Why Being a Generalist Freelance Writer is Holding You Back

Picture of Carla Tensuan

Carla Tensuan

Photo by Sandip Kalal from Unsplash

Many writers opt to be a jack of all trades, becoming a generalist freelance writer to cast a wide net. Diversifying your skills may attract a broad client base. However, this approach might be the anchor holding back your potential growth and success.

Being a generalist freelance writer may seem lucrative initially, allowing you to find opportunities across niches. Versatility is commendable, but you spread yourself too thin, dabbling in everything but mastering nothing. The lack of specialization inhibits the development of your unique writing voice, dilutes your expertise, and blurs your professional brand in a sea of competition—making it harder for you to stand out in a fiercely competitive market.

It’s time to reconsider your freelance writing approach. This article explores why choosing to be a specialist rather than a generalist could be what propels your career. Discover how homing in on a niche allows for deeper knowledge, stronger client relationships, and a more fulfilling writing journey.

The generalist freelance writer

Photo by Peggy Anke from Unsplash

As a generalist freelance writer, you have adapted your writing style to fit various topics and industries. You may pride yourself on being able to tackle any writing project that comes your way, whether it’s a blog post, an article, or a product description. While this versatility can make you an asset to clients, it can also limit your growth and prevent you from achieving true expertise in a particular niche.

One drawback of being a generalist is that you may be spread too thin. With a wide range of topics to cover, staying updated on the latest trends and developments in each field can be challenging. This lack of deep knowledge can affect the quality of your writing and prevent you from providing valuable insights to your clients. Additionally, constantly switching between topics can be mentally exhausting and may lead to burnout in the long run.

The drawbacks of being a generalist freelance writer

Photo by Wesley Tingey on Unsplash

While being a generalist can open a wide range of opportunities, it can also lead to a lack of focus and direction in your freelance writing career. You may struggle to stand out and attract high-paying clients without a niche or specialization. Clients often seek writers with in-depth knowledge and expertise in their industry or subject matter. By positioning yourself as a generalist, you may inadvertently be positioning yourself as a jack of all trades but an expert in none.

Another drawback of being a generalist is that building a solid personal brand can be challenging. Specialization allows you to develop a unique voice and establish yourself as an authority in your chosen niche. This can help you attract a loyal following of readers and clients who appreciate your expertise and insights. Without a clear specialization, your brand may appear generic and unremarkable, making it harder to differentiate yourself from other writers in a crowded marketplace.

How specialization can help

Photo by Stefan Cosma from Unsplash

Specialization can be a game-changer for freelance writers. By focusing on a specific niche or industry, you can deeply understand the subject matter and become an expert. This expertise will enhance the quality of your writing and enable you to provide unique insights and perspectives to your clients. As a specialist, you can command higher rates and attract clients who value your knowledge and experience.

In addition to higher earnings, specialization can lead to increased job satisfaction. When you specialize in a niche you are enthusiastic about, writing becomes more than a job. It becomes a fulfilling pursuit where you can constantly expand your knowledge and contribute to the conversation in your industry. This passion and enthusiasm will shine through in your writing, making it more engaging and impactful.

Shifting towards specialization

Photo by Sora Shimazaki from Pexels

If you are convinced that specialization is the way to go, you may wonder how to shift from a generalist to a specialist. The first step is to find your areas of interest and expertise. Reflect on the topics that excite you and the industries where you have experience. Consider your earlier writing projects and find any patterns or themes that appear. These insights will help you narrow your options and choose a niche that aligns with your skills and interests.

Once you have chosen a niche, it’s time to start building your expertise.

  • Read books, articles, and industry publications to stay updated on your niche’s latest trends and developments.
  • Attend conferences and webinars to network with experts and gain valuable insights.
  • Contact influencers and thought leaders in your field and offer to write guest posts or collaborate on projects.

The more you immerse yourself in your chosen niche, the more your expertise will grow and the more valuable you will become to clients.

Rethinking your freelance writing approach

In conclusion, being a generalist freelance writer may be holding you back from reaching your full potential. While versatility is valuable, specialization can open up new opportunities and help you stand out in a crowded marketplace. By focusing on a specific niche, you can develop deep knowledge and expertise, attract high-paying clients, and build a solid personal brand.

Take a moment to reflect on your freelance writing approach. Are you a generalist or a specialist? If you’re ready for a change, explore potential writing niches and take the first steps toward becoming a specialized freelance writer. Your future self will thank you.

About the author

Carla Tensuan is a freelance writer, editor, and communications specialist. She specializes in crafting creative copy, blog content, and press releases. She enjoys listening to podcasts, reading books, and practicing yoga in her free time. She lives with her husband in Manila, Philippines.