In Writing, Generalists Eat Last…Specialists Will Rule the World
Writing is an act of love, frustration and days of pounding on the computer hoping to capture those few words of magic out there shimmering on the edge of your sanity, but thoughts that often remain so elusive.
Generalist writing, where you attempt a variety of subjects to hone your writing skills and help find your voice, is where every future writing professional should start, but the more years you remain a generalist, the less success you will find.
Generalists too many spend years writing about too many different things, but then are known for nothing because your work remains too random to define their career
Specialists create their own path in writing and business. Find something that ignites your passion, learn more about that subject than any other human being, and you can create a long and financially successful career as the expert, or the specialist who becomes the go to source for that subject.
Owning a subject matter means you become the person that defines that subject to the rest of us. It doesn’t matter if you want to become a small business marketing specialist, or the next influencer/writer on the sexual adventures of Millennials, if you own the subject, write about it from one hundred different angles, then create the content that defines our understanding, then you are the expert and we turn to you to entertain us, guide us, and answer questions that only you can answer.
Start with the bigger picture
What general topic interests you enough to make it the start of a career? For example, if you want to specialize in women in fitness, read everything written about the subject, research the journals, and understand the larger concept first.
You can’t become the specialist without mastering the foundational aspects of what you want to learn. Specialists are able to draw upon the current writings and thoughts on the subject because they become the source that has processed the details and nuances only an expert could know and then share.
Women in fitness is the big picture; women over forty would be an example of a niche or specialization. Writing about the fitness needs of a young woman under eighteen, a working woman in her 20s, and then trying to include a woman in her 40s is too much, and too broad. Pick a niche, know more about that niche than any other human being, and you will always find work as that expert.
Master everything touching your niche
Once you pick your niche, then master everything that supports that niche. What does this woman think about food? What does she read? What is she afraid of in fitness? What myths does she believe that need to be dispelled? What parts of her lifestyle works against her fitness success? You can’t own the specialization until you master everything that touches that specialization.
Exploit your niche
Once you declare and own your specialization, you then exploit the work you have put into it. You now become the “source” by writing about every angle of the niche.
You can do workshops on the subject as an expert who has done the research, there might be a book in the subject matter as well, and there are blogs, social media video, podcasts and an endless list of writing and other projects that establishes you as the expert in that field.
Most source experts eventually become consultants, where you share with others how to approach and work with your niche. For example, if you own the fitness after forty niche for women, shoe companies might seek you out for marketing ideas, women’s groups might want you to lecture on the big lies in fitness all women have been taught, and you might do work consulting on other side issues, such as food and clothing.
It is important to start with the book in mind. You are creating your own working brand as a niche specialist, so who better to write the big book than the person who owns the category?
Books are credibility, and as a source expert you might work with a publisher that needs you to cover that niche for the general public. Specialists write narrow, meaning you might write a series of books on a number of aspects your women after forty struggle with in fitness and nutrition.
The flow (example one)
Bigger picture: women in fitness
Possible niches: women in college sports; women and fitness with the first child; women and the benefits of mind/body workouts; fitness for women after forty.
Pick one you want to own: Women and fitness after forty.
The flow (example two)
Bigger picture: sexuality and women
Possible niches: young working women and sexual issues; sex after menopause; single after forty; sexual fears and inhibitions.
Pick one you want to own: young working women in major metro areas.
Being a generalist is where we all start in our writing careers. Specialists is where we all should finish if we want a long and financially productive career as professional writers.