Are you feeling confused about how to find freelance medical writing work? Don’t worry; you’re not alone.
The path to finding freelance medical writing opportunities can seem confusing, especially when compared to the traditional job search process.
Unlike job seekers who rely on advertised positions, freelance medical writers often need to adopt a more proactive approach.
But finding freelance medical writing becomes more straightforward when you focus on three key areas:
- Laying the foundation
- Being findable
- Actively searching for jobs
Let’s break it down.
1. Laying the foundation
To kickstart your career as a freelance medical writer, there’s a significant amount of groundwork required.
Be prepared to spend a good couple of months laying the foundation if you’re completely new to freelance medical writing.
I know that feels frustrating if you’re itching to get going, but it’s important to be patient and stay focused to give yourself the best chance of succeeding.
Laying the foundation involves evaluating your skills and planning your business launch.
Before you begin reaching out to potential clients to find freelance medical writing work, you need to be prepared.
Follow these steps:
- Make sure your writing skills are strong enough to work professionally – be realistic about your skills, and upskill by taking one of my certified health writing courses or check your skill level with my Medical Writer Skill Assessment
- Know your freelance health writing niche – are you focusing on medical copywriting, patient education materials, health feature articles or plain English?
- Decide on the writing services you will offer – will you provide writing, medical editing or allied services like graphic design?
- Create a list of your ideal clients – which medical brands and businesses would you love to work with? Be specific as well as generic.
- Have an idea of who you DON’T want to work with – this can help you narrow your focus.
- Have a strong health writing portfolio with relevant samples – your portfolio should showcase your best writing samples on a variety of medical topics with a mix of different types of writing, such as articles, blog posts, website copy, and patient education materials.
Once you’ve completed the foundations, you’ll need to get the business side set up.
Attend to the business nitty gritty, including:
- Defining your key non-negotiable freelance writing terms
- Acquiring necessary documents, contracts and templates
- Streamlining your processes and developing a project workflow
- Setting your freelance medical writing rates
- Creating a professional website
- Establishing a strong,convincing LinkedIn page
While these steps may not directly lead to job opportunities, they are essential prerequisites for finding freelance medical writing work.
2. Being findable
Being findable is essential because you want clients to find you, not the other way around.
When clients find you, it means they have an immediate medical writing job that needs doing.
On the contrary, when you approach clients proactively through cold emailing, they might not necessarily have a current medical writing job available.
Therefore, you’re more likely to find freelance medical writing work when clients seek you out.
And now that you’ve decided to become a freelance medical writer, it’s crucial to make your presence known online.
Operating in secrecy is not an option; potential clients must be aware of your existence!
Be comfortable sharing your professional persona online to a degree that suits you.
Some people love to share their private lives on social media, while others keep things more secretive.
Decide how much of yourself to give and know there’s no right or wrong approach.
You need to be comfortable when you share your personal information online.
Your clients and readers will feel it if you’re uncomfortable, and your business marketing won’t be authentic.
Be findable on LinkedIn
Even if you don’t want to post regular updates on LinkedIn, you’ll need a professional LinkedIn presence.
At the minimum, you’ll need a complete page with a detailed bio and link to your portfolio and website.
Your LinkedIn page MUST highlight your medical writing skills and experience.
Don’t worry about the number of connections you have – nobody cares. Your potential clients want reassurance that you can write quality medical content, not that you are popular!
Be findable on Google
Yes, you do need a freelance writing website if you want to be a successful freelance medical writer.
I’ve always said that due to my personal experience; having a freelance medical writing website worked so well for me over the years.
The vast majority of my freelance writing work came through my website.
So, I’m a huge advocate for a good-quality medical writing website.
A well-structured website will help you appear in relevant searches when potential clients are looking for your services.
Make sure your website is optimised for your key terms (eg freelance medical writer + your city).
Network with other medical writing professionals
Networking won’t only help you find freelance medical writing work, but it will also empower you to build friendships, share challenges and learn from your peers.
Make it a priority to attend industry events, join online communities and connect with people on whichever social platforms you choose to focus on.
Let people know that you’re a freelance medical writer and that you’re open to new opportunities.
You can find freelance medical writing work through networking because other writers might need help with overflow, or they might recommend you when they aren’t taking a job due to being too busy or it being unsuitable.
I frequently recommend certain writers for certain types of projects, based on what I know about their skills and experience.
Experienced medical writers also often discover work through the hidden job market, where clients reach out directly because they believe you are the perfect fit (this typically takes time and requires a solid professional network).
3. Actively searching for work
Actively searching is, in some ways, the most straightforward part as you’re hunting down the work.
It’s not coming to you – you’re looking for it in the same way you look for any type of job – going to job websites and searching for jobs or reaching out to people.
Actively searching for freelance medical writing work can be challenging, but if you’ve done steps one and two, then you should have some success with three.
Here’s how to get to it.
Search for freelance medical writing work on job websites
Search for jobs, or set up job alerts for key terms like “freelance medical writer” so you’ll get notified when new jobs get posted.
LinkedIn is becoming one of the most popular job boards for freelance medical writers.
Use the search function to look for freelance and contract work.
You might also stumble upon full-time roles that are suitable, too.
Freelance job boards and marketplaces
There are a number of online job boards and marketplaces that list freelance medical writing jobs.
Some popular options include Upwork and Freelancer.
Just be careful that you’re not agreeing to work that doesn’t pay you what you’re worth.
Cold email, aka pitch directly to potential clients
Once you’ve identified some potential clients (remember you did this in part one – laying the foundation), reach out to them directly by sending a cold email and introducing yourself.
Explain your experience and qualifications, and let them know what types of projects you’re interested in.
New to the concept of cold emailing? Check out our cold emailing to find medical writing clients guide here.
You can also try cold emailing freelance writing agencies who may be able to connect you with clients who are looking for medical writers.
Agencies can help you with support and guidance as you start your freelance career.
Ready to find freelance medical writing work?
Now, you have plenty of strategies to help you get started.
As you’re building your freelance medical writing business, focus on what you can control – your skills, your visibility and your work ethic.
And if you’re not feeling confident yet, I’m here to help!
I’ve supported many hundreds of aspiring medical writers in launching their freelance medical writing careers.
Here are my top resources to motivate you to get going:
- To plan your freelance career transition: Freelance Health Writer Business Planner
- To launch your freelance medical writing business with expert guidance and support: How to Become a Freelance Health Writer Course
- To explore career opportunities and learn more about the industry: Breaking Into Health Writing Course
- To read more about life as a freelance medical writer: Freelance health writing blogs
- To get started for free: Getting started as a freelance health writer: The beginner’s guide