I’m not a commitment phobic, I just don’t believe in finding a copywriting niche.

Niche to meet you


“You should find a copywriting niche.”

I read that sentence every…single…day.

As a nicheless (not a proper word) freelance copywriter, I’m often viewed as a Jill of all trades, master of none. A flibberty-gibbit. A fly by night, with a sticky finger in every pie.

‘Niche down’ they shout, as I walk by.

‘Niche up’ they shout, erm, as I walk by again.

There isn’t a day that goes by without a ‘helpful’ article appearing on my Twitter or Linked In feed, telling me that all my freelancing problems could be solved if I would only choose a copywriting niche.

“If a copywriting niche doesn’t make itself apparent, pluck one from the sky.”

 They suggest.

“Take an area you’re familiar with and make it your business to become an expert.”

 They implore.

But whatever you do, niche niche, niche.

I’ve read and written the word ‘niche’ so many times, that I’m not even sure it’s a word anymore.

The OED defines a niche (in this context) as:

“a comfortable or suitable position, in life or employment.”

And here lies my first problem (amongst many) with choosing a niche.


My great big long list of why niche know-it-all’s can get knotted…



If finding a copywriting niche is how you get comfortable, then doesn’t it follow that it’s also how, somewhere along the way, you might also get bored, stuck, complacent or downright lazy?

Starting out in your copywriting niche, it may feel exciting to be regarded as an expert. You may initially enjoy being respected for doing one thing really well. But after several hundred jobs writing about home decorating or pet care, won’t the danger be that you find yourself stuck in a very shallow groove (dare I say it, a rut?)

Repeating the same thing, over and over again, could lead not to greater accuracy but to increased sloppiness and reliance on trotting out tried and tested phrases. You could become hellishly bored with your niche topic, churning out content that, while accurate, is no longer inspiring. Some clients may like that – but not the kinda client I like roll with. They live on the edge, my friend.



2. The spice of life…

What I love about generalizing is that you never know what sort of job is around the corner. One day, you’re writing about cake-making, the next could find you wordsmithing about high-end audio equipment or blogging on how to treat a broken toe (all real jobs.)

I’m not going to lie to you – often, my job involves writing copy on subjects that don’t interest me on a personal level. Sometimes, these subjects are dry and difficult to approach – but that’s what keeps me on my toes.

If the subject matter is out of my comfort zone or threatens to send me off for a nice little snooze, this stretches me to do dig a little deeper, with more thorough research or a new approach to the material, that sparks my creativity.

In a decade, I’ve never received feedback from a client that my copy is ‘flat’ or ‘boring.’ I’ve found a way to add some sparkle to everything from stone cleaning product copy to instructions on how to prolong the life of your washing machine. It can be hard work, but the results are worth it.

I see it as part of my job to reflect a client’s passion for what they do or sell – so I work hard to find something inspiring, in any area. When you’re writing about forty-seven different types of stone, it’s not easy. But the satisfaction to be gained from turning dry into delightful is immense.

Here’s a sample of the range of copywriting clients I’ve worked with – from a baby wear boutique to a team of engineering consultants. Variety is the spice of my working life.

2. Big fish – small pond


It’s not easy to secure regular copywriting work that pays well enough to make an honest living – and choosing a copywriting niche feels like making an already small pool even smaller (plus, I start to feel a tad claustrophobic…is it me or are the walls are closing in?)

I enjoy being a pretty small fish in a big pond, able to dart around with relative freedom and ease. My worry is that narrowing down the field in which I work will also narrow down my choices, until there just isn’t enough available work to support my business.

Many would, and do, argue that choosing a niche actually increases choice, as it means that you’re easily found by the people who are deadly serious about hiring a particular kind of writer (if I want an article about penguins, and you’re the UK’s only copywriter in the penguin niche, I’m going to find  you with ease, and will probably go on to use your services, as there’s little competition – and you’re obviously awesome at writing about penguins, of course.)

I appreciate this argument – but surely there can be no better way of finding work that being open to all possibilities, even if you have to filter out the ones that aren’t suitable for you (and being a generalist means I can ‘generally’ write about a subject, not that I’m always to most suitable person to do the work.)

3. Rich experience

That’s a shame. I learned so many valuable lessons through working with a mad range of clients in the early days. I put myself out there as being open to anything and everything – and I took some VERY interesting jobs along the way.

Exploring many different voices, styles and genres, has made me a versatile writer with a great skillset at her disposal. And should I choose, one day, to pick a niche, I’ll have a great foundation from which to grow.

