’ve been working together, not only has he planned and written an ebook, he’s planning another one. That’s huge progress.

Writing coaching can help

If you can articulate your challenge, coaching can help. Indeed coaching can prevent disaster. One of my students was ready to delete all the files related to a book she’d worked on for three years. I managed to convince her that such drastic action wasn’t necessary. She’s completed a proposal for her book, and we’re shopping it around literary agents.

Another student wanted to develop a money-making blog, but because there were so many large “authority” blogs in her niche, she’d was intimidated. She felt that her blog would struggle: how could she compete?

We decided that she wouldn’t try to compete. She’d be herself. She has a lot to offer, and all that was needed was for her to acknowledge that. I knew her story was impressive, and I could see her getting media interviews and attention. All she needed was someone to believe in her, and help her to develop a plan for her new blog.

Writing coaching helps you to gain perspective. It also offers solutions.

Our new Instant Coaching program is not only fast and powerful, it’s also guaranteed. Take advantage of the offering, it ends on August 3.

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, and on YouTube, too.

Writing Quotes: How to Avoid Writing Blocks

Here’s one of my favorite writing quotes from poet and writing teacher William Stafford:

“I believe that the so-called ‘writing block’ is product of some kind of disproportion between your standards and your performance… One should lower his standards until there is no felt threshold to go over in writing. It’s easy to write.

“You shouldn’t have standards that inhibit you from writing… It really doesn’t make any difference if you are good or bad today. The assessment of the product is something that happens after you’ve done it.”

writing quotes: stafford

Do you save writing quotes?

I keep a collection of writing quotes for inspiration, and the above quote by William Stafford is one of my favorites. It’s helpful if you’re judgmental of your writing.

Of course you need to judge and edit your writing, but never while you’re writing. If you judge as you’re writing, you’ll choke, and you’ll think that writing is hard.

How to avoid judging your writing while you’re writing…

I’ve found these strategies useful.

  • Pre-write. Create clusters, or mind maps before you start writing;
  • Set a goal for your writing, in writing. Write about what you want to achieve in a couple of sentences. Example: “In this scene, I want to introduce the prime suspect. Our detective realizes that he’s lying about where he was on the night of the murder.”
  • Write. Accept what you’re writing. Writing is always a partnership between your subconscious and your conscious mind. Your subconscious leads, so writing is always discovery. No judging. :-)
  • Once you’ve finished writing, you can read what you’ve written, but don’t start editing immediately. Leave your writing for a few hours if you can.

I agree with Stafford that common writing blocks occur because we’re trying to hit an imaginary standard. (Blocks may also occur if we’re stressed, or unwell.)

As he suggests, lower your standards. You’ll be surprised at how much easier your writing becomes. And you’ll be even more surprised when you meet your own standards, and have fun with your writing. When I’m coaching my writing students, we do lots of exercises so that they train themselves to write easily, without judging.

Here are some writing exercises you can try. They work.

Tip: if you find you’re blocked, you may find my Easy Write Process program useful. It includes lots of exercises.

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, and on YouTube, too.

Fear of Writing: 3 Tips to Help

Fear of Writing: 3 Tips to Help

Do you have a fear of writing? If you do, you avoid writing tasks. You procrastinate.

In professional writers, “fear” often feels like resistance. This resistance may be a good thing, as I shared on Google+:

Usually, when I wake up in the morning, I make a cup of coffee and start writing fiction immediately. It’s easiest for me to write fiction first, before I start writing “real” stuff – nonfiction. I was a little spooked this morning when I opened my email instead.

Why was I resisting? Why, oh why wasn’t I writing?

But I went with it. When I finally opened my fiction WIP, the story took off in an entirely new direction. I’m thrilled. I didn’t work on any fiction at all yesterday; I had a couple of client deadlines. It seems my subconscious mind was gestating a new (and better) direction for this story during the downtime on it. I’m pleased.

Is resistance fear of writing? In the above instance, it wasn’t. I wanted to write, but felt that I wasn’t ready. I knew I’d work on the fiction project at some point during the day.

What about a real fear of writing? Can you write anyway? Yes you can. Try these three tips.

1. Switch Your Brain: Be Happy.

This exercise sounds weird, but it may work for you – quirk your lips to the right, to trigger your left brain:

If you pull the left lip back repeatedly, it can trigger the right brain. You may feel sad. Pulling back the right lip can trigger the left brain, and a feeling of happiness.

Go on, try it. It works for me, and it may work for you. You should feel a sudden little jolt of happiness which will make your writing task seem a lot less intimidating, and more fun.

Read the LEFT BRAIN RIGHT BRAIN article which explains the exercise; it’s interesting. A lot of brain lateralization theory has been debunked, but it’s still a useful way to think about creativity and your brain.

2. Start Writing – Write Stream-of-Consciousness Material for Ten Minutes.

I’ve been using this little trick for a couple of decades, and I teach it to my writing students. It puts you into “creative” mode; writing triggers more writing.

Here’s all you do. Get a timer, and set it for ten minutes. Now start writing, and keep writing. Write anything you like, whatever words pop into your head. There’s only one rule: KEEP WRITING, no matter what, until the timer goes off.

You can type, or write by hand, it’s up to you.

Writing for ten minutes changes your mood. I discovered this when I started a daily walking regime. For the first ten minutes of the walk, I hated it. At around the eleventh minute, I started to enjoy it.

You can apply this “ten minute” rule to lots of things. Just keep doing the task for ten minutes, and you’ll start to enjoy it.

3. “I’m scared of writing because…”

This exercise works if you have a deep-seated aversion to writing. You may need to repeat it several times. If you do, it will remove your fear of writing completely. One of my students practiced this exercise several times a week for a couple of months. He has no problems with fear of writing now.

As with the stream-of-consciousness exercise, set a timer for ten minutes.

Write “I’m scared of writing because…” and keep writing for ten minutes. Try to write in whole sentences if you can. If you can’t, don’t worry about it. Again, write whatever comes. Don’t worry about spelling or grammar, or censoring yourself.

If you wish, you can try this exercise using your non-dominant hand (that is, if you’re right-handed, write with your left hand.)

As we’ve said: if you keep repeating this exercise, eventually you’ll stop being afraid of writing. I’ve no idea why it works, it just does.

So there you have it; three tips to help you to overcome your fear of writing, and make writing fun. :-)

Got a writing challenge? I’ve been helping writers for 20 years. Get in touch.

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, too.