Exploring the World of Freelance Writing for Nurses

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by Elizabeth Hanes Elizabeth Hanes, BSN, RN (Trusted Brand)

Specializes in Freelance Writer, 'the nurse who knows content'. Has 14 years experience.

I love showing nurses the possibilities of a writing career. Here are two possibilities that can be considered tailor-made for nurses.

Is it possible for a nurse to make a living as a freelance writer?

Exploring the World of Freelance Writing for Nurses

Recently I penned a post about why nurses should join the gig economy. I don’t deny I’m high on gig work for one simple reason: I’m a gig worker, myself.

Specifically, I’m a freelance writer. And I love showing other nurses the possibilities of a writing career to:

  • Earn great money
  • Free up valuable time to spend with family
  • Use their nursing knowledge and skills to positively impact massive audiences of people
  • Fall in love with their career again

If you’ve ever wondered how you could earn a living (or make extra cash) as a writer, here are two possibilities that can be considered tailor-made for nurses.

1. Healthcare Content Marketing

This is the type of writing I do, and it’s an excellent choice for nurses to pursue. Content marketing writing might be aimed at patients (such as a health system newsletter for patients with diabetes) or at executives (such as a technology blog for CNOs). Nurses can excel at this type of writing because they bring to it an insider knowledge of healthcare that other writers just don’t have. Clients prize this added insight because it helps them achieve their business objectives: acquiring new patients, selling more products or expanding their influence in a community (among other things).

The umbrella term ‘healthcare content marketing’ covers many types of writing, including:

  • Web pages
  • Ghostwritten blog posts for clinicians and thought leaders
  • Ebooks
  • White papers
  • Case studies
  • Brand journalism (reporting on health for a healthcare company instead of a news organization)
  • Digital newsletters
  • Infographics
  • Scripts
  • Brochures and pamphlets
  • Slideshows

…and lots, lots more. Some of the clients you might serve as a freelance healthcare content marketing writer include:

  • Hospitals and health systems
  • Healthcare technology companies
  • Insurance companies
  • Medical device manufacturers
  • Medical supply companies
  • Private medical practices
  • Marketing agencies
  • Healthcare associations

I’ve been involved in this industry for nearly 10 years, and I can tell you the demand for healthcare content writers continues to build, year after year. Yet the vast majority of healthcare writers aren’t nurses or clinicians of any kind. That means now is a great time to finally explore that idea you’ve had of becoming a writer – and making an excellent living at it!

2. Medical Communication

Do you geek out over reading research studies? Love digging into the MOA of drugs? Then you might love a career in medical communication.

Professional medical communicators work with research scientists, institutions, pharmaceutical manufacturers, the government and others to produce hard-core scientific assets like:

  • Manuscripts for publication in research journals
  • Policy and regulatory documents for institutions and the government
  • Continuing medical education modules
  • Drug applications
  • Marketing materials related to new drugs
  • Grant proposals

…and, again, much more.

Nurses make excellent medical communicators because of their educational background in the biological sciences, among other attributes. This type of writing typically pays very well, due to the level of scientific expertise required for accuracy.

Can a Nurse Really Make Money at This?

Nurses pursue freelance writing for many reasons. For me, the main reason I became a writer was because I loved personally educating patients and felt frustrated that I could only work with maybe five or six people a day. Listening to me kvetch about this one evening after a shift, my late husband commented, “You know, with a single article on a website like WebMD you could reach literally a million people all at once.”

Lightbulb moment. And a career was born.

But, yes, as it turns out you can make excellent money as a writer. Personally, I routinely gross over six figures per year. It didn’t take me long to reach that level, either: five years. I had a previous background in freelancing, though, so I understood the ropes a bit better. That said, I’ve also mentored nurses who had zero background in freelancing and achieved six figures in less than two years.

So, yeah. You can make money at this.

What Kind of Investment is Required to Become a Freelance Nurse Writer?

Unlike other types of business opportunities, becoming a freelance writer requires zero investment. It’s a zero-risk endeavor, because you can work from home, on your own computer, on your own hours, in your spare time to develop a client base. Later, you can decide if you want to leave the bedside for good and make your living as a nurse writer. Many nurses prefer to freelance on the side instead of making their business a full-time job.

