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Firstly, you need to be clear on who you are, and what you’re offering. Because if you’re not, no one else will be.
Who are you?
When I first went properly freelance, as in: at home, looking for freelance work – I was fairly clueless. I knew what I wanted to do – be a journalist and copywriter – but I didn’t know how to do it.
Until then, I’d been a working as a full-time copywriter for a corporate film company, on a rolling contract. So I hadn’t needed to pitch for work. I just rocked up and wrote about films.
Now, I was at home, thinking: how do I get people to hire me to write copy for them?
I felt more passionate about the journalism, but I knew that copywriting was where the money was. So a mix of both felt sensible.
At the time, I also had a young baby so I was working on my laptop, trying to secure writing gigs while rocking her bouncer with my foot.
The work didn’t come.
I wrote the odd article, got a part-time job on a magazine, and then decided to take matters into my own hands and I launched a parenting platform called The Early Hour.
If I could go back to speak to myself then – entering this wild and wonderful freelance world – I’d say: find a niche. There are loads of copywriters and journalists: what do you specialise in?
As it was, I wrote a blog about flowers, feminism, books, films, funny things, politics. Stuff I was interested in. And then I wrote articles about a wide range of things too.
What that meant was that I didn’t spring to mind when people were looking for a copywriter. Or a journalist.
Who I am
Now, I’ve written a book on freelancing around your kids. And I run this online course business. So the consultancy packages I offer focus on these two areas: freelancing and running a business.
I specialise in online businesses, and work almost solely with women aged 25-45.
Because that’s who I attract.
Take a look at my Instagram statistics…
I attract women in this age range, because of the messages I put out. The content I share. The issues I talk about.
And the more women in this age range I attract, the more women in this age range I attract. Because word spreads. And testimonials do, too.
So, who are you?
You are presumably trained in your field. Or very experienced.
- Have you carved out a niche?
- Do people know exactly what it is you offer when they visit your website, and come across you on social media? (We’ll run through these areas in the coming topics).
- Are you a specialist in one area?
- Do you have any accolades related to your work, that might excite people? Have you won awards, or been nominated?
I signed up a group of 15 women through The Robora. They all worked in different fields. And one was a copywriter. She’s a great writer, and can produce both long and short-form copy. She does proofreading. Can help people find the tone of voice for their brand. Write the words for their websites. Social media.
So, she can offer copywriting across the board.
But while some of us understand the value of a copywriter, and why it’s worth investing in someone with this skill to get your website and general copy looking and sounding professional, others don’t.
I suggested she think about honing in one one area, and offering her services for this niche. For instance, writing online courses. Because there are lots of people who’d love to launch a course, but don’t feel confident or able to write them. She could help with that.
It doesn’t mean she can’t also write people’s website copy, or take on social media or branding projects, it just means there’s one area she’ll become known for and when someone’s looking for help with their online course, she’ll spring to mind.
I have a coach. She trained as a life coach. But rather than offer general life-coaching, she has chosen to specialise in manifestation and intuitive healing. She did further training for this.
And it was the manifesting element that drew me to her.
If I’d come across her website and it had said: I’m Juliette, a life coach. I’d have never booked in with her.
But instead, I read some blog posts she’d written about manifesting more money and I signed up to her mailing list.
I liked the emails she was putting out. And I decided I wanted to work with her one-to-one.
I signed up for a three-month package.
It cost £1200.
And while the focus of our work is manifesting, we do general life-coaching too.
A niche doesn’t need to limit you
Focusing on one specific area – so coaching for new mums rather than just ‘coaching’ – doesn’t mean you are then stuck in that one area. But it’s a starting point. And from there, you can grow and offer additional services.
Your services will in part be shaped by the clients you attract and what they think you’re particularly good at.
For instance, say you decide to coach new mums. But in their testimonials they all say: I found these sessions amazing for helping me to create better work-life balance – well, there you have another potential niche to focus on.
So it shouldn’t feel limiting to start out with a specialism. It should feel exciting, because you know you’re an expert in this area. And it can lead to lots of other places.
When I launched The Early Hour, there was a parenting focus. So that became my niche. I was then commissioned by the Guardian to write about parenting issues. Also by Grazia, Red Mag and other publications.
Now that I was putting out content on a specific subject, people started to see that as my area of expertise. I’m definitely not a parenting expert, but I was able to offer opinions.
In time, I started writing more about general women’s issues and less about parenting. And then I started these online courses, and that became my new niche. Women in business.
So it’s fine for it to grow and develop with you. But it’s good to start with a clear specialism, so that people come to know you for doing one thing really well.
That said, don’t panic if you’re not sure right now what yours should be. Throughout this course, lots of new ideas will come to you.