A Writers Guide to Surviving a Freelance Famine

The feast and famine cycle is fairly common in the freelance world. Meaning you’re either up to your elbows in deadlines, staring at a screen through blurred vision stemmed from exhaustion or you’re trying to figure out what to do with yourself until the next gig comes along. Since I’m sure you can figure out a thousand ways to fill your time during the feast, today we’re tackling the famine side of the spectrum.

If you’re reading this article I imagine you fall under one of three categories:

  1. You’re currently experiencing a freelance famine
  2. You’ve been there, remember how terrible it was and want to be prepared for next time
  3. You’re a freelancer who has never experienced a famine (lucky you!) and want to be ready just in case

Regardless of why you’re here, the following information is sure to be helpful!

What is Freelance Famine?

If you’ve yet to experience a freelance writing famine in your business congratulations are certainly in order! And I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it will happen. I have yet to meet a writer that hasn’t experienced famine in one sense or another. In other words, it’s not a matter of if, but a matter of when.

For example, tomorrow, all my clients could email me saying, “Janine our budget has changed, and the article you submitted will be the last one for now. Thanks for working with us.” and BAM, there goes a chunk of my freelance income.

Welcome to a freelance famine.

My Recent Freelance Famine

I had an excellent client who had a fantastic income for me monthly and I submitted 3-4 articles a month to them. Then, with a 30-day notice, I was cut from the budget. Just like that.

What did I do you ask?

What I don’t recommend. I panicked. “It could take weeks or months to make up for this client,” I thought. Then, I took a deep breath and knew I had to get back in the game and work on my business and I hope the following tips I learned along the way are helpful to you in your own journey!

1. Pitch Away

Now that I lacked a client, it was time to pitch! The Healthcare Marketing Network helped me regain clients quickly because all my pitches were accepted! Never pitched before? You can take our free seven-day pitch course when you join the Healthcare Marketing Network!

2. Update your Website

Could your website use a revamp? There’s no better time than now! I didn’t revamp mine, but I did change my pricing structure and played with some new ideas to expand my services. It was during this time that I started to offer coaching and virtual assistance services and built two email lists, rather than one!

3. Find a Tribe

I found my tribe within the Healthcare Marketing Network, but you could find yours anywhere! Go ahead and branch out to find a tribe that supports you in your the work you do, as well as the freelance journey itself. In one of my original Thoughtful Thursdays in our Facebook community for writers, I chatted about finding even one person who does exactly what you are doing. You can help each other become accountable, and just like many things in life, it’s not about what you know, it’s about who you know!

4. Continue your Blog Postings

Keep up on your content calendar. The more traffic you drive to your site, the more potential clients you will have. This would also be the perfect time to take a look at your social media accounts to make sure they are optimized and tailored to your perfect client!

5. Never Stop Learning

Did you recently hear about a great book on freelance writing? Now’s the time to start reading it! If you’re a writer you’re likely an avid reader as well, but I have met writers that aren’t big on the reading side of things. If that’s you, try listening to audiobooks or podcasts during your commutes. If you have the time and resources why not invest in your business via an online course or local workshop? No matter how you decide to go about it, use this downtime wisely and your business will thank you!

The freelance famine is real, and it can make you feel like a failure because you are alone at your computer. You’re not alone though. At the Healthcare Marketing Network, we offer up a tribe of experienced freelancers to build you up! Whether you need tactical business advice, have questions about a client, or just need words of encouragement we’ve got you covered. We’re like one big, happy family and would love for you to pull up a chair at our roundtable!

 

Janine Kelbach, BSN, RNC-OB is a nurse entrepreneur with experience as a freelance writer, virtual assistant, and business coach. She helps solopreneurs/entrepreneurs with her proactive, diverse virtual assistant skills and keeps executives and business owners organized, prioritized, and less stressed.

5 Things Every Nurse Writer Needs to Know

5 Things Every Nurse Writer Needs to Know

As the need for high-quality, on demand nursing related content continues to increase, nurses have unlimited opportunity to become well-paid writers. Whether choosing to write articles that speak to a particular audience, or developing individualized content for hire, nurse writers are very much in demand.

