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16 Top Freelancers Tell You How They Found Their Niche

One of the earliest struggles that new freelancers face is finding a niche. Most freelancers understand the value of niching (become an expert, make more money, increase productivity), but finding one? It can be a frustrating and time-consuming process.

To help you on your quest and give you new insights into other freelance businesses, I’ve collected stories from 16 successful freelancers who have found their niche. Each one offers specific, actionable tips that can help you find your niche.

So, here we go: How did you find your niche?


Gina Horkey - Horkey Handbook

Gina’s niche: Personal finance and online business

How she found her niche: I leveraged my background as a personal financial advisor for almost a decade to break into financial writing. I didn’t know at the time that it was one of the higher paying niches, but was pleasantly surprised to find that out. One of my first unpaid gigs was for the Huffington Post. That became a great sample for my portfolio and helped with my writing credibility.

I ended up falling into the online business/freelancing niche as my blog took shape. I was basically just sharing what I was learning, which over time made me an authority in this space. After launching online courses, it just made sense to continue writing in this niche to broaden my reach.

Lizzie Davey - Wanderful World

Lizzie’s niche: I write in-depth digital marketing pieces for start-ups.

How she found her niche: I actually started out in the travel niche because I was originally a travel blogger back in the day (we’re talking 4 years ago now).

During that time I was working as an employee in the digital marketing industry, so I had specialist knowledge in this area. It took me 6 months or so to realise that digital marketing is a much-coveted skill set, which meant clients were willing to pay more. I also found I enjoyed writing about marketing more than travel (I admit I was starting to get jaded by the travel industry at that point) - it certainly helps when you love what you’re writing about!

Danny Margulies - Freelance to Win

Danny’s niche: I’m a sales copywriter. If a business needs to sell something online, I can write the words that help them do that.

How he found his niche: When I first started freelancing all I knew was that I wanted to be a freelance writer.

But pretty soon I realized that no one (including myself) had any idea what that meant. There are just too many different types of writing…so saying I was a “freelance writer” didn’t really mean anything.

At that point I decided to be a copywriter. It’s more specific than being a general writer because now you’re writing strictly for businesses. As a copywriter there are lots of things you can do… For example you can write blog posts, taglines, come up with names for products, write internal communications materials (e.g. an HR manual), and much more. But at least people understand what you do and it’s a good start for someone who is niching down from “writer.”

After a few months as a copywriter, I realized that my favorite type of writing was sales writing. I love the feeling of writing an email that helps a business sell more products/services and create more revenue. It also pays well! So I started focusing exclusively on sales copywriting.

Brent Jones - Brent Jones Online

Brent’s niche: I am a freelance social media manager with a focus on increasing targeted reach, engagement, and followers. I most often work with small, local businesses and independent professionals.

How he found his niche: When I first left my day job to start freelancing full-time, I experimented with offering a number of different services. I ultimately chose social media management to be my primary focus for three reasons:

(1) It allows me to create recurring, monthly billing agreements with clients, which is important to creating a consistent and regular income.

(2) There is an abundance of small businesses entering the world of online marketing for the first time, as well as new startups looking to increase their online visibility. In other words, there is a lot of available work in social media management.

(3) A lot of social media work can be scheduled in advance and automated. Not all of it, certainly, but it’s easier to hire help and scale than freelance writing or graphic design would be. My team is able to work on a number of client accounts each day and that frees up my time.

Erin Flynn - Erin E Flynn

Erin’s niche: I work with female freelance web designers and developers helping them improve their businesses.

How she found her niche: I am a female freelance web designer and developer myself, and noticed that so much of the information that was out there was generic business advice that was hard to apply to my own business. Though a lot of trial and error, I eventually figured out what worked for me, and started sharing what I learned with others.

I also have a knack (and a degree) for communicating with clients. Clear communication is key to a great project, so sharing what I’ve learned about speaking “client” has been really helpful to many of my students and has enabled them to reverse sticky situations, and keep things running smoothly.

