Writing Wednesday – How to Find Your Writing Niche for Pleasure or Profit

Yes, my blog posts are themed around atrocious alliteration (there I go again). I can only apologise.

There are a lot of writing blogs out there. Some concentrate on the technique of writing itself; others on the business side of getting paid as a writer. On some blogs you’ll learn about crafting a work of appealing fiction, while elsewhere you can find out about blogging or copywriting. For more on the latter, check back here on Monday for Marketing Mondays (I can’t help myself, sorry).

If you want to blog, whether you want to make money or just to enjoy the process, finding your niche can feel daunting. The few blogs I’ve linked above are all worth checking out, but are just some of my favourites: taken together, there’s a treasure trove of writing resources out there. I wrote a post about Stoicism on Saturday, and I plan on writing more, but I’m certainly not the only one doing that. In fact, next Stoic Saturday will feature a post about the Ancient Stoics, so I’ll be writing about something first covered two millennia ago.

“There is nothing new under the sun.”

It’s appropriate that this quote comes from the book of Ecclesiastes, in the volume Christians call the Old Testament, written at least 2,100 years ago. It’s fair to say there have been a few innovations since then: the text’s author might have seen his statement challenged somewhat by air travel or the internet. Still, the basic facts of human life have not changed all that much; and when it comes to subjects of writing, Ecclesiastes’ proclamation feels truer by the day.

It’s not, though. The world’s oldest cynic was right, but only to an extent: there might not be anything new to work with, but that doesn’t mean we can’t craft new things with it. I’m still finding my niche myself when it comes to my personal blog, but here are the principles I’ve been applying so far.

  • Write what you know. What are your areas of expertise? This question is absolutely not restricted to your academic background: anything you studied at school or beyond is great raw material, but some of the best writing comes from professional and personal experiences.
  • Write what you love. It’s quite possible to write technically proficient text on a subject you have no personal interest in. I’ve done it myself, I’ll do it again, and if you retain a commitment to quality there’s no reason you won’t be able to turn in a valuable piece of work. That said, the most successful writers – whether bloggers, novelists, copywriters, whatever – work in a niche for which they have a real passion. For me, on this blog, that’s Stoic Saturdays – I also plan on writing short pieces on other topics dear to my heart, from medieval history to modern video games.
  • Take feedback. Ask for feedback whenever and wherever you can, and listen to any you receive with open ears and an open mind. I don’t mean that you need to take every criticism to heart: sometimes criticism isn’t constructive, and sometimes people are simply wrong. If you’re discounting a critique you’ve received, though, be sure you’re doing it for the right reason: if it’s simply to protect your ego, you aren’t going to grow as a writer and you’re unlikely to thrive; whatever your niche.

Simple stuff, right? Right. There’s nothing new under the sun, after all; but if you can put these principles to work, improving with feedback without getting discouraged, you’re bound to go from strength to strength. Leave me some feedback to help me improve, and don’t be afraid to experiment: you might not find your niche today, but with courage and perseverance you can’t fail.

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