Because nurses are able to speak to an audience in a way that others without our industry experience cannot, we are able to leverage our expertise in a way that helps to secure writing gigs and build a strong following. Even if you’re only interested in writing for fun, there are still a few things you’ll need to do in order to get your writing noticed.

Since you’ve read this far, I’d assume that you are interested in learning more! So without further adieu, here are 5 things that every nurse writer needs to know:

1. Build a Beautiful Website to Host your Work

When you are interested in learning about someone and the work they do, where do you go to find out more? If you said “their website” then you are just like everyone else! It has become an expectation for all businesses and freelance professionals to have a website that not only lists their products and services, but serves as a communication platform for their clients and readers as well. 

When you are building your website you want it to look professional, but don’t be afraid to show some of your personality too! Your website doesn’t have to be fancy. If you look at my services page, you will see that it is a simple page that clearly defines the services I provide. The most important thing is creating a website that clearly represents you and the work that you do.

2. Find Your Niche Audience and Write to Their Needs

Finding a niche audience and writing to their needs has been one of the most challenging things for me to accomplish. With all of my varying experiences, opinions, and worldly views, I found myself wanting to write about whatever popped into my head. For example, one article would be about reality shock and then the next would discuss hospital value-based purchasing. Although both topics are nursing related, they cater to two very different types of reader. The problem with writing this way is that it is difficult to gain a loyal following.

I have since figured out that my niche audience is nursing students and new grads. I provide them with what they need: study tips, coaching, mentoring and tutoring. By creating content that is specialized and focused on providing value for my niche audience, I have gained a larger, more loyal following.

3. Write on Topics You Love

There’s always that one writing assignment we agree to, and wind up hating – but that’s okay! What’s not okay is continuously accepting writing assignments that you’re not excited about. Let’s face it, if you can’t muster up some form of positive thinking on the topic, it shows in your work.

Readers have a keen ability to feel your presence, hear your tone, and read in between the lines. Trust me when I say that if you’re not passionate about the subject you’re writing about, they will know it. This will cause you to lose followers, as well as potential clients. So, the next time you are considering  a writing assignment that doesn’t get you pumped and ready to go, – DON’T! You and your readers will be glad that you decided to say no, thank you, and kept moving.

4. Network with Like-Minded Individuals

When I first started writing, I felt that it would be best to do all my research independently. This meant not sharing my ideas for content creation with others. For some silly reason, I was under the impression that if others learned of my ideas, that they would swoop in and steal it. I didn’t want someone taking my intellectual property and creating the amazing business I was set out to create! Well, I learned real quick that wasn’t the way to go. Not sharing my ideas with other like-minded individuals was a huge disservice to my professional growth.

In fact, it wasn’t until I started to share my ideas with other like-minded individuals, that I began making real progress. I learned of questions I never thought to ask. I learned of potential flaws, and learned how to identify many business opportunities. I learned how the sharing of my ideas could inspire, motivate and attract others who want to cheer, support and validate my work. It is with no doubt that seeking out other like-minded individuals and bouncing ideas around is easily one of the most valuable things I have ever done for my professional growth as a nurse writer.

5. Carefully Listen to Your Audience and Clients

The power of listening to your audience and client base can’t be stressed enough! The last thing you want is to create content that does not meet the expectations of your readers. Whether you’re writing for a group of eager nursing students or a prestigious nursing organization, make sure to listen carefully.

It’s also important to let clients voice their concerns openly and honestly. It may seem intuitive to reassure them, rather than letting them express themselves, but it isn’t good for either one of you. Trust me, I speak from experience. I’ve learned the hard way that it’s important to allow people to fully express their desires, hesitations, and needs before formulating a response. Not only does this method provide me with a better understanding of what they are asking of me, but it gives me the opportunity to form a comprehensive response as well. In the end, it winds up being a win-win situation!

I hope that you find these 5 things valuable to you and your writing journey, and don’t forget to be a gem and share this with others who may benefit from this advice!