It took a while to find my niche, but eventually it came down to creating what I wished had been available when I was getting started, as well as tapping into my rare communication skills to create a business that encompasses both, and helps others in my industry.

Carol Tice - Make a Living Writing

Carol’s niche: Small business, finance, franchising, startup, entrepreneurship, legal, restaurant, retail, insurance, real estate, M&A, public company coverage, corporate bankruptcies, nonprofits…and more.

How she found her niche: I didn’t narrow down my niche — the marketplace did. Too many writers spend hours sitting alone, trying to ‘figure out their niche.’ Instead, market and try to do several topics that interest you — and see where you get a response. Write on several different niches and see what pays best and what you enjoy most. Where those intersect will be your best niche(s). And whatever you do, don’t pick just one — it’s too risky. Think of where real estate writers ended up around 2009, for instance. You don’t have to find ONE niche — I have about 9 of them!

I began writing about communities and activism for alternative papers…and while I loved it, I soon discovered it didn’t pay very well! I needed to earn more, as the sole support of a family of five. I ended up applying for a full-time writing job covering hardware stores. I thought I would hate it, but as it turned out, I loved it! The world of business and retailing is a huge soap opera of interesting personalities and fortunes being made — and lost again. I never looked back. When I got back to freelancing in 2005, I pitched all the business expertise I’d acquired, and found clients in different areas, including a global healthcare and insurance consultancy (my dad sold insurance, so I was at least passing familiar — DO NOT discount the value of your life experience).

My biggest tip about niche is — stop trying to figure it out, and go get some clients! Write their assignments, and see what you think of the subject matter and the client type. You’ll soon work your way around to the areas you want to specialize in.

Carrie Smith - Careful Cents

Carrie’s niche: I started out as a financial writer based on my background as a small business accountant.

How she found her niche: Finding my niche was basically a lateral transition using my past experience to work for other blogs and brands to create content around personal finance and small business topics. It’s a niche that I’ve always loved researching, reading and writing about so it was a natural fit.

Since I started working as a financial writer I’ve narrowed down from simply personal finance topics, like budgeting and paying down debt, to more entrepreneurship topics related to becoming business owner, taxes, money management and business systems. Once I narrowed down my niche I was able to work with brands like QuickBooks and H&R Block which had much bigger budgets than the financial startups I was working with in the beginning of my career. So narrowing down my niche definitely paid off!

Laura Pennington - Six Figure Writing Secrets

Laura’s niche: Legal content writer

How she found her niche: After five years of working for attorneys as a researcher, I stumbled into legal blog writing. I found out that it was well-paid, fun to research, and had nuances that a lot of writers didn’t understand. It made for the perfect niche!

Alexia Bullard - Alexia P. Bullard

Alexia’s niche: I am a professional copywriter who specializes in writing laser-focused copy and in-depth blog posts about B2B and marketing topics. I primarily work with small business owners and marketing/marketing automation software companies.

How she found her niche: I have always had a passion for business, and have 10+ years of sales, retail, and customer service experience. I took a small gig with a content mill awhile back, and used that experience and passion to fuel my writing. I realized I was actually good at it, and that resulted in me launching my freelancing career.

Tori Mistick - Tori Mistick

Tori’s niche: Social media manager for local, small businesses in the retail and lifestyle fields.

How she found her niche: I’ve been managing social media for businesses for 7 years. Over that time I realized that the more focused I was, the more productive I could be and I could also become more knowledgeable in specific fields. I’ve had clients in tech and non profit, but it took me so much time to learn about them that I couldn’t do as much for them. When I got focused on apparel and accessory retailers and home improvement businesses, I could stay focused and work faster and smarter for them.

Monique Nelson - Designed by Monique

Monique’s niche: Graphic Designer, specializing in Book Cover and eBook Cover design and small business education.

