These days, crazy amounts of money are being thrown around in thousands of potential writing niches.
And if you’re new to the paid writing game, it’s like looking at a swirling whirlpool of choices, and not knowing how — or where — to jump in.
But the reason I’m so committed to helping you navigate these waters is that knowing how to find a profitable niche makes your job as a writer infinitely easier. Nine times out of 10, narrowing your writing focus means more clients with more projects that pay more money.
Plus, those clients tend to be ultra-committed to keeping you at the top of their go-to list because it’s easier than establishing a whole new relationship with a brand-new writer. (Really, this is true for all clients, but it’s especially so in specialty niche markets where fewer people really understand how to write about a product or service.)
Yet even knowing all that, finding a profitable niche that you’ll enjoy can be daunting. So let’s break it down into five incredibly simple steps…
The Money Niche Versus the Passion Niche
Common advice for a new writer trying to find a niche is to:
- Pick something you’re passionate about, and
- Make sure it’s a viable industry.
But what does that even look like?
Right off, I want to clarify the concept of “passion.” It’s a strong word. Searching for a niche you’re passionate about gives the impression you need to adore that niche, throw yourself into it heart and soul, and dream about it every night.
So, let’s dial it back a little. Passion — in this instance — can just mean something you’re interested in, or something you have knowledge about. You don’t have to wake up every morning champing at the bit because you’re so excited to sit down and write about your topic.
You mostly just don’t want your chosen niche to bore you. And it’s easier to work on something if it interests you, right?
Then there’s the concept of “money niches.” These are areas that are in high demand and therefore tend to be extra-profitable — such as weight loss, dating, or health and fitness, to name a few.
These profitable niches are great in the sense that you know there’s money to be made… but they fall flat if you know very little about them or find yourself uninterested in them.
Which means your goal is to settle on something that’s profitable but that you’re also interested in, or that you at least know something about.
The Simplest Steps Ever to Find a Profitable Niche
I’m about to show you a super-simple way to find a niche you can write about where your interests intersect with the potential for profit.
First, ask yourself these five questions:
- What topics are covered by your collection of nonfiction books? Consider both physical and e-books.
- What do you tend to talk about most at parties or dinners with friends?
- Think about the last 10 gifts you received… What were they?
- What do your three closest friends like to do in their spare time?
- Call one relative who knew you while you were growing up and ask that person what they think you’re really good at.
Once you have your answers, pick three different topics. Not one — three. Then complete Steps 2 through 4 for each of those three different topics.
Now go to Google’s free keyword planner. If you don’t already have one, you’ll need to create a Gmail account so you can sign in… but that’s fine, because the price is free.
Once you’re logged in, type your search term or topic into the search box. (If it doesn’t automatically come up, click on Tools, then Keyword Planner, and then “Get search volume and forecasts.” Type your word in the search box and click Enter, then click on Keyword Ideas in the upper left-hand corner and type your word or phrase again.)
When the results come up, look at the “Average monthly searches” column. In most cases you’ll see ranges like “1K–10K” or “10K–100K.”
These numbers are pretty vague, but you want to see at least 10K per month as your minimum number of searches. This tells you whether there’s a decent amount of demand in that niche.
You’ll also want to check Google Trends. This gives you a good idea of whether the trend is on its way out, holding steady, or climbing in popularity.
It’s fine if the trend isn’t climbing — you mostly just don’t want it to flatline. For example, if you do a trend search for “Scrabble tile jewelry,” which our June interviewee Ryan Levesque profited from until the trend fizzled, you’ll see that indeed, that trend has completely died out.
But if you search “ketogenic diets,” which are rising in popularity, you’ll see the trend increasing.
In addition, consider that some trends are seasonal. For example, triathlons mostly take place in the summer months. So it makes sense that searches for “triathlon” die off in the winter and climb back up in the summer.
Next, you’ll want to search the web to see if there are products on sale in your possible niche — both physical and digital. You can do this by visiting Amazon or eBay and keying in words related to your niche.
So, for example, if you want to write for the supplement market and about baby supplements in particular, you’d do a search on these sites for baby supplements. From there, look at what’s available. Read the reviews — and note that for every review listed on Amazon, it’s believed that between 10 and 1,000 people actually purchased the product.
To check for digital products, Clickbank is the way to go. Clickbank runs an affiliate marketplace and serves as the largest online retailer of digital products.
Going back to our example, you could type in “baby supplements” on Clickbank and see multiple digital products come up about holistic nutrition for pregnancy and childbirth, and nutrition guides for raising healthy children (plus another 52 pages of digital products!).
Another sign that your niche topic may be profitable is that it’s covered by a lot of blogs and authoritative sites. This is as easy as a Google search for “best [your niche idea]blogs.”
If a list of blogs comes up for the niche topic you keyed in, then not only is your niche choice affirmed as viable, but you’ve also got a whole list of sources to go to for information and inspiration when writing about the topic.
