Cornering the Market? Or Feeling Cornered?


I remember how good it felt when I first published this piece on YourTango. Finally, I thought to myself. Something that’s not about sex.

I was reminded of this yesterday, when I appeared on a radio show to talk about the experiences detailed in the article. Near the end of our chat, one of the hosts asked me where listeners could find more of my work. I dutifully rattled off my url.

Afterwards, I panicked. Poop! I thought to myself. When they go to my site, all they’ll find is sex stuff! Is that really all I want to be known for?

I’ve previously covered the benefits of both generalizing and specializing. Today, I’d like to talk about how to widen your net if your niche is no longer enough.

Examine Your Life For Your Areas of Expertise:

It still amazes me that, as a major prude, I somehow became pigeonholed as a sex writer. I remember one ill-fated lunch meeting with the deputy editor of a major magazine. I had come prepared with a number of story ideas and, after pitching them all, she’d said, “Those sound interesting. But I’m more interested in hearing what you have for our sex section.” ::sigh::

Since then, I’ve written about work/life balance, home decor, blogging, music, self-help, and debt. These are all things I just happened to be dealing with in my own life. It’s all about examining your own life for strong interests, hobbies, and passions.

Answer Your Own Questions:

Can’t find the answer to that nagging quandary or conundrum? Chances are, at least one other person is suffering from the same problem. Why not provide the answer yourself?

Sometimes, the best way to come up with fresh content is to answer an unanswered question.

Happily, you’ll also learn a lot in the process.

Start Small:

When you’re breaking into a new area (as when you’re breaking into any new field), the trick lies in getting your foot in the door.

Try targeting smaller (and more local) publications before going for broke and querying the major glossies.

Big or small, it’s also often easiest to break into the front-of-book sections first, as a means of proving yourself before being trusted with greater responsibility.

For tips on what to pitch, I like to search through MediaBistro’s How to Pitch series. It’s not the be-all-end-all, and many of the pieces are now out of date, but it’s a great start. You should also read back issues of any publication you’re thinking of pitching, for trends in tone, formatting, etc. I’d also like to plug Susan Shapiro‘s Writing for NYC Newspapers & Magazines class at New School. During the second half of the semester, she brings in guest editors every week for Q&A sessions. Completely invaluable.

Build Your Own Platform:

You can also do what I did in the realm of career writing, and start your own blog! It can act as a platform for future assignments, lending you expert cred and legitimacy if done well.

I’ve blogged about blogging before, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t just point you toward my own blogging guru, Darren Rowse of Problogger. He’ll tell you everything you need to know about starting your own blog and building it into something big.

I’d love to hear of others’ success stories in breaking out of the box!


  1. My friend Andrea has written extensively about sex, too, and when she started a parenting blog ( and tried to pitch it to some parenting websites, their editors were more interested in her sex-writing experience, too. Maybe there aren’t a lot of really competent people out there who can write about that topic?

  2. @Jennifer: It’s bizarre, b/c I feel that sex writing became this trendy thing a few years ago, and then the market was flooded. And now sex writers are losing their jobs (then again, everyone’s losing their jobs). I like your interpretation, though. 🙂 I am a sex writer extraordinaire!


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