Should You Specialize as a Writer?

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Finding writing work often is a challenging task. But as you’re looking for jobs, you’ll realize that you can either specialize in one area or take more of a jack-of-all trades approach. Is one any better than the other, and do you have to choose between them?

What makes specializing awesome

One big advantage of specialization in writing is that you acquire a ton of expertise on your key subject. That can make it a snap to go back to sources you already know well, or to write with the efficiency that comes from having information mentally on hand. If you can write more authoritatively and faster because you really know what you’re talking about, it’s often possible to finish more projects in the same amount of time. That can translate into more paychecks.

Additionally, as an expert writer in your area, you can gain a good reputation as someone who’s reporting or points of view are trustworthy. Clients might seek you out because of this, and it becomes more likely that people will share your work through social media, email or other platforms. This is incredibly important, because the less time you have to spend marketing yourself and looking for work, the more time you actually can spend doing real writing.

The advantages of spreading your writing wings

On the other hand, specializing of course means that you will be much more limited in your writing topics. And after writing about SEO, SpaceX or how best to plant tulips for the thousandth time, you might feel bored or caged in. Being open to a wide range of topics means that you’ll always be learning something new in a way that can keep your interest, creativity and motivation higher.

Going after a lot of different writing topics also means that you’ll have access to a larger publishing network. Instead of establishing relationships just with editors who publish about, say, cooking, you also could send queries and manuscripts to business, fitness, entertainment or all kinds of other editors. That larger network can be incredibly helpful if you happen to encounter a dry spell with some of your more regular clients or publishers, potentially giving you a way to work even in times of greater economic insecurity or heightened office politics.

Lastly, choosing to write about anything under the sun can challenge you to get comfortable with a broader range of formats, such as essay or listicle. You’ll also feel at ease with a variety of content lengths, tones and style guides. That can bring more flexibility into your writing so that you can find your real voice, even as you deliver what clients and editors ask for.

Personally, I’ve sort of straddled the middle ground here. At the moment, most of my paid work comes from writing business-related content, especially articles for blogs and other Internet pages. But I’ve also written on everything from fitness to dentistry, and I’ve worked with both secular and faith-based organizations. I enjoy being able to take both approaches, alternating based on my circumstances and feelings. You might be like me in that regard, and you don’t necessarily have to live entirely in one camp or the other forever. But otherwise, my take is, if you want to monetize knowledge you already have and you really enjoy routine, efficiency and deeper connection with editors, working in one area you’re passionate about might be a better fit for you. If you find that you get antsy without a chance to explore or feel like you need some variety to improve your skill as a writer, lean toward writing anything you can.

 

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