In addition, you’ll want to check to see if the blogs that come up have comments, social shares, and any kind of a social media following. This gives you great insight into whether the niche is interactive and how easy it is to connect with followers of that niche.
Finally, check to see if any of those blogs have monetized their sites. Are they selling physical or digital products? Do they have affiliate links within their content? This is yet another way to confirm if a potential niche is profitable.
Quick Checkup: Before I go on to Step 5, let me give you a few pointers…
First, a lot of people get hung up on choosing a niche because they think of it like a marriage… that once you choose a topic and let everybody know about it, there’s no going back.
But you know what? Nothing could be further from the truth. I know dozens of writers who’ve written for various niches and then moved on when the time was right. And switching niches didn’t hurt their careers. In fact, any writing you do for a topic that is not your current niche still counts as a viable and impressive professional sample.
So think of your niche choices more like friendships. You meet, you get to know each other, you might spend a lot of time together and stay connected for the rest of your life…
Or you might move on when the time is right.
The other thing I want to point out is that the research above should take you no longer than an hour. In fact, I want you to commit to spending only an hour researching each of your three different topics.
Sure, you could spend days — even weeks — delving into each niche and weighing the pros and cons. But that doesn’t get you any closer to landing paid writing projects, and you’ll find out what you really need to know over the course of an hour’s worth of research.
Chances are that once you’ve researched each idea, one of them will stand above the rest. That’s the one I want you to test first as your writing niche.
And if two or even all three of your ideas seem like viable options and you’re not sure which one to choose, make it easy on yourself. Write down each idea on a piece of paper, put them in a hat, and pick one. That’s the one you’ll move forward with.
Because in all truth, what matters most is that you’re doing the writing and putting yourself out there. You literally can’t go wrong if you’re at least getting paid projects and building your business (and your confidence!). Like I said, these niche connections are like friendships… Either you’ll really connect and become lifelong friends, or you’ll make a few memories and move on. Either way, you get something out of it.
So, now that you have your one niche topic to focus on, let’s move on to the final step…
Okay, you’ve got your niche, you know it’s a profitable topic, and you’re ready to find the paid writing opportunities…
But what do you do first? How do you land those paid writing assignments? What do you even write?
Follow these steps:
1. Spruce up your LinkedIn profile.
Add a few lines that mention your new niche specialty.
2. Go to at least three of the blogs you found within your niche.
Ask if they accept guest posts, and write something for them. (You’re not looking for a paid post at this point, just published credibility.)
3. Ask if you can write a guest post.
Reach out to those same blogs, and to a handful of other blogs in the same niche, and ask the blog owners if they can recommend any companies or clients in that niche who might need copy. The bonus here is that you can then reach out to any recommended companies and add, “So-and-so of this industry blog recommended I contact you.” (And it’s always easier to contact someone based on a recommendation than it is to try making a cold connection, right?)
4. Write your own article about a topic in your niche.
Publish it either through your LinkedIn profile or on your own professional website if you already have one set up. This — and writing for industry-related blogs, as mentioned in Step 3 — is a terrific way to showcase how much you know about the topic or audience. Plus, it’s a great way to practice researching that niche.
5. Reach out.
The final step in launching your own successful passion-based Barefoot Writing business is to let the world know you’re ready. You can do this by approaching your target clients directly. You can find them online or via LinkedIn, by commenting on blogs or posting via social media, and a million other ways. You’re basically just trying to make contact and introduce yourself.
Also, don’t forget to tell your current network about your new services. Send an email to your friends, family, and acquaintances and post an announcement on your own social media networks. Then as you meet people, or ask for referrals, or make calls, or send emails to let potential clients know you’re available, you can send them to your website or LinkedIn profile for more information.
Tie It All Up with a Roadmap to Your Writing Success
And as for the writing itself? If you’re not sure what to write or how to write about your topic, the smartest step is to learn the art of persuasive writing. From there, you can expand into the niche area where you hope to focus your skills.
So for now, commit to a ground-level copywriting course like The AWAI Method for Becoming a Skilled, In-Demand Copywriter, then follow it up with the writing program that relates most closely to your goals (go here for a list of the specialty writing programs published by AWAI).
But here’s a quick tip: Don’t think you have to take every program out there to become proficient as a niche-focused copywriter. You’ll get quality, real-time experience and will hone your craft with each project you take on.
The final tip I want to share with you is to make a plan. Figure out where you want to be financially and professionally one year from now, three years from now, and five years from now.
The clearer your plan is… meaning both your overall plan of where you’re going, as well as your daily plan of what you want to accomplish… the faster you’ll succeed. I did a webinar on Creating a Personal Success Roadmap that will help you clarify your goals. You can access it for free here.
And once you have a roadmap that lays out your goals, along with a profitable niche to focus all your writing efforts on… there’s no telling what you’ll accomplish in the coming weeks and months of life as a Barefoot Writer!