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Defining a freelance writing niche is an incredible way for freelance writers to narrow their own focus and really jump-start their businesses. There are so many advantages to working this way. Not only does it give the freelancer a place to start looking, but building up expertise helps ensure future jobs in the same niche writing market.
Throughout the course of writing Freelance Parent, we have repeatedly stressed the importance of finding a niche in which to focus. We have done our best to help other aspiring writers get started by offering solid suggestions for niche writing markets. As a matter of fact, we’ve even taken our own advice, and we’ve been working hard to define our agency as one that caters specifically to the needs of nonprofit organizations. But what about the freelance writer who doesn’t want to specialize in grants and donor newsletters?
The following list contains 67 real freelance writing niches that an enterprising freelance writer could explore as a means of starting or growing a business. Some of these ideas could comprise an entire business all on their own. Others might be combined to offer a full-service experience. Each niche writing market listed here could also stand on its own to offer at least a little part-time income.
1. Interpretive Panels – Ever go for a walk on a city or state trail? Most public outdoor recreation areas put up those great little signs along the way, telling passersby all about the flora and fauna, the history of the area, and other interesting tidbits. Tamara is currently working with a graphic designer friend of hers to put in several local bids for this surprisingly profitable freelance writing niche.
2. Menus – Not all restaurants are up for something out-of-the-ordinary when it comes to their menus, but more and more eating establishments are willing to add a little creativity to their text. The freelance writer who knows cuisine and restaurant terminology could really have an edge in this niche.
3. Synopses for Scripts, Movies, and Books – Believe it or not, there is an art form to being able to take hundreds of pages of text and turn it into one or two relevant paragraphs. Tamara has dabbled in this niche writing market with a few script synopses for a friend at Spokane’s movie production company.
4. Wedding Websites – Build-it-yourself websites to share all the intimate details of an upcoming wedding are becoming incredibly popular. However, while most companies (like Wedding Window) offer templates and advice, they generally leave the text up to the potential brides and grooms. People spend fortunes on their weddings, so shelling out a few bucks to have a professional writer jazz up a proposal story is something many people are willing to do.
5. Personal Bios – Whether it’s for a business website, a job application, or personal web page, there are countless reasons why a personal bio needs a professional touch. Although there are a number of websites offering how-tos on writing one’s own bio, there are also a number of freelance writers (including us) who offer them as a part of their services.
6. Real Estate Ads – The great thing about writing real estate ads is that the freelance writer can either work for an agency or for individual real estate agents. Writing real estate ads combines a little bit of writing and a little bit of marketing, so it is definitely a specialized freelance writing niche.
7. Band Bios – From writing for small bands looking to make an impact on the web to filling the content of entire sites devoted to all things musical, writing a band bio is about more than just listing the facts. Freelance writers who are passionate about music and really know their stuff when it comes to the current scene can find this niche to be a great way to combine what they love with what they do.
8. Writing Prompts – Aspiring creative writers love having someone to dig them out when their muse completely abandons them. If you are good at brainstorming, you might be able to mine this freelance writing niche by coming up with ways for writers of all ages to get their thoughts going.
9. Case Studies – These can be considered a form of business writing because many organizations need case studies to share with potential clients; although textbooks are full of them, too. This is a great niche writing market for someone who likes to share facts but can throw in enough creative flair to make them come alive for the reader. Lorna did a batch of these to accompany a learning module for a nonprofit organization.
10. Catalog Descriptions – This is an area of copywriting that often gets overlooked. You can extend it, too, to include descriptions for ecommerce sites. This is technically how Lorna got her very first freelance writing job, and Tamara’s described more than her fair share of t-shirts and funky furniture for online retailers.
11. Workshop Write-Ups – When someone gives a great presentation, they often get follow-up emails from audience members asking for a text version. A nice, organized write-up can be a pretty valuable commodity. We think this is a completely underserved niche writing market.
12. Executive Summaries – While people put hours and hours into creating a solid business plan, they often get hung up on the executive summary. This type of business writing needs to encapsulate the whole organization and business plan in a page or less. Think of it as one part bio and one part sales pitch.
13. Obituaries – When a family wants to honor the dearly departed in words, they sometimes find that they just don’t have the skills to do it well. The key is to portray the spirit of the departed while still fitting into traditional guidelines for an obituary.
