The Secret to NOT Specializing
This past week I’ve written articles about eosinophilic esophagitis, the dangers of lipstick, and the brand Snapple. And that kind of variety is not abnormal for me. I have multiple writing clients from all different backgrounds, and while most of them fall under the health umbrella, there is still the random celebrity story that sneaks in there.
As a seasoned writer, I know that this kind of approach is not recommended. I should be focusing on my very unique expertise. We’ve heard it all before. You need to specialize. The riches are in the niches. Brand yourself as an expert.
And that makes sense. Editors and clients want to work with the best of the best, and it’s pretty hard to be the best at both patient education AND restaurant copycat recipes. If I were to break my ankle, I would want to see the orthopedic specialist right away, not my general practitioner. Generalists know a little bit about a wide variety of topics, but they’re not the experts.
As a writer, finding your own profitable niche can lead to more clients, higher pay, and faster writing. However, this advice leaves out a crucial element of your work… PLAY!
I write about multiple topics, because I have multiple passions. Some of my favorite hobbies include yoga and cooking, so I’ve found a way to write about them. The writing is easy for me, and usually doesn’t even feel like work.
I also still love medical writing and like the fact that I have found a creative way to use my nursing license from home. Writing for large hospital system is where the money’s at, but here’s the problem with niching down to only hospitals. I don’t want to interview physicians and read complex research studies everyday. Sometimes I do, but if that was the bulk of my work, I would feel bored and overwhelmed.
Being able to break up the more intense writing with recipe development and maybe an HGTV article here and there keeps my writing career fun, interesting, and sustainable. As a work-at-home mama, I reserve nap times for work, and on those days when I’m worn out from the tantrums or a full morning at the zoo, writing a lighter article is all I can get myself to do. So I’ve designed my career to fit my life.
While it’s important to listen to the advice of people who have already accomplished your big goals, it’s also important to listen to your own intuition. If you find yourself dreading some aspect of your career, take a step back and examine it.
What is causing the hesitation? Do you really have to do it this one way, or is there a more creative solution? What if you focused on what felt good instead of what you were supposed to do?
Another benefit of allowing yourself to write about different topics is it helps you find your niches. You don’t know if hosptial writing is the right fit for you until you try it. I didn’t know I’d love beauty writing until I started interviewing hairstylists and publishing articles.
Don’t hold yourself back. Go for it and see what happens. One of my favorite yoga teachers used to tell me the same thing every. Single. Class. “Carrie, don’t be so precious with your practice.”
I had the tendency to hold back, make sure I was doing each pose perfectly before trying it, and keeping my motions small. He encourage me to just move through the poses, because they felt good. Swing my arms, kick my legs, even fall over. Just jump in and see what happens. Don’t be so precious with your career. It’s YOUR career - no one else is as invested in it as you are.
Let’s take action…
Take a moment and write down 10 hobbies or interests that you love. I wrote about yoga, cooking, natural beauty, terrible reality TV, etc. Then take a l
ook at your list and ask yourself what you’d like to research and write about.
There are companies and websites that cover literally every topic under the sun, so don’t talk yourself out of one without even trying. Choose a few to pursue and just go for it.
Pitch magazines and websites. Watch the job boards. Write a blog post. Don’t be precious. Move forward!
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