How she found her niche: I love to learn and am often dabbling in new adventures and interests. I love social media and began my freelancing career as a consultant. But I got distracted by my love of writing, and migrated over to copywriting and ghostwriting for others. Soon enough though, my artistic side was challenging every move I made so I found my forever home in graphic design. While I will design just about anything upon request (I do love a good challenge), I absolutely LOVE designing book covers - probably because I love to read as much as I love to design, and with each cover I fell like I’ve contributed a small portion to encouraging the love of books.

Lotanna Ezeogu - Skills Tribe

Lotanna’s niche: Networking coach for shy and introverted entrepreneurs

How she found her niche: I fell into my niche by following the money. I made a list of things I was good at and loved to do, then I asked about 65 of my friends which ones they were interested in and which ones they would pay for and learning to network was by far the most popular. I started coaching and realized that I preferred to work with shy and introverted entrepreneurs.

Laura Lopuch - Laura Lopuch

Laura’s niche: Business copywriter who specializes in website, email and case study copy

How she found her niche: Looking back over my copywriting experience, I realized 90% of what I’ve written was for websites and I had a knack for it. The email and case study niches were from taking courses in both and really enjoying that type of copy. Also, I signed a client who’s primary revenue stream is her email list. Through that opportunity, I further honed my email copywriting skills.

Sara Frandina - Sara Frandina

Sara’s niche: Conversion copywriter who specializes in website copy, landing pages, and content strategy that supports conversion goals. (i.e. email signups, product purchases, free-trial enrollments)

How she found her niche: This came out of a lot of trial and error at the beginning of my freelancing journey three years ago. I worked with clients in more industries than I can count on my two hands (and toes, really), and I loved the variety of the subjects and research. Craving that variety led me to instead distinguish myself based on the type of work I do (specifically, conversion copywriting), rather than the exact industries I work with. This has also helped me hone in on educational opportunities as I seek out learning experiences that help me hone the skills I need within conversion copywriting.

My advice would be to not stress too much about fitting into any particular niche when you first start out, and when you do choose to, remember that a niche can be defined in many different ways.

Brittany Berger - Brittany Berger

Brittany’s niche: B2B startup marketing

How she found her niche: My full-time jobs have been in online marketing for B2B startups, so this is what I know and love. It’s what I have research and statistics memorized for, will never run out of ideas about, have industry contacts for, and can write quickly. More importantly, I just love it. I geek out about it and love every piece I write, which is why I can come up with so many ideas and write posts so quickly. I’m constantly inspired.

Glory Eke - Glo By Glory

Glory’s niche: Makeup artist specializing in makeup for special events

How she found her niche: I started doing makeup for girls in my dorm room in college. My love of makeup grew day by day as I wasted entire days that I should’ve been studying watching makeup videos on YouTube. My obsession turned into spending all of my money on makeup and building my kit. Nothing has ever fulfilled me more than making women feel more beautiful.




Why I Decided Not to Form an LLC

The original title for this post was “Why I Decided to Switch from Sole Proprietorship to an LLC.”

As you can see, I’ve changed my mind.

Before doing any research, I assumed I should switch from sole proprietorship to forming an LLC for my business. From the little I knew, the switch matched up with all my values. It would be a symbol of treating my business like a business. It would minimize risk, which is my style both personally and in business. And it could help me save money with taxes. Of course I wanted to save money!

Then I started researching. It turns out, a lot of my assumptions about LLCs were wrong. Here’s what I learned:


I am the sole owner of my business, so I would be forming a single member LLC. Once I started investigating the supposed tax benefits of LLCs, I learned that in my case, my taxes would be filed in the exact same way as I currently file them as a sole proprietor. Unless I turned my LLC into a corporation, my single member LLC would be a pass-through entity. I would still pay my taxes through my personal return.

Bottom line: In my case, forming an LLC would not help me save money on my taxes.