14. Commercial Scripts – A friend of Lorna’s recently landed a gig writing short scripts for a local radio station. New commercials are constantly needed, so the potential for repeat work is great. This freelance writing niche allows the writer a little taste of show biz, too.
15. Resumes – There are writers who make great money off of resume writing. If you’ve got a knack for this and a feel for what works in a variety of fields, the sky is sort of the limit for this niche writing market.
16. Curriculum Vitae – The curriculum vitae is related to the resume, but it’s longer and more thorough. People depend on these to get jobs in certain fields (teaching, for example), so a writer with skills can make a difference in people’s lives while also earning a living.
17. Event Programs – Weddings, plays, civic activities, fundraisers. Each of these requires a printed program of some kind. This is a great reason to strike up a relationship with a local printing house, as they can refer the writer to bridal couples, theatre groups, etc. Lorna did a ton of these in college and is now wishing she’d asked to be paid!
18. Press Kits – Pretty much all types of performers (including public speakers) need a press kit that introduces them to the media. These packages of information are also sent out to booking agents to help them get gigs. We’ve worked on the press kit for a band, and we found the creative aspect of this niche writing market to be really fun.
19. Workbooks – Whether for an online course, or to accompany a textbook, workbooks are in demand; and someone has to write them. This is fun because you actually get to learn all about a variety of topics so that you can come up with the workbook material.
20. Tests/Quizzes – Like workbooks, someone has to come up with the test materials that accompany classes and text books. Companies hire writers (including Tamara) specifically for this purpose.
21. Instruction Manuals – The most important skill for writing instruction manuals is to be able to explain how to do rather complex things, only in very simple terms. Jobs in this freelance writing niche are likely to be listed under “technical writing.”
22. Game Rules – Every new board game, lawn game, etc. that comes out includes a sheet with the rules and playing instructions. These need to be clear and concise and could make a great little niche for a writer with very concrete-sequential thinking. In addition to the big game companies, writers might consider looking for forums and such with game inventors who need their help to get to the next level.
23. Puzzles – Tons of magazines, newspapers, and children’s materials print puzzles, and for a talented wordsmith, this can be an awesome niche writing market. Think crosswords, acrostics, word searches, and logic problems.
24. Awards/Certificates – Businesses have learned the importance of employee (or volunteer) recognition, and this means that a whole lot of awards, trophies, and certificates are being issued. Many of these go through trophy stores, so they could be contacted directly. There’s no reason an online business couldn’t spring from this idea, either.
25. Greeting Cards – The text in a greeting card is referred to as a “poem,” and many greeting card companies will accept unsolicited poems from writers. Lorna has had a couple reserved by a company in the past, but none of them have been used so far.
26. T-Shirts and Novelty Items – There is actually a pretty decent call for people to write for t-shirts, bumper stickers, and other novelty items, although it’s a very competitive freelance writing niche. In addition to selling ideas to big companies, a resourceful entrepreneur can even set up his or her own CafePress shop and sell originals.
27. Flyers and Circulars – Businesses, bands, and event planners all utilize this age-old form of advertising. A freelance writer with some graphics skills can really shine with this type of work.
28. Direct Mail Pieces – Nonprofit organizations have relied on direct mail for decades as a means of raising funds. Freelance writers who can elicit more than about a 1% response rate through evocative writing can be worth their weight in gold. Lorna’s done a couple of these now, and they definitely make for very rewarding work.
29. Annual Reports – Both nonprofit and for-profit organizations needs to report their finances, and many of them do so through fancy annual reports that get sent out to donors and utilized in grant proposals. If a freelance writer does a great job the first year, then there’s obvious potential for repeat business. Lorna’s worked on an annual report or two, and they can be really interesting.
30. Slogans – A creative writer who hooks up with a marketer can have a ton of fun and earn quite a bit of money by coming up with great slogans and tag lines for other businesses.
31. Brochures and Pamphlets – From doctors’ offices to hotel lobbies, brochures and pamphlets are all over the place. They can be a compact method for getting information across or a slick marketing tool to bring in new customers. As with slogans, this freelance writing niche is great for freelance writers who have a good understanding of marketing methods.
