Freelance Writing: Write What You Know

One of the ways to improve your freelance writing, and establish yourself as an expert, is to write what you know.

Among the most common pieces of advice you are likely to receive as an aspiring freelancer writer is writing what you know. There are good reasons that “write what you know” is such common advice:

  • It takes less research to write about something you are already knowledgeable about, so you can write faster.
  • You enjoy it more since it's something you (presumably) like as well as know.
  • There is a good chance you'll have more ideas about what to write since you have a good breadth of knowledge.
  • It's easier to establish yourself as an expert if you already have a knowledge base.

Writing what you know can be a great way to get started and a solid way to showcase your expertise and find a niche in which you can really gain a reputation.

Freelance Writing: Two Ways to Write What You Know

There are two main approaches as you try to figure out how to write what you know. You can focus on what you already know and use what you're researching.

What You Already Know

When many of us think about writing about what we know, we think about our current expertise. This makes sense in a lot of ways. Draw on your own knowledge to find ideas and show an authoritative voice. Indeed, I started out as a science writer because that is what I followed and what I “knew” from my days as a physical sciences major. I wrote for a great physics website for years and even wrote a few small, front-of-the-book pieces for Discover magazine. I assumed that I would write about science and religion since these were things that I knew a lot about.

What You're Researching

However, you don't have to just write about areas where you have a great deal of knowledge. In fact, when I started out as a personal finance writer, most of what I knew were my horrible, horrible money mistakes. I began researching finances and reading what financial gurus had to say. I also began trying things out on my own and learning what worked for me. Through research, experience, and trial and error, I began figuring out my own money philosophy. Now I write almost exclusively about finances — at least for pay.

Sometimes we discount what we know when it doesn't come from formal training or interests we have followed for years. However, the truth is that part of what you know is also what you are learning. Share the journey with others, and everyone can learn a little more. Write what you know, and write what you are interested in. Even if you don't know a lot about the subject right now, you can improve your knowledge as you go.

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