Do Writers Need a Niche?

Here is one thing I keep questioning. I keep going over it in my mind and it just keeps drifting into my thoughts. Do writers need a niche to be successful?

The thing is, I don’t have a niche. I don’t even know where I would start. I like to write on many different topics – actually, a lot of times I choose to write about things that I know nothing about, just to gain more knowledge and broaden my horizons.

Of course, there are topics that I choose to write about more often than others, but that’s mostly because I have the most experience in those areas and therefore the articles are easy for me to research and write. The closest thing I can think of as being my niche would be event planning or marketing writing. However, that doesn’t mean I can’t write on other topics. When I look for clients or jobs, I look at each option separately, I think about what they are asking for and if I think I would be able to meet their needs. If I think I am a good fit for a client or a job, I apply.

I’ve read lots of articles and blog posts lately on choosing a niche. They all recommend that you select what you like to write about, research the topic and then select a way to make yourself unique in that niche. First of all, I like to write about almost anything, so that leaves me pretty open. Every topic I think might be a good fit seems to be overly crowded and it seems very difficult to make one self stand out. Not that I’m not up for the challenge, but is it worth it? Or would I be better off getting experience in lots of areas, while working on developing a brand for myself as a good, reliable and easy to work with writer?

Sure, there are writers out there that have created a great niche for themselves, but a lot of times it seems like they didn’t necessarily go out looking for a niche, it just kind of evolved. So maybe, I’m just over thinking this. Maybe if I’m meant to have a niche, it will evolve over time and when I realize what it is, then I can work on developing it. Until then, I think I’ll keep my options open, I don’t think it hurts my chances of making it as a writer to have experience in many topics.

What is your niche? How did you find it and develop it?

Associated Content vs. eHow

notebook-pen2I’ve been thinking a lot about eHow and Associated Content (AC) lately. I am currently a member/source for both respectively. Now, mind you, I don’t have many articles on either site, I have seven on eHow and four at AC with one processing to be exact. So, I haven’t really spent a lot of time with either, preferring to go after higher paying gigs. But, I keep reading about people making a lot of residual income a month on eHow and it has gotten me thinking that I should maybe invest some more time into both of these sites.

First though, I want to compare the two to see if one is better than the other. It is obvious from reading up on both websites that eHow is by far the more popular option. So many more people have tried it and so many people are talking about it. However, in my experience, AC gives writers a little more freedom to write. There is no set guideline for writing articles, they don’t have to be in the “How to” format; which I feel gives me more freedom of topics and much more to work with when writing articles. On the other hand, you can’t just sign up for AC and get articles published. You must write three articles and get them approved before they give you the freedom to publish your articles instantly.

Now here is where it gets a little interesting. AC allows you to decide how you want to publish your articles. You can publish your article as exclusive, which means you pretty much give up all your rights to the article except your byline, you can go with non-exclusive, which means you can re-publish the article other places, but you cannot remove it from AC, or you can choose display only, which means you can take it down whenever you want and publish it elsewhere. Once you have chosen how you want to publish your article, you can also decide if you want to put it up for upfront payment review. This means that your article will be available to be purchased by AC or their partners for a flat fee AND you can still earn performance payments (which is based on the number of page views, the same as eHow).

I have been a member of eHow for over a year and I made a whopping $10 last year. This year, so far I have made $0.40, pitiful, I know, but again I haven’t put forth much effort. On AC, I have made $5.53 since January when I signed up. I know this is not much either, but it is over half of what I made on eHow in an entire year. Yes, it has helped that two of my articles have sold (for a very small amount, I know, but still it’s something), and I am making money on them for page views. Plus, I have fewer articles published on AC than eHow and my performance earnings are almost the same. Of course, we are talking about pennies at this point, but I think I may be onto something here.

The one thing I like about eHow is that it is a community. They give you many opportunities to network with other writers if you choose to take advantage of their groups and seeking out friends (which, to be honest I haven’t done yet). I haven’t seen that AC has this option, but they do give you many tips on how to market your articles, which can be very helpful. Both sites give you a profile on which you can promote your website, blogs and other work. That to me is a tossup right now.

I’m not totally convinced either way, I don’t have a lot of knowledge about either site right now, but I think it is worth my time to read up on both sites to see how to choose better topics and generate more page views. I must say that with the bare minimum knowledge, so far, AC has shown me more potential. I’ll keep you posted as I try to boost my article numbers and marketing opportunities on both sites. What experiences have you had with these sites?