32. Liner Notes – Local bands are always cranking out new music, and while they’re usually very excited about the CD’s cover art, they sometimes forget about having well-written liner notes. A freelance writer who makes contacts at a recording studio can get some great referrals this way.
33. Wedding Vows – Everyone wants their vows to be perfect, and hiring someone who has a way with words is a great way to ensure that they are. This niche writing market requires the freelance writer to work closely with the client to be sure the final product is just right for the big day.
34. Song Writing – While the ability to play an instrument can be helpful, there are tons of people who have made their livings by penning lyrics alone. Song writing is a really competitive field, and the writer has to have a good understanding of how to get his or her music in front of the right people.
35. Personal Correspondence – Every year thousands of people write those big holiday letters that go out to catch everyone up on what’s happened in the last twelve months. Every year thousands more mean to write these letters and don’t. This is where the freelance writer comes in. By gathering just a little information and turning a nice phrase or two, the writer makes everyone look good. Other personal correspondence ideas include love letters ala Cyrano de Bergerac and the often-overlooked thank-you note.
36. Toasts – There’s an art to giving a good toast, and the bottom line is that it must be well written. A freelance writer who can balance a bit of humor with the right amount of sentimentality can be the best man’s best friend.
37. Directories – Writing a directory has as much (or more) to do with collecting information as it does with actually writing. Pretty much any field needs a directory, and the internet means that writers don’t have to rely on traditional publishers to get their work published in this niche writing market.
38. How-To for Crafts – A friend of Lorna’s has had success writing articles to teach others how to make certain crafts. There’s even a whole craft blog here on Sparkplugging. Some magazines and web sites will pay more if the writer can include nice photographs or illustrated patterns to accompany the piece.
39. Textbooks – There are tons of textbook publishers out there, and they all need to put out good content. Textbook authors are always needed, whether to write an entire book or just to contribute a portion. Experts can really shine in this niche writing market.
40. Captions – From snarky captions on trashy celebrity websites to foreign pictures that require time-intensive fact checking prior to publication, caption writing is actually a rather large freelance writing niche with several sub-niches in which to specialize. Freelance writers should work to build up a name for themselves or consider aligning with a prominent photographer to make caption writing their focus.
41. Cartoons – Being a full-time, syndicated cartoonist is a pretty hard gig to get, but the Sunday paper isn’t the only place to get cartoons printed. An enterprising writer might even consider publishing a book of his or her own work.
42. Gift Books – Gift books are generally smaller than regular books and are written on a specific topic. They might be funny or sentimental and are the kind of thing you might find near the cash register at the bookstore. They’re often compilations of stories or quotes and might include a lot of pictures, although that’s not always the case.
43. Role Playing Games – A friend of Lorna’s had his geek-cred validated when he got an actual job in this niche writing market and was hired to help write role playing games. This gives writers the opportunity to really explore their creative (and nerdy) sides.
44. Art Descriptions – Galleries often like to include descriptions next to the art they exhibit, and a writer with a good aesthetic and maybe a little art history experience can strike a deal to help interpret the artists’ work as it is displayed. This can also translate to work on web sites that sell art.
45. Prayers/Spells/Affirmations – Whether these are spells created for individual clients or prayers collected into an anthology for publication, these types of writing have the ability to touch people profoundly. This freelance writing niche would be a good fit for writers who are especially spiritual.
46. Cover Letters – In some ways, a cover letter is an even more important piece of business writing than a resume. That’s why many people choose to hire a professional writer to create theirs. Securing a good reputation for getting the interview makes a cover letter writer very, very popular and well-paid.
47. Orientation Materials – New employees often have to attend orientations, and someone has to design and write the materials used. A little HR experience can certainly go a long way in this case. Lorna discovered first-hand that colleges and universities are a good place to look for this type of opportunity, as they have new student orientations regularly.
48. Company Policy Manuals – A business writer who can develop strong skills in this niche writing market can command a pretty penny for this service. The end result needs to be a professional-looking company policy manual that the organization can use for years to come.
49. Contest Rules and Restrictions – There are thousands of contests happening online all the time, and a lot of people running those contests are unaware that they actually have some legal obligations. One of these is to post the rules and restrictions. An enterprising freelance writer can make them aware of this misstep while securing the job of writing the text they need.
