Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Finding Your Niche

I was doing a quick interview last night. The guy I was talking to was driving, and I think he was bored, so he was asking me questions about my writing life. This was an interview for a technology magazine, so he asked me if I wrote a lot about technology. Then we got talking about how I ended up writing on the various topics I cover.

I write for trade publications almost exclusively these days. I started out writing for construction magazines, and that grew to other occupations over the past year or two. I stumbled into it, really. I had a job where I worked with construction people, and I wrote articles for the department newsletter. When I began freelancing, someone suggested I introduce myself to construction magazines. I did. I got some positive responses. And it went from there. Construction led to engineering. Engineering led to technology. And so on down the line. I'm happy as a clam writing on these topics.

Over the years, I've discovered niches can change. When I first started freelancing, I wrote parenting articles. I had teenagers then, and there were so many issues about teens that I felt weren't discussed. That led to more parenting articles, topics like pregnancy and babyhood. I am a mom, so like so many moms, parenting articles interested me. But then the kids grew up, and the topics lost their appeal.

I think there is a lot of truth to the idea of writing what you know or write what you care about. But I'll take it a step farther to say, write what interests you and write on things that can expand your life. Believe it or not, construction writing made a lot of sense for me, and not because I had those couple of years of job experience. My best friends are in the construction business. Family and friends worked construction at some point. I learned a lot by talking to them over the years, but by writing about construction, I learned how to hold up my own end of the conversation. Same thing with engineering -- I spend a lot of time with engineers. I know how to speak their language and I carried that over to writing on the topic. On the other hand, I probably won't ever write about cooking because I get lost in my own kitchen and have no desire to learn how to find my way.

There are a few topics I'd like to tackle as time goes on (or I've touched on them but would like to expand my horizon): music litergy in the Catholic church, sports, presidential politics, issues in higher education. I'd like to build on some of the topics I write about now, and am expanding into green and sustainable topics, which really feeds off of the work I've done in the past.

Your niche is out there.

1 comment:

Patti said...

this was interesting to see how your path has changed, and how you have adapted.