When it comes to becoming a freelance medical writer, taking the plunge isn’t easy. Career goals, pathways and strategies are different for everyone, as we all have unique aims, objectives, needs and desires.
Before you start your freelance career, you’ll need to make plans and decisions that accurately reflect your health & medical writing ambitions and your business goals.
We’re all on individual health writing journeys – some of us want to become journalists, while others want to write marketing content.
Some of us want to work for not-for-profits, while others want a family-friendly business that allows us to balance freelancing with parenting.
What are your career goals?
I know you’re itching to get started.
You want to set your freelance rates, start quoting for health and medical writing jobs and – of course – begin working and get paid.
But, freelancing is a long-term job – a marathon, not a sprint. It is important to plan ahead and think about the future.
So, before you focus on the practicalities of becoming a freelance medical writer (setting up a website, getting on social media, starting a blog and finding new clients) it’s time for some self-reflection.
These questions will encourage you to think carefully about your freelancing future – so you can make sure you’re fully prepared before you take the plunge.
1. Why do you want to be a freelance medical writer?
Is it because you:
- Love both writing and health/medicine?
- Don’t want to work for a company anymore?
- Want a flexible career?
Whatever your rationale – and I’m sure it’s a great one – you should be certain that you’re making the choice to go freelance for the right reasons. Making quick, easy money is not the right reason! Remember – marathon, not sprint.
Be realistic about your motivations for wanting this career change.
Know that you need to put in a lot of hard work to make your freelance medical writing business a reality.
There are no quick wins in the freelance world – though if you can stick it out, the rewards are golden.
2. Where do you see yourself in one year’s time?
- The type of freelance medical writer you want to be – full-time or part-time
- Medical and health clients you could write for – brands, nonprofits, government, small business
- The writing style you want to focus on – consumer or academic?
- How experienced you are in writing, health and medicine – and whether you need to take health writing courses or further training (check out my free health writing checklist to get you started)
When you have answers to these points, you can focus on developing a plan to make your freelance medical writer goals a reality.
Without thinking these things through, it’s like you’re trying to build a house with no blueprints.
You might have what you need to get started, but planning is what differentiates the great from the average – to the downright disastrous.
3. How do you feel about having no guaranteed income?
- Can you handle the sporadic income of a freelance medical writer?
- Are you good with money and expense tracking?
- How do you feel about chasing clients who don’t pay?
- Have you thought about what you could charge – your rates and the quoting process?
If any of these questions make you feel uneasy, freelancing may not be an ideal career option for you.
Freelancing requires a careful, considered approach to financials. You’ll need to spend a lot of time planning, tracking and chasing invoices.
4. What are your goals for your freelance medical writer business?
- Where do you want to be in 12 months, 2 years’ and 5 years’ time?
- Do you want to grow your business and employ other writers?
- Do you want to offer services in addition to writing (ie graphic design, website design)?
Considering your business goals and personal development is vital.
Try not to make decisions that may restrict your potential for future growth – particularly with regards to your business name and domain name.
5. Will you be comfortable marketing your business online?
Will you be able to:
- Write a website that promotes and sells your writing services?
- Use social media to network and find clients?
- Put yourself ‘out there’ and develop a strong digital footprint?
If you can’t do any of these things, you may find it difficult to grow your business.
These days, we aren’t just freelance medical writers – we’re marketers, accountants, salespeople and networkers.
We wear many hats – and the marketing hat is the biggest of all!
You need to be able to market your business comfortably and confidently.
Have I given you enough to think about?
If you’re considering a career as a freelance medical writer, I hope this post has helped you to consider some of the key decisions and processes that are involved in this career change.
And, if you’re ready take the plunge, but need a little help getting started, check out my freelance medical writing course.