That’s the beauty of gig work like this: You can mold it to suit your own preferences and needs.

Where can I Learn More?

If you’re intrigued and want to find out more about freelance writing as a career, check out these resources:

I’m happy to answer any questions, too!

Elizabeth Hanes BSN RN is 'the nurse who knows content.' For a decade she has helped major healthcare brands communicate with their target audiences to build relationships and drive business results.

17 Articles   297 Posts

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25 Comment(s)

Susie2310

Susie2310

2,073 Posts

Can you direct us to samples of your published work so that we can see the types of writing you provide?

Elizabeth Hanes, BSN, RN

Specializes in Freelance Writer, 'the nurse who knows content'. Has 14 years experience. 17 Articles; 297 Posts

Thank you for asking, @Susie2310 ! I always love sharing samples of my work.

You can view some here:

Hanes Healthcare Communications

Over the course of 20+ years as a freelance writer I've amassed thousands of "clips" (work samples), but these are the most recent ones and provide an idea of the types of writing I provide.

Let me know if you have other questions!

Beth

tnbutterfly - Mary, BSN, RN

Specializes in Peds, Med-Surg, Disaster Nsg, Parish Nsg. 154 Articles; 5,900 Posts

This is a great article! Beth, thank you for sharing your expertise and personal experience.

Elizabeth Hanes, BSN, RN

Specializes in Freelance Writer, 'the nurse who knows content'. Has 14 years experience. 17 Articles; 297 Posts

Thank you, @tnbutterfly - Mary! When you love your job, it's always easy to share the enthusiasm with others!

db2xs

db2xs

733 Posts

I was an editor and writer before I changed my career to nursing. I am very interested in doing something in this again so thank you for this article!

Edited by db2xs

blushpink

blushpink, BSN, RN

Specializes in Cardiac, NICU, CM. Has 12 years experience. 26 Posts

Thank you for sharing your expertise! I have worked in public relations before becoming a nurse. I would love to write and get published again. I hope we can keep in touch.

tnbutterfly - Mary, BSN, RN

Specializes in Peds, Med-Surg, Disaster Nsg, Parish Nsg. 154 Articles; 5,900 Posts

3 minutes ago, blushpink said:

Thank you for sharing your expertise! I have worked in public relations before becoming a nurse. I would love to write and get published again. I hope we can keep in touch.

You are welcome to submit articles to allnurses for publication. You can post questions about submitting an article here or send me a Private Message.

Beth will be here as well to answer questions.

Nurse Yoni, BSN

Specializes in Med-Surg, Business, Health, Finance. Has 6 years experience. 1 Article; 13 Posts

Thanks for this piece. Very resourceful.

Elizabeth Hanes, BSN, RN

Specializes in Freelance Writer, 'the nurse who knows content'. Has 14 years experience. 17 Articles; 297 Posts

On 11/23/2019 at 12:16 PM, db2xs said:

I was an editor and writer before I changed my career to nursing. I am very interested in doing something in this again so thank you for this article!

Awesome! Nice to meet you! It's definitely a good time to get back into writing - either as a side gig or a full-time job.

On 11/25/2019 at 4:47 AM, blushpink said:

Thank you for sharing your expertise! I have worked in public relations before becoming a nurse. I would love to write and get published again. I hope we can keep in touch.

Nice to meet you! Definitely consider writing for allnurses. It's an excellent way to get back in the writing saddle.

And, yes, I'm always here to answer questions, too.

Elizabeth Hanes, BSN, RN

Specializes in Freelance Writer, 'the nurse who knows content'. Has 14 years experience. 17 Articles; 297 Posts

On 11/26/2019 at 6:53 AM, Nurse Yoni said:

Thanks for this piece. Very resourceful.

Thank you for your kind words! I'm glad you enjoyed this!

Beth

NurseCopywriter

NurseCopywriter

Specializes in Correctional Health. Has 19 years experience. 3 Posts

Awesome article. I'm a nurse turned copywriter. I ghostwrite for doctors, nurses, lawyers, etc. Writing is actually my passion, so I feel fortunate that I can merge the two disciplines.