by Michelle Guillemard
“I’m a capable health writer. Can I take on new projects if I don’t have direct work experience? For example, can I accept a blog writing job if I’ve never written a health blog?”
This question reminds me of the chicken and egg situation. How do you get experience if everyone wants someone with experience?
First, it’s important to realise that there’s a difference between experience and direct experience.
As a confident writer, you already have experience. And, in the health & medical writing industry, there are many different types of projects.
If you waited until you had experience in every single project before putting yourself out there, you’d never get started!
However, two styles that are, I feel, important to get to know are feature articles and blogs.
If you have never written in either of those styles, I’d suggest you practice before offering feature and blog writing services.
Learning how to write features and blogs gives you a good grounding for other projects, too.
You’ll learn how to develop a compelling idea, conceptualise a piece from beginning to end, research an evidence-based topic, find high-quality research, hone your unique writing voice and personality, and follow a brief.
For other niche projects: I believe the best way to learn is to give it a go.
As I’ve said in the past, this mindset is not about faking it until you make it – it’s about adapting your approach to suit a variety of writing styles.
Some clients will want direct experience, and there’s nothing you can do about that.
Other clients will be happy to work with you if you demonstrate confidence in your ability to deliver a high-quality result.
Remember that every project has different requirements – one client’s newsletter is another client’s feature. So, flexibility is essential.
Don’t assume that every feature should look, feel and flow the same. Instead, investigate what the client wants, ensure you capture the key requirements and develop a strong brief.
Effective requirements gathering involves understanding the key specifications, project aims, business objectives, ideal reader, tone and voice, and, very importantly, examples of similar work.
The more information you have before you start working, the more likely it is that you’ll deliver what the client wants – even if you’ve never worked on a similar project before. Ask questions, and never guess.
Ultimately, you are the best judge of your capabilities. Don’t be afraid to push yourself outside of your comfort zone, but recognise your limitations, too.