Freelance FAQ #2: Leverage Your Existing Portfolio for New Niches

In the first episode of Freelance FAQ, I mentioned 3 tips for changing niches. In this episode, I talk about using your existing portfolio to build authority in a new niche. It’s a topic I briefly covered in Episode 1 but wanted to expand on.

It might seem silly to use writing in one niche to get work in a completely different one. Lots of writers think that they have to write brand new samples for a niche if they don’t have any existing published work in that niche. Thankfully, this isn’t the case.

That’s because what matters most isn’t always the topic. Check out the video, and stick around after for some detailed discussion, which you can find below.

That’s because what matters most isn’t always the topic. Check out the video, and stick around after for some detailed discussion, which you can find below.

Now, don’t get me wrong––it’s always beneficial to have directly related work. If you write about finance, it’s best to have published work in the finance niche.

However, there are times when that’s not possible. For example, if you’re changing niches, you won’t have any related work to show at the outset. In these cases, that’s perfectly fine.

It’s important to understand that this advice isn’t evergreen. You should only use unrelated work when you have no other option, and you shouldn’t make a habit of it. It’s always preferable to show directly related work.

The bottom line is that you don’t need to worry if you find yourself temporarily without portfolio pieces that are related to the niche you’re writing in. Use what you have, get published in the new niche, and then put that work into your portfolio.

That said, remember that editors want to see two main things: social credibility and the quality of your writing. This is why being published is so important, as it shows other people value your work. (It’s also why we don’t recommend using self-published work in your portfolio.)

Ultimately, the topics of your work don’t matter as much as the type of work. For example, if you want to get published on a blog, your portfolio should have blog articles you’ve written.

In summary:

  1. It’s best if your portfolio has work in the same niches that you’re writing in. However, if you’re temporarily without related work, use what you have.
  2. Remember that editors and clients are after social credibility and quality.

Your Turn: Have you been in this situation before? What did you do?

Freelance FAQ #1: How to Change Niches as a Freelance Writer

What happens when you want to change niches as a freelance writer?

You can write in one niche for a while and eventually become an expert on the topic (and maybe that’s where you are right now). But what if you don’t want to write in that niche anymore? What if you want to pivot to a new specialty?

It can be daunting to find yourself in that position, but thankfully, it’s not as scary as it might seem. In this video, you’ll learn 3 tips for changing niches:

Let’s take a closer look at those 3 tips:

1) Test the waters first.

If you go full speed ahead and change niches overnight, you might run into some problems.

For example, what if you end up not liking the new niche? Or what if you’re having trouble finding work?

It’s much safer to make the switch gradually. We recommend starting by taking on a handful of jobs in your new niche. Evaluate the experience, and see how it goes.

If you love it, great! You can ease into your new niche. On the other hand, if it’s not what you expected, you can easily step out and go back to your first niche. Then you can begin the search for another new niche if you want.

2) You don’t have to start from scratch!

It’s understandable why so many people think changing niches means starting over.

After all, it seems like your current experience won’t cross over to the new niche. For example, if you’ve made a name for yourself as a parenting writer and you want to break into travel writing, it doesn’t make sense that travel editors would care about your experience in parenting.

However, your existing work isn’t worthless––quite the opposite! No matter the niche(s) you’ve written in, your portfolio showcases your experience. You can leverage that existing work and use it to provide social credibility and prove that you’re an expert at writing.

In addition, most editors don’t mind if your portfolio contains work that’s unrelated to the niche. Of course it’s best if you do have published work in the niche, but it’s often not a deal breaker. Use what you have.

3) Establish yourself as an expert early on.

The sooner you establish yourself as an expert in your new niche, the sooner you’ll be getting paid and published.

When you switch niches, you probably won’t feel like an expert at first. You might even come down with a mild case of impostor syndrome. That’s completely normal! But you have to realize that you are an expert whether you believe it or not.

You may not have published work in this niche, but you have knowledge about it. You’re passionate about it. You’re also an expert at writing. That’s everything you need to be an expert in any niche. The only thing you’re lacking is publication, which you’ll achieve (probably sooner than you think).

Changing niches isn’t as scary as it seems.

Taking on a new niche seems intimidating, but it really isn’t. We hope this article has illuminated the reasons why you don’t have to be scared. You have everything you need to get started in a new niche right now. So go out, test the waters, and see what happens.

Your Turn: Is the idea of changing niches frightening to you? Have you ever changed niches before, and if so, what was it like?