Are you in college, or about to graduate, and interested in becoming a freelance health writer? If the answer is yes, you are about to embark on a great career path.
The world of freelance health writing is vast. There are boundless opportunities, but knowing how to find them can be tough, especially if you’re new to the industry.
In this article, I’ll share how I started my health writing career right out of college, a few misconceptions I had about being a freelance health writer, and steps you can take to get your own career started.
How I became a freelance health writer right out of college
Have you bought into the lie that you need an “adult job” before you can begin freelancing? I remember thinking this myself when I first graduated from university.
The reality is, it’s just not true.
If you went to college, you are prepared to be a freelance writer.
Freelancing isn’t just something you do before you get a “real” job. Any job that provides for your way of life is “real.”
With that in mind, let’s talk about starting a freelance health writing career without any corporate experience.
I graduated college with three different degrees in communication, political science, and Spanish. Yep, none of those were health or science-related. In fact, certain aspects of the medical field give me the creeps – I don’t do blood.
Here’s misconception number 1 about being a health writer: you must have a background in health, science, or research.
The key is knowing how to utilize your experience to position yourself as an expert to potential clients.
You must also demonstrate that you have the knowledge and ability to offer them something they themselves cannot do.
How did I do this?
I fell back on my experience in the sports industry and as a collegiate track and cross country athlete. You see, in college I struggled finding a career path.
I interned in three wildly different industries over four years.
First, I worked in communications for a local non-profit.
Second, I managed social media for the United States Department of State Office of Sports Diplomacy.
Finally, I wrote promotional and commercial pieces for a local sports radio. While it felt like I was jumping around, I would later realize that all my experiences had one thing in common: writing and sports.
At this point you may be thinking, “wow, she had it all together, a degree in communication and lot’s of good experience to draw on.”
This brings me to misconception number 2 about being a freelance health writer: you only get to write academic white papers.
When I graduated from university, I had a huge passion for health, fitness, and sports. I thought I was aware of what a health writer does. In my mind, it was writing medical research papers for healthcare professionals and business or other tedious types of highly technical writing. It’s actually so much more than that.
Opportunities in freelance health writing
Post college, I thought I wanted to work in radio. I got a part-time job working events for a few local music stations.
After only working two or three times per month for a few months, I decided to look into freelance writing on the side.
Four months after college I found my first freelance job writing long-form SEO blogs for a logistics company. The pay was pitiful, but it showed me the potential of freelance writing.
I left the part-time job in radio and decided to focus entirely on pursuing a freelance career. After several jobs writing for general clients, I decided to choose a niche following my passion for health and wellness.
In spite of my belief that all I would be writing were research articles, I discovered health writers actually write any of the following:
- Feature articles
- Social media management
- Health blogs
- Brochures and flyers
- Website copy
- And more.
Like I said, the opportunities in freelance health writing are endless. But, I still had one more misconception about this career choice.
Misconception number 3: the only clients you can write for are doctors.
Wrong again. After choosing this niche, my first client was a healthcare staffing agency that needed flyers and brochures.
Your potential clients could include anyone from a health specialist with their own practice to a government health organization. There are hundreds of websites that accept health article pitches from freelancers, too.
Don’t count out the health-related brands either like clothing and skincare companies.
Steps you can take right out of college or university
My freelance health writing career took several months to get established after college.
I had to conquer misconceptions about this field and learn how to find writing opportunities.
The first few cold article pitches were terrifying, and I didn’t have any clue how they would be received.
Funny enough, one of those first pitches got a response; the company just ended up being too much of a start-up to afford my services. Still, I kept reaching out and finally found success.
Here are four steps I took to get started that you can do to:
- Research health writing advice
- Research the types of health clients and companies you will serve
- Partner with other health writers
- Don’t be scared to put yourself out there.
Health professionals are typically highly educated and driven, but working for them doesn’t have to be scary or intimidating.
Ultimately, writing isn’t their main focus. They’re not writers, but you are.
You have something you can offer them that they need, and don’t be scared to offer it.
Also remember that, while you may work alone, you can always network with established health writers.
Becoming a freelance health writer right out of college is a rewarding career path and one I hope you feel a little more prepared to go down.