Is it Okay to Break Your Niche Sometimes?
It’s important to have a writing niche, but is it okay to cover other topics every once in a while?
“You know how creative people are, we have to try everything until we find our niche.” ― E.A. Bucchianeri
Just like every other career path, writers get burnout sometimes. When you write about different aspects and areas of a certain topic, you’re going to have days where you just can’t think of a new topic to cover within your niche.
For the sake of your audience, it’s undeniably important to have a niche. If people know you as a writer or as a health nut, they might only be interested in that one type of content you post, not all of it. Subsequently, niches are good, but it’s pretty hard to keep coloring inside the lines with your writing niche.
You’re going to have dry spells. You’re going to have days where the subject you’re most passionate about loses a little of its fire.
After all, writer’s block happens.
Being extremely dedicated to one niche can leave you blocking up more frequently.
For me, if I don’t let myself explore at all and write strictly about one topic for too long, I just run out of words. Does this sound familiar to you?
Entire books have been written on the topic of writer’s block. It’s simply an epidemic in the creative community. Mike Rose wrote a whole book called Writer’s Block: The Cognitive Dimension. He describes the plight saying, “delimiting and defining a notion as complex and tinged with myth and popular speculation as writer’s block is more easily said than done.”
While it’s not easy to figure out why we end up blocked up, Rose did research studies on college students and determined the three biggest symptoms of writer’s block were struggling to follow rules, premature editing, and negative self-evaluation.
This is where having a niche gets dicey. You should love your niche, but there will inevitably be days where you just don’t have fresh thoughts about it. Whatever your niche is, you’re ultimately “following rules” of what you think your topic should be. You’re following the rules of what is popular in your niche. These are all great content strategies, but if you’re stuck, it’s going to be hard.
You be might be wondering—is it worth it to have a niche?
It is important to have one, even if it feels like it cramps your creativity at times. A lot of content gurus out there will insist that you need to have a niche so that your audience has a good reason to keep coming back to you. I definitely agree with this since I've found myself in this predicament as a content consumer and frequent reader.
But why is it important to have a niche? The long and short of it is that I’m not an omnipotent being with all the answers to every subject. You probably aren’t either. If I was, I probably wouldn’t be writing online. I’d have a loyal little acolyte transcribing my words into articles for me.
This is why having a niche is important. We all have a few specialties that we can write about at length and discuss all the different facets of it. If you harness those and find the unity in them, that’s your niche.
Since we aren’t omnipotent, that’s why niches are good. However, for the sake of your very human sanity, you’re going to need to take a step away from your niche every once in a while. You’ve got to explore different topics sometimes. When you’re burnout of writing about your niche or just need some sort of mental break, it’s time to try something new. There are ways to do it without getting on your audience's nerves.
Allow yourself to be adventurous and explorative in your writing.
“Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.” ― Louis L'Amour
If there’s something you care about that you want to write about, do it. I’ll have days where I feel like I can’t muster another word on the subject of poetry. When this happens, don’t let yourself wallow in self-doubt about your skill as a writer or your ability to come up with ideas.
Instead, write about something else. See if you have something similar to your usual topic. If not, go on an adventure and explore an entirely new subject to write about. After doing this for a piece or two, you’ll likely have gotten the magic back. You’ll be able to refocus on writing for your niche with fresh vigor.
In a way, this is about work-life balance for writers. Your writing is, in some capacity, your work. Whether it’s how you make a living or if it’s a labor of love doesn’t matter. It’s your work. When you focus on one topic, it will feel like you’re trying to draw blood from a rock. You don’t want writing to become too frustrating or draining.
Exploring new topics will help you be more balanced in how you feel about writing and how your work factors into your typical day. You don’t need a dark cloud hovering over your head because you couldn’t churn out another piece on your niche today.
Creativity is still a component in every type of writing, including content.
If you’re a creative writer doing long-form content to establish your web presence, don’t think about it as something so different from your prose and poetry. Articles still take exercising your creative muscles. This is another reason why you need to break your niche sometimes; exercising your creative muscles on a different subject feels good.
There will always be creativity in your writing. Technical writing makes writers think of creative ways to state things in the clearest way possible. Copywriting is still creative in the sense that you’re following strict guidelines but still creating something that is your work.
Every form of writing demands creativity, but it’s especially true for articles. You need to share your story in a way that’ll be interesting for your reader to follow. You’ve got to structure things so that the advice comes through and answers your reader’s question of “what’s the point of this?”
If you’re not sure about what different topics you want to write about, think about your other interests in life. Here’s a secret — I’m a huge nerd and a gamer. Those topics hardly ever come up in my typical articles, but there’s a wealth of potential untapped content in those subjects.
Having a solid content strategy can make it easier for you to strategically break your niche.
For example, if you post your content on both Vocal and your personal website, your personal website most likely has a set theme. Platforms like Vocal are naturally more flexible to allow you to write about varied topics.
Let's say your content on your website is about books and writing normally. If you usually write about the writer’s life but branch out and do a story on health and wellness, that’s fine on online platforms, but you probably don’t want to post that on your personal website. If you're strategic with where and how you post your niche-breaking content, you may not suffer for it.
Keep in mind that niche breaking in the name of creativity is good, but be mindful of where you post your out-of-niche content. Your personal website probably isn’t the best place for it.
Always have a niche, but explore how other topics can intersect with your niche.
It’s good for you to explore new topics and let yourself write about any and every topic that you’re passionate about. Be adventurous and push beyond your niche's limitations once in a while. It can be surprising how you can find connections between different topics.
For example, I got really into mediation and yoga in the past few years. Even though that's quite different from writing, I discovered how to use meditation to improve my writing. There are a surprising amount of opportunities to bridge the gaps between your passions and do it in your content without breaking your niche.
If you suddenly write 5 stories that don't relate to your niche, publish them gradually.
The way you post your out-of-niche content is important; if you suddenly write five stories that don’t relate to your niche, publish them gradually. Consider a rate of one per week. This’ll ensure your regular audience doesn’t get confused and think you’re suddenly turning in a very new and different direction.
Throwing them all up at once could be off-putting to readers who enjoy your niche, but one different piece here and there shouldn’t bother people much.
All in all, use a niche to inform your writing, but don't let it hold you back.
“After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.” ― Philip Pullman
As a creative soul, you’re going to want to break away from those guidelines sometimes. When writer’s block sets in, it’s time to step away from your usual niche and try something different. This isn’t a permanent change; it’s more like going for a stroll for an hour after you’ve spent the entire day inside. You will return to your niche, but you just have to get out of it sometimes as well for the sake of your motivation.
Be strategic when you leave your niche, but let yourself be creative. Writing is always an inherently creative act. Let that creativity soar in your long-form content.