Choosing a copywriting niche early on in your career means that should you ever grow tired of this subject area, you’ll need to build up your experience in different sectors gradually, alongside continuing to earn money working in your niche. This seems counterproductive mid-way through a career – much easier to do at the beginning, when you don’t already have a client base or reputation to protect.

4. Eggs – basket

If you restrict yourself to a niche, you become reliant on one industry. So what happens if that industry takes a knock and the work dries up?  What if you find yourself working regularly for a couple of large companies in your niche, and one of these goes under or ceases to trade?

So much of freelancing is about spreading the risk, ensuring that you have a finger in many pies, so that you’re never left high and dry and pie less, if a major client lets you go.

Being a generalist gives me more control over my career, as I don’t feel compelled to take all of the work I’m offered. Within a copywriting niche, there are only so many options, and writers must surely feel that they have to say yes to everything. Increasingly, I’m able to say no to clients whom I don’t feel will be a good fit for my business and am refusing jobs that don’t pay enough, don’t stretch my skills enough and don’t offer the potential for an interesting, long term relationship (where the great work really takes place.)

5. Reaching your peak

Becoming an expert in something is exciting. When I learned to knit, the first six months were a frustrating tangle of wool and swearing. Then it clicked, and I started to knit without thinking about it (like how driving becomes but shouldn’t.) When I started to master knitting, becoming more ambitious and tackling advanced techniques, that felt amazing. People began asking where I’d got my cool hat from and begging me to make one for their kid (though I could never get my own kids to wear any of my woolly creations, the ungrateful little turds.) Being the ‘go to’ person for knitting advice was satisfying and I loved helping people out (showing off.)

But eventually, I got about as good at knitting as it’s possible for a person to get (I could knit some truly amazing stuff, trust me.) After that, knitting lost its sparkle. Sure, it passed the time, but I wasn’t on that exciting learning curve where you’re improving all the time, your brain is working its little socks off, you’re impressing everyone left right and centre and life is good.

Maybe I’m easily bored. Okay, I know I’m easily bored. But I imagine having a copywriting niche would be the same – I’d get to the top of my game, then feel a sense of anti-climax and feel a little underwhelmed, a little lost?

I love the fact that I can work on many different types of copy in numerous areas, as a generalist. My brain is stimulated on the horizontal as well as the vertical, if you get what I mean.

Sure, it must feel good to be really, really good at something. But my silly brain wants to be good at more than one thing. Some days, it wants to be good at everything. I guess that’s why I’m a ‘creative type.’

In defence of niches (begrudgingly

 My point, in writing this post, is that niching certainly isn’t for everybody, and choosing a niche shouldn’t be something new copywriters feel compelled to do. But it does work for some, and it works really well.

For a start, there’s the dollar bills y’all. Copywriters who niche can command higher rates of pay, and while money isn’t everything, it would be nice to have more of it (so I could really mean that last statement.)

If you’re the rare bird that writes exclusively about salmon fishing or dining out in Guatemala, you’re going to be in much higher demand than the scads of generalist writers at a client’s disposal. Take a browse through the available jobs on any content mill, and you’ll see just how many eager copywriters are out there, touting for business and claiming to be able to write on any topic under the sun. Finding a copywriting niche definitely helps you stand out from the crowd – though clients using content mills usually have fairly generic, rather than specific needs.

If you charge per project, you may also fare better writing in a niche, as familiarity with your subject means less research time is required for each job, so you can produce work much more quickly than a generalist, who has to factor research time into their quote.
It may also be comforting, as a niche writer, to know that people will search you out rather than having to constantly tout for business. People looking for niche writers already know what they’re looking for, and what they’re not looking for, so you won’t need to ‘sell’ as hard as us generalist writers do.

All in all, y’all

 I don’t feel compelled to find a copywriting niche. I won’t say ‘my niche’ because this implies that every writer has a specialist subject within them, just waiting to be discovered. For some, I just don’t believe that’s true. My passion in life is writing – that’s my niche right there –  I don’t need to get more specific than that.

Maybe you’re thinking I’m a commitment phobic – reluctant to tie myself to one area when there are so many other prospects out there, waiting to be explored. Do you admire that, or think I’m fickle? Are you the sort of person that believes your one true love is out there, or, like me, do you reject the concept of ‘Mr Right.’

