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?

Why it’s awesome to specialize

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. It also lets you write with the efficiency that comes from having information mentally on hand. If you can write faster and more authoritatively 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, when you specialize, you can gain a good reputation as someone whose reporting or points of view are trustworthy. Clients might seek you out because of this. It also becomes more likely that people will share your work through social media, email, or other platforms. The less time you have to spend marketing yourself and looking for work, the more time you can spend doing real writing.

The advantages of spreading your writing wings

On the other hand, specializing of course means that you will be limited in your writing topics or plots. After writing about SpaceX or an undeserving Victorian rogue for the millionth time, you might feel bored or caged in. Being open to a wide range of topics and genres means that you’ll always be learning something new. That can keep your interest, creativity, and motivation higher.

Going after a lot of different writing topics or styles also means that you’ll have access to a larger publishing network. You can 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. It can potentially give you a way to work even in times of greater economic insecurity or heightened office politics.

Lastly, choosing to write about anything challenges you to get comfortable with a broader range of formats. You’ll also feel at ease with a variety of content lengths, tones, and style guides. That can bring more flexibility into your writing and help you find your real voice.

It’s OK to pick a camp, straddle, or flip-flop

Personally, I’ve sort of straddled the middle ground here. At the moment, most of my paid work comes from writing business-related content. I mainly do 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 my take is, if you want to monetize knowledge you already have and you really enjoy routine, efficiency, and deeper connection with editors, the chance to specialize in one area you’re passionate about might be a better fit. If 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.