The first step to finding your niche in the writing market is saying good-byes to the dead-end ones. Just like the first step to solving the problem is accepting that there is a problem, it is crucial to get a better grasp of the areas you are working with to eliminate the ones that have no perspective for future growth and professional development. It took me some time to define three major career-killers in writing, which go as follows: 

Academic writing

academic

For starters, it’s unethical. Doing somebody else’s homework for money is… well, cheating. If this moral dilemma is not something that troubles you, here is another aspect to think over: academic niche will never give you a chance to make a name writing. After all, the rights to your work are sold, and you will never have a claim on your research paper, no matter how polished to perfection it may be.

Next, the fees are ridiculously low. This is totally understandable — the target customer is a student, and students cannot afford to spend a lot. So, low client fees. Plus, the tasks are usually distributed via shady agencies that take a lion share of these charges. This is also understandable — because apart from the actual low-grade writers, the staff consists of higher-class proofreaders/editors and a bunch of managers on top of that — and they all have to be paid, too. But, unfortunately, this is the only way for an academic service to ensure a more or less decent quality of their papers — with the writers they employ.

Even Upwork makes a point of prohibiting academic projects, and we all know that despite its high project turnaround, the site is not exactly a golden mine — not for everyone, at least. This makes academic writing agencies your only option — and it is not a good option at all. 

Ghostwriting (fiction)

Ghostwriting

A similar principle applies to fiction ghostwriting. Once again, you have no claim on your work, and you get a really small fee for it, having no share in the future profits at all. Projects like these will keep you living from hand to mouth (at the very best). And, of course, no matter how great a writer you are, you will not have a chance to boast your published work. If you ever decide to make your own way in the publishing world, you will literally have to start from scratch — your previous experience will not exist in the publishers’ eyes. 

Web content for bots

There is a difference between SEO-articles targeting people and web content no human being will ever read. Even though it is still possible to find some SEO-heavy projects promoting a variety of commercial services and products, the niche is a dying one. First of all, with Google introducing AI, it becomes harder and harder to promote robotic content — even when it was technically written by people.

search-girl

Next, most projects like these are low-paid. The emphasis here is on quantity, not on quality. This, however, is not the only problem. Robo-copywrite contributes to better SEO ranking and — sometimes still — company recognition, but it has little impact on writer’s professional reputation.

The worst thing, though, is that you get used to a lower quality of writing. There is no realistic feedback on your articles — simply because no one truly cares. As long as the keywords and the site rankings are fine, you can write any nonsense that pops into your head. As a result, one day or another you stop trying — and this is the day you stop growing as a professional. 

I've personally been through academic and robo-writing stages, and I know how tough it can be to let go of a seemingly lucrative opportunity. But, at one point or another, you start realizing how trapped you truly are and, what is even worse, that you might be burying your talent for the sake of ridiculous profits with zero recognition. For you, though, it might be the right time to start learning from somebody else's mistakes for a change.