Tools for the Freelance Writer
Trying anything new can be a challenge. We all need to start somewhere and expertise is gained only through practice and persistence. Many of us have years of clinical knowledge and related stories to share, which is why nurses make great writers! Here are a few tools that continue to help me as a new freelance healthcare writer. If you’re considering entering the world of freelance writing, I hope they will help you too!
If there’s a new avenue you’d like to try in your career, chances are someone is out there doing it already - and well. Find them and learn from their experience. Despite my original hesitancy to join the masses, social media has proved to be a great way to meet other freelance writers and build a strong support network. I’ve found LinkedIn the most helpful. It allows me to search for other writers by name or title and can give a sense of what kind of writing they like to produce. See who they are writing for. Does it interest you or relate to your nursing experience? You can never have too many leads for potential future work. LinkedIn has opportunities to join nursing and/or writing groups there also - many are closed groups and require just one click to request free membership access.
Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and even Pinterest are studded with connections for the new freelance writer. The trick is to keep changing your search words to find your niche: freelance health writer, health care writer, content writer, etc. Here are just a few websites I like to frequent:
Adding someone as a friend on LinkedIn or Facebook is a great start, but sending personalized emails can really help strengthen your network. I have been astonished by the level of assistance many other nurse writers were willing to provide to a new freelance writer. I’ve been given great advice on my growing business, leads for work and even online tools to keep my expenses/invoices on track. If you are serious about pursuing this area of nursing there are many experienced writers who are more than willing to share their knowledge with you. Just ask.
When starting out it can be difficult to even know the scope of work you are capable of.
- What exactly is ghostwriting? Copywriting? What does SEO stand for? Can I only write about the field I currently work in? How should I cite my sources?
If you have no prior writing experience, there is a fair amount of research needed at first to catch up and sort through all of the new terms used in the freelance writing world. Large websites don’t typically lead to a ton of work for a brand new writer, but it can help you identify the types of jobs out there and prepare your body of future work. You can also see a variety of pay rates. Some websites I’ve found helpful for this are:
- How It Works - Upwork
- Freelance Writer Jobs, Employment | Indeed.com
- Hire Freelancers & Find Freelance Jobs Online - Freelancer
- Freelance Writing | Helping Freelance Writers to Succeed since 1997
It can be difficult to land a steady paying gig if you’ve yet to publish any articles to date. Many freelancers will tell you never to work for free. I consider competitions the exception to the rule, especially for beginners. There are many sites that release upcoming writing competitions weekly or monthly and entries can range from poetry to science fiction. Use these as writing exercises or an excuse to stretch your brain a bit and try a different genre altogether.
The sense of community among freelance healthcare writers is strong and after months of research I’ve been lucky enough to stumble upon some great online communities. The following internet sites have given me a sense of support and pride. They have allowed me to meet many others in the freelance world - at all levels of expertise.
- National Nurses in Business Association (NNBA): National Nurses in Business Association - Welcome Page
If you haven’t yet - sign up! They provide many invaluable resources for any nurse starting their own business and have a yearly conference packed with great information for all nurse entrepreneurs.
- Healthcare Writers Network: Healthcare Writers Network | The Social Nurse
This online community is incredible! They host many fun events like #freelancefriday where you can enjoy a happy hour drink with your fellow freelancers while discussing relevant topics, #socialsunday where you can post your published work for the week and receive valuable feedback, and host #pitchfest where you can try your hand at pitching a willing company and even win cash prizes! The founders are passionate, experienced and incredibly approachable, making this my absolute favorite site to visit regularly.
- Writers Digest: Write Better, Get Published, Be Creative | WritersDigest.com
This was where I first began my writing journey, purchasing The Writers Market Deluxe Edition 2017. It gave me many useful tips when starting out and continues to serve throughout my evolving freelance career. The website has many opportunities for online learning, lots of helpful articles related to writing tips, hosts many competitions, and has an online store with a multitude of in print resources.
What doesn’t exist: onesite that will tell you how to best break into this field. You need to hunt & gather information - keeping the gems you need and disposing of what you don’t. Time spent researching now will be more than worth it’s weight down the line. I’ve learned it is okay to ask for help and that many of my fellow RNs turned writers are more than willing to assist in my career move. I still have much to learn but feel a whole lot better with a great community to support me in my progress. Get out there and write, my friends!Last edit by Joe V on Oct 20, '17
About Ashley Hay, BSN, RN
A freelance healthcare writer with over 10 years of nursing experience in several areas of pediatric & adult oncology including clinical research, chemotherapy, transplant, hematology, proton therapy, GI surgery, wound care, post anesthesia recovery, etc.
Ashley Hay, BSN, RN has '10' year(s) of experience and specializes in 'Oncology'. Joined Aug '16; Posts: 82; Likes: 296.May 26, '17So glad you like! It can be so hard to navigate a new area of nursing. Hope it helps. Good luck!May 27, '17Thank you for sharing this! As a freelancer, what has helped me is networking with other small business owners. They ALL need content support. Meetups, Conferences and related events directed towards writers/ journalists/PR can be very helpful as well.May 30, '17Thank you for the information. I've done Health Care Promotions as a spokesperson, model, and writer for a celebrity fitness guru with Fit Tv and other networks. This lead to many other opportunities as a writer and it was all health care related. Many articles were published in magazines and on the National Fitness Hall of Fame Website, and I gained a permanent position as a health/fitness writer for a magazine.
I've found it difficult to squeeze the writing in these days, although it's one of my favorite things to do and share. It's amazing how much our stories and experiences help others. I suppose I got lucky because I was selected out of a huge group to go to Hawaii and do this fitness production-that's where it all began. Actually it was a thank you letter. Being grateful did pay off!May 30, '17The National Nurses in Business Association (NNBA) conference provides lots of informative sessions for those new to freelancing as well as seasoned freelancers. There are an abundance of networking opportunities as well. allnurses will be exhibiting at the conference this year. I would love to meet you there.May 31, '17A great article with some really awesome resources! Triple love the shout out to the Healthcare Writers Network facebook community! My favorite part is the diversity of the group....in experience level, in clinical specialty, in writing niche! Well...that, and getting to know you!