Friday, May 25, 2012

Working Friday: Niche

I've decided that I don't talk about work nearly enough, so I am instituting a Friday theme on work.

Here is the thing about writing and editing: it's a pretty open field. You can do almost anything in communications: work for big business, banks, newspapers, magazines, and even freelance. There's volunteering, interning, contract, and in-house work. Most of us do some combination of these or all of these things at any given time.

I've worked as both an editor and a writer in technical documentation. I've volunteered for the newsletter of a non-profit organization. I've edited PhD dissertations (copy editing, mind you), the Ministry of Education papers, and role playing game manuals. I've done resumes, web pages, and SEO articles. I've blogged for pay. I've written a magazine article.

It's quite a variety. Here's what I have discovered about myself: I am incredibly attracted to editing because I like making a piece that was decent into something fabulous. However, I've also been stiffed the most when I do editing. Since I cannot eat my fingers or pay the mortgage with monopoly money, I tend to steer away from editing these days. Turns out I am practical like that.

I love that I can get information from people and make it into something that stands out. When I wrote about purified water in manufacturing industries, it was amazing to mine the information from industry experts and put together an article that was concise and readable. My Mother read it and understood what they were doing and how! (Mom is a nurse and has no background in water processes at all.) When I read something that makes my eyes glaze over, I know that this is not the kind of writing I want to produce at all. I am obsessed with readability, audience, and presentation.

Writing, editing, interviewing and researching are skills that are transferable from one end of the writing spectrum to the other. So why do I have a hard time keeping my freelance business afloat?

I've been doing work on this question. It seems that one reason for my lack of work is a lack of niche. As a generalist, it is harder to sell my skills. I've spent time reading articles about niches and talking about the kind of work I like to do the most. After a lot of conversation, thinking, and writing, I have a handle on where I am going.

I've enjoyed writing articles the most, whether they were for SEO or magazines. With a background in technical writing and a vast interest in projects in and around the house, I am gunning for the DIY market. I'm also interested in writing on health topics and parenting themes. So, as I develop my focus, I am striking out again and pushing back at an industry that leaves me flying high one moment and laying flat on the ground the next. It's a wild ride, but it's my path. If you have any connections or suggestions, I am happy to take all the help I can get.

No comments: