If you’re contemplating a move from working as an employed health writer to working for yourself, it’s important to realise the magnitude of this decision.
Working as a freelance health writer has the potential to change your hours, job purpose and even personal life.
A recent Australian survey conducted over three months by Survey Sampling International on behalf of SEEK learning found that over half of people surveyed would consider a career change as they felt their career was unfulfilling.
But is transitioning to freelancing really the change you’re looking for to feel more fulfilled at work?
Before you decide, here are six questions to consider.
Question #1: How will you juggle everything?
Working freelance means you’ll need to set up an office at home.
Balancing family priorities alongside career commitments can be a juggling act – especially if you still have infants or toddlers at home while you work. You may need to consider the following questions:
- Do you have a designated office space that is separate from family intrusions and activity?
- Do you have child minding available during your working hours?
- Will you set strict hours that don’t encroach on time with your family?
Question #2: Are you ready for a different workflow?
Although it might seem obvious, the most important aspect of freelancing is securing work. But, for freelancers, finding and securing work takes a lot of time and effort.
Freelancing means your incoming work is solely reliant on your relationships with clients. Even if you have an existing work arrangement or guaranteed referrals, you cannot avoid the time you will need to spend on securing a client base.
Once you have regular work with several clients, you’ll need to be prepared for peaks and troughs of workload. This can be an adjustment from consistent work arriving on your desk when you’re working as an employee.
Question #3: Can you afford it?
With the peaks and troughs of workflow comes a more sporadic cash flow.
This doesn’t mean you will be taking a pay cut when freelancing. In fact, many freelancers have found a huge increase in their income. What this means, though, is that in one month you may earn more than what you’ll earn the following month.
If you decide to freelance, prepare a budget to plan for periods of slower cash flow.
Also, there can be periods of time when you’re working before the cash flow starts. You may want to set aside some savings as a buffer before you begin.
Question #4: Have you spoken to other freelancers?
Networking with other established freelance health writers can help you decide whether freelancing will suit you.
Your local medical writing associations will host regular catch-ups throughout the year, where you can meet and chat with others who live locally.
If you can’t make your local events, there are many online networking groups that have been set up – contact your local association for details.
If you enrol for a course from Health Writer Hub, you will automatically join our Alumni Facebook group. Past students have found this aspect of the course really helped them as new freelancers.
Question #5: How will you stay motivated?
The reality is that working from home can be lonely. If you thrive on the interaction of co-workers to keep motivated, freelancing may not be right for you.
There are options available to work with others while freelancing, such as working in a shared office space or regular meet-ups with freelancers. However, it’s important to keep in mind the majority of your working hours will be spent in isolation.
If you’re not naturally a self-motivated worker, you may need to come up with a few ideas to help you stay focused to keep working throughout the day.
Question #6: Why do you want to freelance?
This is probably the most important question to consider before making your decision. Do you have a clear reason for freelancing? If you don’t, you may find it difficult to transition effectively.
A clear and obvious goal for freelancing means you can determine your short-term steps to reach your main objective. This planning can give you the confidence to take the plunge and start freelancing.
Make sure you write your goal on a note somewhere you’ll see it once you start freelancing; this reminder can help you stay motivated, especially on those days you need a gentle nudge!
Also, don’t forget Health Writer Hub runs a 6-week online course throughout the year to help you run a freelance health writing business.
Do you have any quick tips to help our readers who are contemplating a move to freelance health writing? Feel free to share in the comments below.