How to Keep a Steady Stream of Jobs as a Freelance Medical Writer

    Most successful freelance medical communicators seek a steady stream of work by cultivating a roster of trusted repeat clients. 

    It is a mutually beneficial arrangement. When clients find a reliable freelancer who knows their business and produces high-quality work, they'll stick with them.

    However, even busy and successful medical writers need to continually cultivate new business contacts. There are steps you can take to identify new freelance opportunities that are a good fit for you, while keeping up with your current workload.

    Staying Ahead of the Curve

    Many freelance medical writers find themselves in one of the following situations, whether it's every few months or every few years:

    • You're busy now, but clients are experiencing major changes and your future work prospects are uncertain.
    • Your current projects are winding down, and suddenly there are no new assignments on the horizon. Your earnings stream will take a dive unless you find something soon.
    • You want to work a more normal schedule and escape the evenings-and-weekends pattern that currently cuts into your personal or family time. But the projects that you keep must compensate you well enough to maintain your current income.

    Part of running a thriving freelance business is staying ahead of the curve and continuing to turn up new opportunities today that could turn into well-paying, steady work in the future. The axiom for freelance success still applies: Always do great work, and never stop marketing.

    Easier said than done, of course. Between juggling multiple assignments, assessing new offers, preparing bids, watching your cash flow, and keeping your skills current, you have little time to spare. Life can get in the way, too — sometimes a tree falls on the house, your presence is required at school, or the water heater springs a leak.

    Nevertheless, finding new freelance opportunities requires marketing your services. Here's how.

    Keep Networking

    Networking is crucial for keeping a steady flow of referrals from current clients and colleagues — and it is usually the easiest way to connect with new prospective high-quality business opportunities. Make the most of your social media connections. Also,

    • Consider a professional website. While it may not be a primary source of prospective clients, a website can act as a reputation marketing tool.
    • Start a blog. Or guest-author posts on someone else’s blog.
    • Join social groups and participate in the conversation. Follow industry leaders, clients, and potential clients.
    • Keep your social presence professional, or create a separate presence for your business.
    • Subscribe to industry blogs.
    • If you haven’t already, join a professional association like AMWA.
    • Attend and present at conferences and workshops in the industry.

    Keep in Touch with Current Clients and Your Best Prospects

    Retaining and adding projects from existing clients costs far less than finding new prospects. And it works both ways — it is easier for clients to assign new work to freelance medical communicators they already know and trust, and who understand their needs. 

    Even if your current customers don’t need your services now — and they often don’t — you want them to be thinking of you when the next opportunity comes along. Find ways to stay in touch.

    • Touch base at a specific time each month to make sure their needs are met.
    • Share industry information that you know they would find useful. Include a brief personal note.
    • When you complete a project, always invite feedback, and ask if they have additional needs you can help address.

    Know What Customers Are Looking For

    In addition to your networking activities, follow news in the industry and examine the hiring patterns. Browsing full-time job postings will tell you much about the needs of prospective clients. There are countless sites for businesses, medical societies, and academic institutions, many of which will post offers for jobs and contract work. There are also specific resources for medical communicators, such as AMWA’s Jobs Online for job postings and Freelance Directory for promoting your services.

    Look for job postings under a variety of titles. In addition to work for medical writers, check out offers for scientific writers, technical writers, health care marketers, or communication specialists.

    You can also find temporary positions or freelance opportunities posted on company websites under Careers, Current Openings, Employment, or similar links.

    Expand Your Offerings

    Many freelancers begin their careers writing on a wide variety of topics and specialize as they progress in their business. Consider branching out again, but in a more strategic way, both in content areas and in the work products you may be able to offer.

    If you have been writing for a particular specialty, consider related fields and explore related professional organizations and publications. 

    It also helps to discover what other types of writing assignments your existing clients offer. If you have been writing about regulatory compliance for a specific customer, they might also need someone to write training or assessment materials. Can you help write or collate information submitted to regulatory agencies? Grant applications? Decision aids for patients?

    Look for other types of editorial opportunities such as medical editing, rewriting/quality control, or proofreading.

    Stay Current

    Make a regular practice of keeping your skills sharp, even when you are busy. Keep tabs on the most important websites and publications in the areas you specialize in for news about new technologies or practices. 

    One of the best ways to guarantee a steady stream of lucrative clients is to continually build your skills and experience with additional training, which is available through educational institutions and through AMWA Online Learning.


    April 8, 2024 at 9:42 AM

    American Medical Writers Association

    AMWA is the leading resource for medical communicators. The AMWA Blog is developed in partnership with community members who work every day to create clear communications that lead to better health and well-being.