Freelance medical writing can be a lucrative, rewarding, and flexible career. Yet even if you have been writing professionally for years, you may have questions when it comes to how to create a solid client base and find steady work. The following tips can help you start your own freelance medical writing business.
Tip 1: Decide on a Focus.
Medical writers work in a variety of fields, producing a large assortment of medical content. An important consideration when beginning your freelance career is what kind of medical writer you want to be. Defining your niche can help you focus your networking and marketing efforts. For example, regulatory writing is highly scientific and involves creating documents for federal and regulatory agencies. Promotional writing involves writing for the purpose of selling or promoting a product. Educational writing involves creating content for the purpose of educating others. You may want to build on experience you already have in one of these areas, or take this opportunity to branch into another aspect of medical communication.
Tip 2: Zero in on Your Audience.
Once you know which type of medical writing you’d like to do, the next step is to define and target your audience of potential clients. One great way to start this is by developing your online presence on websites such as LinkedIn. Take the time to complete and maintain an accurate and professional profile. From there, you can seek out contacts and join groups in your industry.
Tip 3: Get Ready to Market.
Another essential step is to set up a website and create business cards and other promotional materials. Freelance writers need to be able to promote themselves and develop a strong online presence, and it’s important not to skimp here. Make sure to include listings in resources such as the AMWA Freelance Directory as part of your outreach strategy. The content you write about yourself should reflect your expertise and talent and should effectively convey your skills and experience. Remember, as a freelance medical writer, you’re not just a writer — you’re a marketer, business owner, accountant, salesperson, and networker. Of all your non-writer roles, the marketing one is perhaps the most important.
Tip 4: Network, Network, Network.
It’s also important to take advantage of every opportunity to connect with other professionals and present your skills, experience, and availability. Professional associations such as AMWA are a vital resource for freelances. Members participate in regular conferences and networking events and are listed in member directories. They can access a listing of job opportunities and use it to connect with new clients. With each new contact, make sure to focus not just on promoting yourself, but on delivering value. Doing this will help attract clients to you, reducing the need for you to go out and look for them.
Tip 5: Get and Stay Organized.
In addition to writing to and seeking – and keeping – clients, freelance medical writers are also responsible for the day-to-day operations of a business. This includes administration, invoicing, and even hiring and managing subcontractors.
It is imperative to keep clear records of deadlines, hours, and billing. Depending on how complex your operations are, this can be done by creating an Excel spreadsheet or by using a more sophisticated system involving business management software, such as QuickBooks Online. Then, as your business grows, it’s important to expand and evolve your systems to keep everything running smoothly.
Freelance medical writing is an excellent option for writers who want to provide value to clients on their own terms and schedules. To learn more about how to start your own freelance medical writing business, watch the AMWA webinar series Unlock The Secrets to Freelance Success, which shares insights from successful freelance medical writers.