Wendy Komancheck on Choosing Her Freelance Writing Specialty

First, figure out where your ideal clients hang out. Then make a plan. Develop relationships instead of just looking for the next client. - Wendy Komancheck on Freelance WritingRecently we've been looking at the issue of specialization for freelance writers. John Soares and I covered the issue on the podcast, and we kicked off a blog series where freelance writers talk about their own specialties, how they market themselves, and how new freelancers can do the same.

Today we're going to continue with that series with landscape writer, Wendy Komancheck.

Interview with Wendy Komancheck, Landscape Writer

Wendy Komancheck - Landscape WriterWendy Komancheck specializes in writing for green industry clients -- covering lawn care, landscaping, and outdoor living (not to be confused with the green energy niche). She made the move from print publications to content marketing writing, such as blog posts and web copy, after discovering an unfilled demand in this market on social media.

In this interview, Wendy shares her story about how she got into her current freelance writing specialty, the benefits of that specialization, and tips for newer freelance writers who are still looking for a niche of their own.

What made you decide to specialize in writing copy and content for green industry clients? Before writing for trade publications in that area, you wrote for local papers. Did you cover topics in this industry for them, or was your move to trades the start of your green industry focus?

If I remember correctly, I did a mix for my local newspapers and I did write about gardening topics. I interviewed local garden centers and extension agents on different garden topics--usually by season.

Then I started writing about small to medium-sized farms for a trade publication company and my local newspapers (agri-tourism and keeping farmers farming were big topics back then).

The trade magazine company I wrote for also published magazines focusing on lawn care and landscapes. And I moved to interviewing experts and business owners in the green industry.

Given your industry specialty, do you tend to also specialize in working with local clients, or do you work with a broader target market? Are there particular types of clients or projects you take on more than others (such as blog posts for industry-focused sites vs copy for landscaping companies)?

I mostly work with lawn care and landscape companies across the U.S. Right now, I don't have any local clients. I specialized in part because there was so much local competition that I needed to differentiate myself from the competition.

I write for small to medium-sized lawn care and landscape companies as well as a national chain. I've also worked for marketing companies who landed a green industry client. I've developed a specialty of writing digital marcom--blogs, case studies, white papers and web copy. I don't do a lot of advertising/catalog copywriting.

I like a mix of committed clients and one-time big projects. I like to develop long-term relationships with my clients--but I also enjoy variety in my work. I can only write about crabgrass and grub control so much before I'm sleeping at my keyboard.

What have been the biggest benefits of specialization in your freelance writing career? Has specializing had any significant downsides for your career?

Benefits--Since I was one of the "first" writers in my industry, I've become a "brand name" of sorts. And my business is growing because I stay committed. I gradually "grew" the business by hiring a local website designer, buying some social media ads, and trying to keep up with all of my social media marketing duties. I recommend that a new writer develop a budget as well as a long term plan. INMO: It's best not to take on debt if at all possible.

The downsides: Getting clients to pay on time! And wearing many hats--I do all of my own accounts receivable/payable, marketing, business development, client consultants, answering emails/phone calls etc. And it's hard to take time off...especially this year since I had more clients consistently hiring me from the high busy season of late winter/spring through July. Usually my work load drops off in June. I'm glad for the uptick. I'm just trying to learn better time management skills.

If you had to choose one or two marketing tools or tactics, which would you say have been most effective in helping you reach your target market in this specialty area?

First, figure out where your ideal clients hang out. For example, I know of food and homemaking bloggers who do a lot on Pinterest. My clients hang out on Twitter, LI and Facebook.

Then make a plan. What are your clients' pain points? How do you solve them? Then you start blogging, posting, etc. on those sites where your sales prospects hang out.

Also, join associations, LI groups and other organizations related to your niche. Go to trade shows (even small ones in your local region). And make a plan--especially when you start out. If you decide to blog 1-2x a month--stick with it.

Develop relationships instead of just looking for the next client. Treat others on social media how you'd like to be treated. And, please be professional--hire a photographer to take your picture and keep it clean...a good friend of mine took my pics.

What one piece of advice would you give new freelance writers who are looking for a specialty area of their own?

Think about what you're passionate about. Make a list of 5-10 things that you feel strongly about and businesses that serve those areas. Then do some research and see if this is an area that's under-served or one where you could ease your prospects' pain points.

Keep the customer's needs first. And if I could offer a second piece of advice--get a mentor and continue learning. Right now, I have a SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives). Last September, I connected with a mentor because I had some clients who weren't paying. I also needed help with business development. My SCORE volunteer has helped me A LOT in making my business successful.

Here's some encouragement: I have a degree in English/Secondary Ed. Yet, when researching possible niches--I had zero passion about writing education topics. But farming, gardening and outdoor structures were very interesting to me. There are a ton of garden writers out there--so I needed to be different from that crowd too. Since I also had a passion for helping small businesses succeed through marketing, I married my two passions together to form this satisfying career.

It's not too late to be the first, or at least one of the first, freelance writers to specialize in a niche, and Wendy is a great example of that. So if you're still struggling to find a freelance writing niche, dig a little deeper. You don't need a huge target market to fill a full-time freelance schedule.

Do you have an interesting specialty area you think All Freelance Writing readers would enjoy hearing about? Tell me about it in the comments or email me, and perhaps I'll reach out to interview you for the series.

Profile image for Jennifer Mattern

Jennifer Mattern is a professional blogger, freelance business writer, consultant, and indie author. She runs numerous websites & blogs including All Freelance Writing, Freelance Writing Pros, NakedPR, and Kiss My Biz.

Jenn has 25 years' experience as a professional writer and editor and over 20 years' experience in marketing and PR (working heavily in digital PR, online marketing, social media, SEO, new media, and thought leadership publication). She also has 19 years' professional blogging and web publishing experience (including web development) and around 18 years of experience as an indie author / publisher.

Jenn also writes fiction under multiple pen names and is an Active member of the Horror Writers Association.

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8 thoughts on “Wendy Komancheck on Choosing Her Freelance Writing Specialty”

  1. Great interview.

    Wendy has built a name for herself. Hell, I’ve heard of her and I don’t write in that space! So, well done, Wendy!

    I do agree with Wendy on finding niches that interest you. Your background often doesn’t mean shit if it’s not something you want to spend your days writing about.

    Also, don’t overlook areas that are drawing you in naturally. I know a writer who wrote a small series for the local paper. He’s now a to-go source for the Affordable Care Act. In fact, his business has increased because he can now use that experience to gain more clients.

    I completely agree with hanging out where your potential clients do. It’s the best way to build name recognition, and you barely have to break a sweat.

  2. What a fascinating specialty! I briefly worked for a marketing agency as a blogger and social media writer for a local outdoor living and landscaping company, but I never would have thought you could specialize in landscaping alone.

    And Jen, I’m specializing in online video & YouTube, so let me know if your readers want to hear about that.

  3. Great tips she shares here, it is applicable also for people like me who are blogging in a particular niche , though I am doing it on my own business. And as read it over and over again, like in here, you really have some kind of passion to what you are writing about, and not just do it for the money

  4. Thank you for this and for all the other articles on finding a specialty. I recently (i.e. last week) decided I want to get into freelance writing, but have been struggling with where exactly to start. My background is in environmental science and I love science reporting, so it’s a relief to find out I can focus on what excites me instead of forcing myself to be a generalist. I still need to figure out where to go from here, but at least I have a direction. Thanks again–your words have been very helpful!


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