Liability Protection

I had always heard that forming an LLC would protect my personal assets in case anything went wrong with my business.

But I discovered that in my specific case, as a freelance writer, the liability protection of an LLC doesn’t cover most of my highest lawsuit risks. I think my two biggest risks as a writer are copyright infringement and libel. In both of those cases, the person who is responsible for the copyright infringement or libel can be sued. So, even if I had an LLC, I would likely be personally sued. In that case, my personal assets would not be protected, even if I had formed an LLC.

Bottom Line: In my case, forming an LLC would not provide liability coverage for my biggest risk factors. Instead, I plan on researching personal umbrella insurance policies, which can offer more liability protection.


It’s important to me to treat my business like a business. It is not a hobby, it’s my career. I send my daughter to daycare so I can work. I have a home office. I have a set working schedule. Because I take my business seriously, my family, friends and clients do too.

But I don’t need to form an LLC to feel official. For others, this may be great motivation. If so, awesome! Form your LLC! While researching I realized that I don’t need that official designation to feel like a legitimate business owner.

Bottom Line: Forming an LLC for my business does not make sense right now. If and when things change in my business, I will re-research and call my tax accountant and lawyer again to discuss. But for now, I’m staying a sole proprietor.


Have you formed an LLC? What factors helped you make the decision?

*Note: I am not a tax accountant or a lawyer. The best plan for my business is not necessarily the best plan for your business. My goal is to simply help you recognize that there is no single “one-size-fits-all” solution. Do your research and get advice from a tax preparer and a lawyer.






How to Thrive When You Work From Home

Arianna Huffington, founder of Huffington Post, has made a name for herself as an advocate of work-life balance. A former workaholic, Arianna now emphasizes how important sleep, meditation, and self-care are for her, and for all of us.

Her book, Thrive, is essential reading for anyone who works from home, where it can be incredibly hard to maintain work-life balance. If you haven’t had time to read the book, here are four key takeaways, plus tips on how to apply Arianna’s advice to your work from home career or business.

Work Smarter, Not Harder

“We think, mistakenly, that success is the result of the amount of time we put in at work, instead of the quality of time we put in.”

When you work from home, it’s easy to feel like you should be working all the time. Your office is so close, there’s always a deadline looming, and you feel like your next business breakthrough is just a few tasks away. But, as Arianna points out, success is measured by the quality of your work, not the quantity.

To make your business successful, you need to prioritize. Identify the most important tasks, the tasks that will help you make more money or reach some other business goal. Then, focus solely on completing those tasks. Don’t let yourself work all the time on everything. Spend quality time on the tasks that matter. Targeted, high-quality work will help you achieve more than working extra hours.


“And every day, the world will drag you by the hand, yelling, “This is important! And this is important! And this is important! You need to worry about this! And this! And this!” And each day, it’s up to you to yank your hand back, put it on your heart and say, “No. This is what’s important.” —IAIN THOMAS”

Ain’t this the truth? Especially if you’re a parent, working from home can be just as challenging as working in an office. The laundry needs to be folded. Dinner needs to be cooked. A diaper needs to be changed. A client project needs to be revised. Email needs to be checked. The to-do list never ends.

Luckily, when you run your own business, you have the power to say, “No. This is what’s important.”

Practice setting boundaries with yourself, your clients, and your family. Create a firm schedule for yourself so you always know what you should be working on. Turn off your phone and internet access when you need to focus on a project.

Make it clear to clients that you are only available during business hours each week.

Teach your family that when your office door is closed, you are working and can’t be interrupted.

Outsource household chores by paying for a house cleaner, a babysitter, grocery delivery, or a meal prep service.

Remember that you are the boss, both of your work life and your home life. Run your business and manage your home life in a way that makes you feel fulfilled.

Ignore Distractions

“Those who can sit in a chair, undistracted for hours, mastering subjects and creating things will rule the world—while the rest of us frantically and futilely try to keep up with texts, tweets, and other incessant interruptions.”

