It’s time to get serious, aspirers. If you want to be a writer, there are some requirements.
You need to want it, and we mean really want it. Editors and readers alike can tell when your heart’s not in it.
You need to know why you want it.
You need to know where you fit in the publishing world and carve your name into it, because a lot of people—a lot of people—want what you want, for the same reasons you want it.
You need to stand out.
How do you stand out? By finding a niche and, basically, dominating it.
How do you do that? This week we’ll show you how to find the place to chisel your name onto the wall. Next week we’ll show you what to do when you’ve found that wall but there’s no room left for you on it (yet).
1. Write about a lot of different things
Wait. That seems a little backwards. Aren’t we supposed to be finding our niche? Exactly right. How do you expect to find your area of writing expertise if you haven’t tried writing on different topics, for different publications and audiences?
In the beginning, write what you can write. Write what you enjoy writing about, but don’t hold yourself back from branching out to different topics. For one thing, it’s helpful to get your name out there, but everyone’s trying to do that at the exact same time. What you really enjoy writing about might not even end up being your exact niche—hold on, let’s dive a little deeper into that one.
2. Figure out your “mission”
You don’t have to have a blog or a business to have a mission. Personal mission statements aren’t just for college applications: they’re part of establishing your brand, which you should start doing if you haven’t already, if you want readers to be able to figure out who you are if and when they do find you.
Creating your own mission statement will help you maintain a common thread throughout all the work you do, so that even when you’re writing on many different topics, you can still communicate your overall message to many different readers. It’s easier to define which niche aligns best with your goals when you know the specific goals you’re looking to achieve.
3. Explore blogs, websites and forums that set you off (in a good way)
Eventually, as an “expert” you’ll spend less time writing random posts and articles and more time in your niche. Before you get there, though, you have to get involved. You can’t be an expert if you’re invisible, and if you’re not even sure how to begin building your brand and anchoring yourself in a specific writing niche, you might want to surround yourself with people and ideas who can help build you up.
Get out there. Read, comment, participate in conversations and writing challenges. Know the mantras of experts in the niche you enjoy spending time in and connect with them if you can. If you’re tempted to post multi-paragraph replies to someone else’s comment in a forum—because you want to elaborate on a point, not to be a troll—that might be your place to settle in and hang for awhile.
It’s not easy, being a writer. We know.
But you gotta start somewhere.
Find where somewhere is for you. Where do you fit?
And how will that change the way you write?
Image courtesy of Novelty Revisions.