It may be a case that, as I mature as a writer, I want to become faithful to a niche subject. For now, I’m enjoying playing the field, and my clients receive the benefit of my enthusiasm, curiosity and dedication to get to know a subject thoroughly before producing their copy.

It’s might also be a confidence issue, as being able to work across a wide area makes me feel more secure – there are definitely clients out there for me, and it’s too soon, for me, to narrow down that field.

Like Pinnochio, I’ve got no strings to hold me down. Unlike our little wooden friend, I’m not a pathological liar, which is goods news too.

I won’t be choosing a copywriting niche any time soon – so if you like the sound of working with a niche-less, rebel copywriter, then get in touch now!

How about you?

Are you for or against niching? Have you found your subject area, are you looking or are you a happy generalist? Let me know in the comments – it’ll be niche to meet you.

Tiny words – big choices A micropost about microcopy.

a cartoon of a red ant standing next to a yellow capital letter A. Text reads 'A is for ant'


After writing the copy for an exciting new recruitment app this week, I’ve been inspired to blog about the technique I used – a (very) little thing we call ‘microcopy.’

In tribute to microcopy, this post will be short and direct (in total departure from my usual style.)

What is microcopy?

Microcopy is the term used for the small pieces of text that appear on an app or website’s interface, that help users ‘do stuff’ (technical term.)

Microcopy could be a call to action:

‘Click to view’

Or an explanation

‘Move slider to show salary expectations’

Or a request

Complete profile before proceeding’

Microcopy is also used to ease any doubts a user might have about the actions you request.

This might include giving an explanation about why specific information is needed

Phone Number: (In case we need to call you about your order.)

Or what will happen to data, once captured

‘We won’t auto tweet or spam your friends.’

And can reassure and direct users when things go wrong

‘Ooops, something’s not right. Please refresh your browser and try again.’

 What should microcopy achieve?

Microcopy may look short and sweet, but it has a huge impact on conversions and must be carefully constructed in order help make an app or website as user friendly as possible.

It should provide guidance without being intrusive –  pare it back when the user needs less support and amp it up, with clear, direct instructions when things get a little more complex.

Each and every word needs to be chosen with great care, in order to work with, rather than against the user (good microcopy creates flow, rather than stopping the user in their tracks.)

A word about design

Microcopy must work together with design – if the two aren’t in harmony, the end result will be an interface that’s frustrating, jarring and just plain difficult to use.

Good app design should be intuitive, guiding users with ease. Great microcopy is no replacement for effective design, and great design cannot replace effective microcopy. Still with me?

What makes good Microcopy?

Microcopy should be;

  • As short as possible (each word must serve a clear purpose, or be brutally culled)
  • Friendly and conversational (rather than rude and robotic)
  • Encouraging, prompting the user to think out loud (hmm, what does it want me to do here…I see!)
  • Unambiguous
  • Present only if needed (if your user can figure it out for themselves, let them)
  • Accessible (‘ask for pricing’ is better than ‘request a quote’)

What Microcopy doesn’t have to be


Microcopy should be clear, succinct and useful. It doesn’t have to put people to sleep.

Many brands use microcopy to inject humour and personality.

An error message doesn’t have to contain dry, standardised copy, as eHarmony demonstrate:

‘Uh oh, that page couldn’t be found. But you’re looking for love in all the right places – let’s find someone right for you.’

And if your microcopy directs users to leave a review, your grading system can be delightful rather than dull (as shown by Yelp, who use ‘Eek, methinks not!’ for one star and ‘Woohoo, as good as it gets!’ for five star reviews.)

Microcopy can be cheeky, silly, fun, funny but never frivolous. It’s there to do a job. How it does that job is up to you (or you and your (micro)copywriter – see below.)

Need some Microcopy?

If you’re creating a new app or website, give some thought to investing in a professional (micro)copywriter.

This isn’t a very small wordsmith. It’s an experienced professional, who has spent many hours and days crafting bite size text for a wide range of audiences.

E-commerce sites, in particular, can often lose customers if their checkout process is long or stressful (abandoned baskets littering the virtual aisles.)

Keep users on board, engaged and focused, with microcopy that’s expert, not accidental.

Who can help?

As luck would have it, I’m a (micro)copywriter (I also write great big copy too.)

I got an A* for GCSE English.

And if you hire me to work on your app or website, I’ll be able to afford the stock image of ants carrying the ENTIRE alphabet that I’m lusting after for this post. As it stands, one ant, one letter (free image.) That makes me sad. It should make you sad too (have you no heart?)

Contact me now.