Unless you’ve been working in a small town, doing bits and pieces of different types of legal work for everyone, it’s quite likely you’ve become a specialist of some sort over the months or years you’ve been a lawyer. One of the things you may be looking forward to in your writing life is the opportunity to write about anything you want–especially if your legal specialty has become claustrophobic for you.
It’s All About Specializing
Here’s the thing: Just as specializing made you a better, more marketable lawyer. Writers who specialize are also in higher demand and find work more easily. You may be equally adept at writing short humor pieces, how-to articles about home buying, and lengthy discourses on tech stocks, but it’s much easier to establish yourself in just a few areas and focus on those, at least in the beginning. If an editor wants a piece written about boats, she’s going to think of Joe, the boat-writing guy, first–not Mary (who writes about baking, plastic surgery, purebred cats, rock climbing, the Clinton Administration, and, oh yeah–boats).
This may seem limiting, but the fact is that trying to be everything to everyone–in writing as in life–makes it much more difficult to be anything to anyone. Writers who carve out specific, readily identifiable niches for themselves are the ones who have a steady workflow and consistent checks coming in.
Choose a Topic and a Medium
As you’re getting started with your writing career, spend some time thinking about both the topics you want to focus on and the medium (books, magazines, websites, etc.). Pick out three or four areas to focus on–no more–and dive into them. Your niches may need some fine-tuning–if your goal, for example, is to write about weight loss for women’s magazines, you’re in a highly competitive market. It may be easier to slide into that niche laterally, e.g.: career articles for trade magazines ==> career articles for women’s magazines ==> weight-loss articles for women’s magazines
This goes without saying, but it’s much easier to establish a niche in an area you already have some expertise in. If you’re an employment lawyer, you’ve got a head start on writing about jobs, layoffs, and real-world bad boss horror stories. You’re not limited to past employment, however. If you’ve been quilting since the age of 10, or have biked across the Canadian Rockies, you’ve already got some bona fides that will help you get rolling.
What you pick for your niche doesn’t really matter. The important thing is that you pick one.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jennifer Carsen, J.D. is the founder of Big Juicy Life. She specializes in turning lawyers into writers. Check out
http://www.bigjuicylifecoaching.com for a copy of the free report: “6 Myths About Leaving the Law for Writing.”