When you’re evaluating contractors to take care of several projects around your house, do you look for different people who each specialize in one aspect of construction? Or do you want someone who has a broad range of skills and knowledge and can take care of all your needs?
It might depend on the project or the timeframe or the cost. But there are certainly pro’s and con’s for each path.
There’s a similar debate surrounding copywriting. Are you better off selecting someone solely focused on your industry and type of project or would you rather use a writer with a broad range of experience in various types of content pieces and industries?
Similarly, there are divergent opinions on the “specialist vs. generalist” when looking at it from the writer’s point of view.
One camp of writers feels the most lucrative business model is focusing on a narrow vertical niche. The theory here is that if you only do one type of project – case studies, white papers – or write for one type of industry – legal, finance, healthcare, IT – you can become a subject matter expert in that area – and charge premium prices for your work.
Another group suggests it’s better for a writer to be more broad based producing many types of projects for a diverse group of clients in different verticals. The thought here is that exposure to a broad range of clients and industries improves your depth of knowledge in many areas. You can then bring insights learned from one industry and apply them to another. In the end, you become more valuable to your clients because you can bring more to the table – ideas that someone locked into one specific niche might not have.
I happen to belong to that second group. I’ve worked with a broad range of clients in industries like healthcare, technology, sales and marketing, and manufacturing. I’m constantly finding new ideas from subjects in one industry that can be applied to another. My clients appreciate that I can add perspectives and concepts from other industries to the pieces I do for them.
And the reality is that in today’s business world, various disciplines usually intermingle. There is a technology component to organizations in every industry, and sales and marketing experience comes in handy when writing collateral for any type of business.
For example, a month ago I was working on a white paper on MACRA – the new Medicare payment program being launched in January. One of the key components of the new law is a renewed focus on the use of technology by healthcare providers. My experience writing content for several technology companies came in handy when I was researching and writing that section.
Also I recently had to create a sell sheet for a company that manufactures parts for the railroad and aerospace industries. The knowledge on sales techniques and customer behavior I gained from working on an ebook for one of my marketing clients helped me develop the sell sheet.
Over the past few months, I created several case studies for one of my technology clients. The interviewing experience I’ve gained writing corporate and newsletter articles and feature articles for newspapers was critical in being able to conduct in-depth interviews to get to the heart of the case study stories.
So some copywriters are happy staying in their lanes focused on a particular niche, and they obviously make a good living doing it. Me? I prefer a more broad based approach to the work I do. Most importantly, I think it improves my writing overall which ultimately benefits my clients.
So when determining who is going to create your content, evaluate not only the writer’s particular specialty, but also what breadth of knowledge and experience he or she may bring.