50. Autoresponder E-Mails – It seems that internet marketers are forever looking for freelance writers to create good copy for their autoresponders. Once someone has opted into some sort of online list, autoresponder e-mails are periodically sent to remind them of some service or product that they will hopefully buy. We see jobs listed all the time in this niche writing market.
51. Translations – For the bi-lingual freelance writer, translations are always an option. Every brochure and pamphlet, every public announcement, and every web site with international appeal can theoretically benefit by being translated for a wider audience.
52. Family Histories – Geneology is really hot right now, but those creating complex family trees are not always the best ones to tell the stories. Whether a writer is piecing together a family history that spans generations or is recounting a favorite family story, a little flair and an outside perspective can make it that much more special.
53. Legal Letters – Law, in general, is an incredibly profitable specialty for writers. The freelance writer with a legal background may just have quite a career in this niche writing market.
54. Scientific Study Reports/Findings – If there’s a biology degree or science training in a freelance writer’s background, there is also quite a bit of money to be made writing up scientific studies. A few of the pros and cons of this freelance writing niche can be found on the BioJobBlog.
55. Contracts – While a freelance writer should never offer contract writing services without the education and experience to back them up, the right background can be invaluable in getting into this incredibly lucrative niche writing market. Even though there are handy how-tos all over the Internet, this is one best left for the professionals.
56. PowerPoint Presentations – Big businesses and corporations are one of the best places to find the higher-paying clients we all desire. As with many of their outsourced writing projects, PowerPoint presentations are commonly on the to-do list. Freelance writers like this one even offer it as part of their list of specializations.
57. Lesson Plans – Most of these niche writing markets take advantage of a resume that includes something other than writing. Writing lesson plans is no different; if a freelance writer has a history as a teacher or in education, there is potential to offer lesson plan templates or lesson plans to fit certain specifications.
58. Speeches – We’re not the only ones who think hiring a freelance speech writer is a good idea. Happy Guy Marketing makes a pretty good case for it on his website. Freelance writers who have a knack for writing persuasive, moving prose might just be a short step away from a successful speech writing career. Lorna has written quite a few speeches, which really appeals to her more theatrical side.
59. Safety Manuals – The term “technical writing” encompasses quite a large field, including things like user manuals and safety manuals. Companies that manufacture goods often bring on writers solely for this purpose, while smaller organizations simply hire their projects out periodically to freelancers with experience in this niche writing market.
60. Templates – Templates exist for almost anything: resumes, correspondence, product reviews, newsletters, etc. Freelance writers can either find work making these for someone else, or they can branch out and sell their own creations.
61. Corporate Mission Statements – There are some really great freelance writers who specialize in writing for nonprofits. Part of their services often include mission statements for both corporate and 501(c)(3) organizations – this freelance writing niche represents both a valuable service and a rewarding way to make money.
62. FAQs – FAQs. Almost everyone has one. Some of them are well-written. Some aren’t very interesting. Some just add confusion rather than clarify anything. Creating companies’ FAQs is a freelance writing niche that really needs to be explored more and more.
63. Business Plans – Though it takes definite expertise in writing and development, business plans could very well be a freelance writer’s primary source of income. There are enough fledgling businesses to keep writers busy for years to come – assuming you can convince businesses to hire you.
64. Wikipedia Entries – Tamara was once hired just to write a Wikipedia entry. It was a pretty lengthy process to get all the rules, format, and consistencies down. If you can assure your clients their entries won’t get removed or flagged, you could have a great freelance writing niche all tied up.
65. Abstracts – Writing abstracts is one of those things that everyone thinks they can do but few really can. The ability to filter the right information from a lengthy article or report to make a concise, interesting blurb is an art. Those who have it should definitely flaunt it.
66. Annotated Bibliographies – According to the library at Cornell University, “Creating an annotated bibliography calls for the application of a variety of intellectual skills: concise exposition, succinct analysis, and informed library research.” Anything with this kind of list of requirements is bound to be profitable for the enterprising freelance writer.
67. Editorials – Editorial writers typically have two options: to become part of a big-name newspaper or go freelance. Going freelance just happens to be the way we prefer to do things here at Freelance Parent.
So, do you have any ideas to add to the list? What curious niche writing markets have you come across in your freelance writing journey?