Rule 7 of Profitable Writing

Writer For Hire Click here for the first entry in this series of 9 1/2 rules for making money as a freelance writer.

I talk with a lot of writers these days, at conferences and when folks contact me via email. Most of them have assigned themselves some kind of a beat. “I’m a travel writer,” they say, or “I write about sports.”

Which is great. Writing about our passions is one of the best parts of this gig. But almost all of these people then ask me why it is they can’t go full-time as writers. And they’ve already answered their own question. They’ve violated the 7th Rule of Profitable Writing…

BE A GENERALIST

I love writing about martial arts, and I’m a regular contributor (and contributing editor) to Black Belt, the biggest martial arts magazine on the market. I also work for a few blogs and websites that want martial arts content.

My total income every month from writing martial arts? $300. I make a living because my beat is anything someone is willing to pay me for. A partial list of the topics I’ve covered for pay in the past quarter would include

  • Travel safety
  • SMS marketing
  • Social media marketing
  • The presidential race
  • Wildlife viewing in the Virgin Islands
  • Stress relief
  • Martial arts
  • Thanksgiving nutrition facts
  • Workout music
  • Feline leukemia
  • Disability insurance
  • Student loans
  • Small business processes
  • Virtual phone systems
  • Investing
  • 18-wheeler accidents
  • Drunk driving
  • Rules for tabletop games
  • New legislation about automobile safety
  • Search engine optimization
  • My toddler’s poop
I’m not an expert on everything I write about. I don’t have to be, and neither do you. As a writer, clients expect you to be an expert at two things: writing and research. If you’re good at those things, there’s no reason to limit yourself to just a few topics. 

Does my expertise in some topics help me land new clients more easily in those subjects? Yes. Is it easier to write an article on a subject I know intimately? Absolutely. Are there topics I like covering more than others? You betcha.

But I never say no to an opportunity just because it isn’t in my bailiwick. Neither should you.

Thanks for listening. Any questions?

 

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