If you run your own business, chances are you’re trying to master your subject and create something amazing. It’s hard to focus on mastery when you’re constantly distracted.

At the same time, it’s hard to ignore the texts, tweets, and the other interruptions that punctuate your day. These distractions make us feel included, even needed. They activate pleasure sensors in our brains, which is why they are so addicting.

What can you do? Turn off notifications for your email and social media accounts. Disable email notifications from your social media accounts. You don’t need to be notified twice when someone likes your tweet or repins your latest blog post. Set aside specific time to check your email and social media accounts. As Arianna writes, “you should control when you want information, not the reverse.”

Don’t Compare Yourself to Others

“I do not try to dance better than anyone else. I only try to dance better than myself.”

When you work by yourself from home, you don’t always have clear benchmarks for success. So, many of us turn to the Internet to see how we compare to our peers.

This is a recipe for disaster. We each have different skills, different backgrounds, and different levels of experience. We also tend to present our best selves on the Internet, not the truth of our messy homes, our failing businesses, our fears and our struggles.

If you want to thrive as a small business owner, you need to stop comparing yourself to others. Instead, compare yourself to last month’s or last year’s version of yourself. Stay away from the blogs or people that make you feel bad about your business and focus on everything you’ve achieved or your goals for the future.

If you work from home, how do you thrive? Share your best tips in the comments!






How I Found My Freelance Niche

Reader Q & A

A blog reader sent in a great question asking how I transitioned from finding clients on Upwork to finding steadier work off of the freelance platform. The short answer: Nailing down my freelance niche helped me find steady, high-paying clients! Check out my reply for all the details or scroll to the bottom for key takeaways to help you find better-paying, steady freelance work.

I’m generally interested in the work you do and how you’ve found your freelance clients. I’ve had some luck with freelancing via Upwork, but am curious to hear more from someone more experienced about how they’ve moved from Upwork and bidding for jobs to regular, steady work. With future moves and kids on the horizon, I’d love to do what I can now to set myself up for a successful/mobile professional life in the future.

How I Found My Freelance Niche

Like many freelancers, I started on Upwork. I quickly niched by only applying to jobs that were related to education. I wanted to do things that only people with a teaching background could do well because I knew that I would land more jobs and be able to charge more. I tailored my Upwork profile to that work and applied for jobs that were within those parameters.

Over the course of several months I picked up more and more clients. Many of my clients had ongoing work that they would ask me to do, so I worked with the same people over and over for months, and even years! Because I was so active on Upwork and had great reviews, potential clients started contacting me and inviting me to apply to their jobs.

How I Found Clients Beyond Upwork

I also started looking for clients through web searches and at Flex Jobs. I found that Flex Jobs didn’t have a lot of freelance options in my niche, but it’s a GREAT place to look for remote work if you want to stick with one company.

For web searches, I had the most luck applying to companies that exclusively do assessment item writing. I’ve been writing assessment items (standardized test questions) for several years, so I knew I could do it well and would be a strong candidate. I found the freelance application page for the companies that appeared first in a keyword search and applied to 6 or 7 companies. All but one hired me.

Working for these large companies is awesome because they have steady work and large budgets. For me, this is the holy grail of freelancing: working with a few, high-paying clients on long-term projects.

Your Takeaway

Finding your niche takes a lot of experimentation and hard work, especially in the beginning. Here are some of the most important steps you can take:

  • Pitch constantly. Building a client base will help you learn more about the pay rates in various niches, and it will help you build your business.
  • Apply for work that requires special skills or education. You will make more money if you can provide a service that only a few other people can do.
  • Experiment. It’s normal to try out different niches and different types of work before you find your niche. Play around. Don’t be scared to try new things.
  • Monitor your results. Keep track of important business metrics, like how much you make per hour on each project, which clients have ongoing work (and what type of work is ongoing), and how much you enjoy each project. Use these metrics to help you decide what types of jobs to keep pitching for.

