Freelance Medical and Health Writing as a Part-Time or Full-Time Job
Many freelance writers who cover topics on healthcare and medicine have a professional background in the industry. They may have worked as a nurse, a fitness trainer, a pharmacist, a social worker, or a related background or work experience. Not every writer has this knowledge or the ability to write on complex health and medical topics. The good news is if you lack such technical jargon but have a deep-seated interest in covering the growing trends in healthcare and medicine, you can find plenty of work writing for non-technical trade journals and consumer magazines.
Level of Experience
Having existing experience in this field will let you tap into an assortment of higher-paying jobs like writing medical documents for drug companies or ghostwriting articles on behalf of doctors and specialists for medical journals. Otherwise, as a writer with general knowledge in healthcare, you can find an abundance of opportunities writing on general health issues for parenting magazines, lifestyle magazines, women’s magazines, nutrition magazines, sports magazines, and the list goes on.
Writers without a background in health and medicine must be exceptional researchers to support what they say on medical or health issues. To keep myself apprised of new trends or popular topics in healthcare, I like to peruse Google News (http://news.google.com) each day. Google has a category called “Health” that will bring up the most popular and important news stories for the day. This will help you assess what the public finds most interesting to them.
Have researchers found a new treatment for cancer? Is the supply for vaccines enough this year? Is there a new diet that is healthier? Is too much caffeine really safe for kids?
Answering these questions will greatly interest individuals concerned with health and wellness. If you can drum up the answers—supported by factual data and/or quotes from experts—then you can develop an article that most editors will want to buy.
Basic Skills of a Medical Writer
Editors like to see proof of your skills and knowledge in writing health and medical articles. This means you will need to provide samples of your work. Editors don’t care if a publication had paid you for an article or not. Your credibility and knowledge lies in the construction of the article itself. The editor wants to judge your writing style, how you engage readers, how you support factual data, and your expertise on the topic.
A portfolio of samples and published clips will help establish your credibility and skills as a serious writer. If you lack a portfolio, as many aspiring writers do, you have a few options. You can write a bunch of general health/wellness articles and submit them to publications that welcome submissions, such as a local newspaper, a health-related website, a hospital newsletter, etc. You probably won’t receive payment, but editors will welcome your contributions and publish them. You can then include these articles in your portfolio and reference each one with the name of the publication that published it.
Medical and health publications want experienced writers because this is a highly specialized niche. However, sometimes a few published articles in known or specialized publications will give you enough credibility to convince another editor to review your work and possibly publish it. After your first paid gig it becomes easier to sell your work.
Finding Freelance Medical Writing Jobs
With some writing samples in your repertoire, the next step is to start writing query letters and sending them out to editors. A query letter is a one-page sales pitch that introduces you and one article topic that you’d like to write for the publication. It also tells the editor why you are qualified to write the article and how it interests and engages readers.
Here some useful tips to write a query letter:
1. Research the publication. Go to the publication’s website and read some of its articles to familiarize yourself with writing style and content. What does the editor publish? What are some hot topics?
2. Introduce your idea or article topic before you introduce yourself. In fact, you should introduce yourself towards the end. You can awe editors by introducing original ideas—not by writing a resume. Editors won’t browse your clips if you can’t convince them to like your idea.
3. Concentrate on why the editor should publish your article. Although you are telling the editor what you intend to write, you are really persuading the editor to see how your article will interest readers and grow the publication’s readership.
In addition to sending out query letters with focused article topics, you may also want to contact editors of popular online websites related to health, wellness, and medicine. Again, double-check that your article matches what they publish and what their readers want to read.
Lastly, you can find job ads on job sites like CraigsList.org, Online-Writing-Jobs.com, andFreelanceWriting.com. You can also find plenty of writing gigs at outsourcing marketplaces like Upwork.com and Freelancer.com. You can simply type in the keyword “health” and it will list all open gigs pertaining to “health.”
[ Search for Freelance Medical Writing Jobs | Online-Writing-Jobs.com ]
Common Pay Rates for Medical Writers
Pay rates vary depending on the publication, the type of article, word length, topic timeliness, etc. The going rate is somewhere between $100 and $600 for a 600-word article. Websites generally offer cheaper rates because they have an overflow of writers seeking to write for them. Editors like to pay per word, between $0.20 cents per word and $1.00 per word, based on one’s experience and the publication’s popularity. Seasoned professionals with a PhD degree and 15-plus years of experience usually can command up to $1.00/word.
Replying to a Job Ad
Let’s assume you see a job ad that interests you. Read the job ad below and think about how you’d respond to it.
Wellness Weekly Magazine is accepting articles on alternative health treatments for senior citizens and general health trends. We pay $0.50 to $0.90 per word. Word length should be between 500 and 1,200 words.
This publication seems to cover alternative health issues, so decide if what you are pitching matches the purpose of the publication. Alternative health topics might include organic eating, alternative medicines, western medicines, mental health therapies, and so on.Sometimes you will see a job ad that doesn’t explain a whole lot, so you either have to contact the editor for more information or really scrutinize the job ad to figure out the editor’s specific needs.
Before you reply, visit the publication’s website and research its content. You may also find an editorial calendar that outlines what the publication intends to publish in each issue. Once you have familiarized yourself with the publication, you are equipped to pitch your article idea.
Remember always to consider the viewpoint of the editor and the publication’s readership to sell an article.
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