In this post, we’ll take a look at how to choose a niche, and how to discover a niche you’d enjoy. I recommend proofreaders and copy editors market themselves to at least one niche, on top of keeping themselves open to all kinds of content.
Proofreading and copyediting are like trade skills. You undergo training so you know how to do them properly instead of guessing as you go and risking mistakes. And when people ask me what special proofreading or copyediting skills they need to work in a specific industry or on certain content, I tell them it’s all the same.
The skills are transferable to any industry. What’s different is the content type and any specific knowledge or expertise you need to work on that content.
Why You Should Choose A Niche For Proofreading And Copyediting
If you choose a niche, it will allow you to target a specific type of client and position yourself as an editorial expert in that industry. Proofreaders who focus on a niche or niches, are able to command more money depending on the industry, and are able to reach out to potential clients in a more direct way. This is an excellent way to build up your professional portfolio. Being in a niche also opens up doors for referrals.
Books Are Unique
Fiction and nonfiction books, whether they’re traditionally published by a publishing house, or are self-published, have their own editorial considerations on top of traditional proofreading and copyediting skills. That’s because for books, preserving the writer’s voice is the main goal of editing. Maintaining consistency is also a proofreader’s or copy editor’s priority.
One of my niches is romance books. I started working on them when I worked for a global book publisher, and after I left to work from home, I continued to focus on marketing myself to the romance genre. If you want to hear about how I got into romance, click here!
In my free training masterclasses, I always stress how proofreading and copyediting for books requires specific editorial processes. If you’d like to join the next masterclass, fill out the form below, and we’ll notify you of the next class!
Know Your Niche
If you want to focus on a particular niche but don’t have much experience or none at all in it, then you can educate yourself by taking courses, reading books, or speaking with professionals within the niche.
For example, if you want to focus on the agriculture/gardening niche, you can study books, articles, or websites to familiarize yourself with the language and terms. You need to be able to demonstrate that you have a deeper knowledge of the industry than the average person. However, it’s not always necessary for every industry, and it depends on the client’s requirements.
How To Choose A Niche
The easiest way to choose a niche is to look at what you already know or have experience in. There’s less of a learning curve.
Using agriculture as an example again, if you grew up on a farm, then you would have an understanding of what’s involved in agricultural duties, specific words and terms, and what issues are of concern to those in farming/agriculture. You would be able to understand the material you work on, and be able to spot inaccuracies and inconsistencies.
Also look at your educational background. What did you study in school? Have you taken any continuing education courses or participated in workshops where you gained valuable knowledge?
And of course, if you have a job, what tasks are you doing that can be the foundation of a proofreading and copyediting niche?
Some questions to ask yourself to find a niche:
- What are my hobbies?
- What am I passionate about?
- What comes easily to me?
- How do I spend my free time?
- Am I an “unofficial expert” in something?
- What are people always asking me for help with?
- What skills do I have?
Here’s another example: Let’s say cars are your hobby. You subscribe to magazines, go to clubs, read websites, attend auto shows, and know everything there is to know about cars.
Did you know that there’s a lot of content out there for car hobbyists? It’s a very lucrative industry with many publications, websites, products, shows, and books that all require proofreading.
With your knowledge of cars, you won’t be limited to just hobby content. You can approach publications that focus on restoration, sales, super cars, race cars, etc. You can also see how far your automotive knowledge will extend by venturing into the motorcycle niche. You can keep spreading out from there into different niches as you feel comfortable.
At the beginning of my publishing career, I worked part time as an editorial assistant for a trade magazine for hairdressers. Beauty quickly became a niche for me. I worked on hair, then makeup, then products, then health, and it all rolled into one lucrative niche.
I ended up doing proofreading and writing for a hairdressing magazine, a cosmetic surgery magazine, and a natural health site.
As an aside, there was a motorcycle magazine in the building that was always looking for editorial help, and when they approached me, I had to decline because I knew nothing about anything automotive.
Past work and volunteer experience are also excellent ways to develop a niche since it’s real-life knowledge. Some niches are always looking for proofreaders and editors with expertise in their field. For example, construction publications are always looking for editorial help due to the lack of people with experience in that industry.
When you choose one or more niches to market yourself to, you’ll be able to establish a name for yourself and to make more money since some niches pay more, like medical or software.
When deciding what to focus on, make sure it’s something you’re genuinely interested in. And you can still leave yourself open to proofreading and copyediting different types of content in various industries. This formula of niche + different content will help you grow a successful business in the long run.