Finding Your Niche

Posted in Blog

Morningstar Editing LogoA couple of months ago, Cassie Armstrong, founder of MorningStar Editing, approached me with an interesting offer. She wanted to know if I’d participate in an interview series called Finding Your Niche.

I wanted to say yes. I’d gotten to know Cassie over the past year, both on a listserv for editorial freelancers and through Twitter. We’d also taken our conversation offline with a common interest in folklore and cuisine, and Cassie proved very supportive while I was writing my article about the traditions of a certain Greek Orthodox saint’s cake. But I confess that I was concerned about whether I’d have anything helpful to say on the topic. Until recently, I hadn’t really thought of myself as having a niche—for a lot of years now, I’ve just worked hard on things I love.

This is something else Cassie and I have in common. On her business’s website she explains, “MorningStar Editing grew out of my passion for working with language and words.” That passion shows up in a diverse portfolio. But Cassie’s been freelancing four years to my ten. On her blog she calls herself the Accidental Freelancer (although her thinking with respect to her career is anything but).

Cassie’s question, “I still don’t know what my niche is. What do I need to think about?” ultimately reeled me in. Less because of the topic, perhaps, than because of the sincere desire behind it: to learn from others and to take active steps in shaping a life path that’s not just vocational in nature but clearly more of an avocation. I can relate to that in a big way. Plus I figured that if I was already tagging my editorial services with “Literary | Culinary | Academic” in e-mails and on my website, I might as well speak up on the subject of niches.

Today, Finding Your Niche, Part Three is live on Cassie’s blog and appears on the MorningStar Editing site as well. The first two parts of the series feature answers to the same questions, given by Laura Poole and Katharine O’Moore-Klopf in turn, both editors I respect immensely.

In addition to revealing details of my professional background—how many years I’ve been freelancing, how long it took to establish my niches, why I decided on these areas—the interview also addresses questions such as:

  • Is it okay to have more than one niche?
  • What do new freelancers need to know about finding their niche?
  • How soon should freelancers begin looking for their niche?
  • Is it important to establish yourself as a general freelancer first, or should you jump right into a certain area?
  • What should freelancers know about themselves?
  • After you’ve established a niche, is it okay to change?

At the end of it all, I owe a big thank you to Cassie. Answering her questions forced me slow down and evaluate some important elements of not only a successful freelance life, but any life. It reaffirmed my belief that work should come from passion. Without passion—and a healthy dose of curiosity—how else do we keep moving forward?

What about you? What would you like to share or ask when it comes to the subject of finding a professional niche? Let me know by leaving a comment below.

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