When Lanre Solarin, a professional writer and content marketer took us through the process of building our websites and emphasized on the importance of finding a niche I thought what the heck? Why limit myself when the universe had so much information to offer? Bamidele Onibalusi, a successful freelance writer from Nigeria reiterated the fact in his challenge; how to earn one thousand dollars as a beginner freelance writer. This seemed self limiting especially when I thought that I could write on just about anything that existed under the sun and beneath the sea. I then decided that I was going to write about anything that gave me inspiration.
So my journey began. On the first day I took out my laptop and started writing about childhood ailments. Bravo! It seemed I was well on my way to becoming a health writer. I liked the sound of that. Mid-article, I thought of how one would cope if they found themselves with an ailing child on their holiday. Nothing wrong with that, I thought, there was still an ailing child in the document except that now they are at the Bahamas and are on holiday so the parent has to find a way of coping with the ailing child. I was still a health writer, writing about childhood ailments. The problem came when I dumped the initial article and started writing about the food offered in the Bahamas. So somewhere along the way I lost the child and the ailments and it now seemed I was a travel and food writer. Well, I loved traveling, I loved food. So this could work out well for me. After I finish this article I would go back to complete my initial one.
Whilst researching about food in the Bahamas, inspiration hit me. Wouldn’t it be nice if this food was served on a ship? Yes, I was still writing about food and yes I was still writing about travel. The problem came now when my interest was now caught by the vessel carrying the passengers. Nothing wrong, it was still about travel except my interest focused on the make and model of the ship, its speed and the type of engine. I became more interested in the other vessels that sailed those waters. The yachts, the speedboats and hovercrafts, the type and size of engines and the type of fuel these vessels used. So in the flash of an eye my niche changed. Well I did say that I would write about anything didn’t I? So this wasn’t a problem for me. So I started to write about boats until a documentary I was watching on television showed me birds flying over the Atlantic and I started to wonder if these birds actually perched on the boats I was writing about. Instead of finishing my article on boats I shelved it and started researching about birds and aquatic life. I would find out all I could about birds and write about them then later return to my article on boats.
When I started pondering if any of the birds were ever hunted by the people who lived during the Stone Age, and if any were edible and served in restaurants, I realized that I had a problem. It dawned on me that I had not completed even one article a few months after completing my website. Although it was ok for Jack to know all trades, it was important for me to master at least one niche. In trying to be Jack of all niches per say, I learnt a few important facts.
The importance of taking advice
Lanre and Bamidele said it out clearly and I went my own way and got my fingers burnt. I found out that it was important to heed the advice of those that have paved the way before me. They know what works and what does not. In trying to paint everything in the world I could not finish even a single article.
You become a master at researching.
If you are getting paid to research this is well and good. But if you want to eke out a living writing this could be detrimental to you. Don’t get me wrong. Research is needed when writing, especially if you are to write a well rounded article. However, if all you are going to do is research, true, you will learn a lot of things but all the information in the world will not help you if you are not going to use it to write. You just become a database with different types of information.
You become unfocused.
Your head explodes with information overload since the whole world and varying topics are at your grasp. The problem is that you have so many topics and all of them seem interesting that it is hard to bore down to a single one. Just as you start writing one topic another niche beckons you and becomes more alluring. Eventually, you cannot settle on a topic and as expected, you write absolutely nothing.
You become the chief of procrastinators.
Instead of procrastinating because you have nothing to write about, you drag your feet because you have everything to write about and end up overwhelmed. The world is your platter and you keep changing your mind on what to write about. You settle on a topic but before you write anything, new inspiration hits you. In the end you haven’t written anything and you are back to square one.
In the end it is necessary to settle on a niche because unlike what I previously perceived it doesn’t narrow your options. Instead it keeps you focused and you already have a general idea before you settle on a specific one. You find that you actually finish articles instead of leaving them halfway or not writing them at all. What matters is that in due time, unlike where you are Jack of all niches, you actually become more knowledgeable and become master in your chosen alcove.
With everything having been said and done, not having a niche, can be your biggest stumbling block and greatest draw back. The point to writing in the first place is to get established as a writer and to earn from it. Talking about writing, writing dozens of incomplete articles, or conducting endless research and not actually getting down to the process will not turn anyone into a writer but make them just a wannabe.