Have a question? Email [email protected]. I would love to hear from you!





Is Your Business Killing You? The Controversy Over Sitting All Day

Do you spend hours a day in front of your computer? Haven’t jumped on the bandwagon of a sit-stand desk or a treadmill desk yet?

I’m always tempted to buy the latest office gear, but I wanted to investigate first. Is sitting all day really as bad as the media makes it sound? And would a sit-stand desk or a treadmill desk be a good investment?

It turns out, there isn’t a right answer.

Here’s what the research says:

Yes, studies have shown that sitting for long periods of time, like most of us freelancers and web-based entrepreneurs do, has been linked to increased rates of Type 2 diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and early death. Yikes. Studies have found that even people who exercise regularly, but spend much of the day sitting are still at risk for these health problems. Double yikes.

Of course, there is still some controversy over these findings. For example, researchers in the U.K. studied 5,000 people over the course of 16 years. They found that sitting for long periods of time does NOT increase your risk of premature death.

Sit-Stand Desks

One trendy solution is a sit-stand desk, which allows the user to adjust the height of the desk and use it while sitting or standing. These convertible work stations have become popular in homes and offices where people work all day at the computer. But again, the research is inconclusive about whether standing is any better than sitting.

For example, researchers at Cornell University have found that people who use a standing desk often don’t adjust the monitor, keyboard and mouse properly, which can cause wrist pain and eventually lead to carpal tunnel syndrome. Standing all day is also linked to an increase in varicose veins, and a decrease in fine motor skills. In addition, the researchers at Cornell found that people rarely use standing desks for more than 15 minutes at a time, and after a month, the majority of people with a sit-stand desk usually sit all the time. If you’re going to sit all day anyway, why pay more for a desk that lets you stand?

The one plus of a standing work station? You will definitely burn more calories. The number of calories you burn standing varies depending on many different factors. Different sources say that a person can burn between 7 and 50 more calories per hour when they stand than when they sit. Over time those calories can add up, but in the short term, I’m not sure it’s a big enough difference to motivate me to stand at my desk.

Treadmill Desks

What about treadmill desks? Why not get some exercise in while you work? While there have not been many credible studies done on the effects of treadmill desks, current studies report mixed results. One study found that office workers who normally sat at a desk and switched to walking on a treadmill desk two hours a day improved their blood pressure and slept better. Another study found that people who were working while walking slowly at a treadmill desk made many more typing errors and did worse on tests of memory and concentration than people who were sitting. A treadmill desk could improve your blood pressure, but it might put a damper on your productivity.

What’s a freelancer to do?

There isn’t enough research to declare one office set-up better than another. You should just decide on your goals, and select the desk that best helps you meet those goals.

No matter what type of workstation you choose, there are some best practice that can help you stay healthy even if you sit all day for work.

First, practice good ergonomics. This checklist from the U.S. Occupational Health and Safety Administration will help you learn about the healthiest way to set up your work space. This planner can help you calculate how high your desk, chair, and computer should be based on your height.

Get up frequently. Any movement is better than no movement. Take frequent breaks to grab water or a snack. Stretch in your office or take the dog for a walk. If you need to, set a timer to remind yourself to get up and move.

Exercise regularly. While the evidence on the benefits of sit-stand desks and treadmill desks are in dispute, the benefits of regular exercise are not. Experts recommend that healthy adults get two and a half hours of moderate exercise a week, plus at least two days of strength-building activity. Even if you’re not hitting this target, exercise as often as you can. Every little bit helps.

As for me…

I’m keeping my cheap, sit down only desk. I splurged on an ergonomic chair and plan to upgrade my set-up by adding a second computer monitor and an ergonomic mouse and keyboard in the future.

Do you have a sit-stand desk, a treadmill desk, or some other unique office set up? What are the pros and cons?

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