 

Damion Jenkins is a nurse educator, mentor, tutor, blogger, content writer, and CEO of The Nurse Speak. He has been teaching nursing related courses for over six years, has more than 20 years of leadership and mentoring experience, and takes great pride in helping his students and clients meet their individualized needs!

https://www.healthcaremarketingnetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Why-Healthcare-Freelance-Go-Hand-in-Hand

Why Freelancing & Healthcare Go Hand-in-Hand

What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of the healthcare industry? Whatever your answer, one thing’s for certain; it’s not freelance writing. I hope to change that today!

How many times have you emptied the pockets of your scrubs or lab coat only to find what seems like endless amounts of scribble on post-its, notebook paper, receipts, or anything else you could get your hands on? How many times have you had a patient with a new disease process or medication that you needed to brush up on, so you do a quick search and jot down notes?

You enter your patient’s room or home and you educate him or her to the best of your ability. It leaves you with a sense of pride and accomplishment to know that you’ve given another human information that could possibly save his or her life. Like most healthcare professionals, freelancers love intertwining the art of patient care with education. We get a sense of fulfillment submitting articles to publications or clients knowing that our words will have a positive impact on the reader.

My Freelance Story

Like many freelancers in healthcare, I began freelancing as a way to make extra money. I was tired of working PRN jobs to supplement my income and I knew there had to be a better way and I’ve always loved to write. Even as a small child, I could sit for hours and just write. It wasn’t until I landed a job with a home health agency that I realized that I could use my passions for nursing and writing, simultaneously.

Home health nurses go into the patient’s homes and educate the patient and/or caregiver on various disease process, medication management, prevention methods, etc. I often found myself working with patients who had difficulty retaining the information that I was presenting. Spending thirty minutes once or twice weekly, really isn’t sufficient to teach a newly diagnosed diabetic everything he or she needs to know. Sure, the agency had tons of reading material, pamphlets, brochures, and booklets, but let’s be honest, how many patients were actually reading the material once I left the home? Some didn’t have the time, others weren’t interested, and for some it was just plain intimidating. So, I came up with a solution to my problem.

I began to research and use the material provided by the agency and condensed it into two or three pages, per each visit so I could effectively go over the material. My patients and their caregivers could look over it in a short amount of time, and it was written in a style that wasn’t intimidating. Eventually, I saw the fruit of my labor and I quickly became a fast teacher and more efficient nurse. It changed my life and it was one of the stepping stones to building my own business.

Turning Passion into a Business

Equipped with the knowledge that my writing could make a difference in the lives of others I decided to start my journey into entrepreneurship by blogging at Your Nurse Connection. Mainly, for my own therapeutic reasons, but I also realized it could help me educate vast numbers of people that I couldn’t reach on my own.  It wasn’t until someone sent me a Facebook message and asked for my price sheet, that I realized I had stumbled upon something grand. This led me to do what most of us do when we want to find answers; I googled it.  I typed “freelance nurse writers” into the search bar and was surprised to find that there was an actual market for this!

Looking back, I shouldn’t have been surprised. As a freelance writer, particularly in healthcare, you hold a unique and marketable skill. You have the eye of a writer and of a healthcare professional. This is immeasurable. You hold the power to aid in changing the healthcare continuum, which is currently packed to the brim with misinformation. Too many people, who have no formal training in healthcare or medicine are donning the title of “health coach” and shoveling out tons of inaccurate information. It is dangerous and we need more reputable, certified, licensed practitioners, in this industry. Imagine googling “hypertension management” and finding articles from a nurse, dietitian, or physician rather than someone who simply uploaded an article full of “wiki facts.”  As practitioners, who have taken on the responsibility of saving lives, we owe it to our communities to get them the most accurate, updated, cited information possible.

New Opportunities Await

Freelancing can also lead you to jobs outside of your normal niche. I’ve had the pleasure of ghostwriting for several entrepreneurs. I recently landed a role as a contributing writer with a brand targeting millennial thought-leaders. Writing articles about everything from entrepreneurship to career acceleration. The editor located me through an old blog post. It has been an exciting journey.

Healthcare and freelancing go hand-in-hand because it is already ingrained, in each of us.

We have the knowledge and skill set to educate. We have a responsibility to push out the inaccurate information, that so many of our patients are receiving. The internet is not going anywhere. It is our duty make sure that people have access to accurate information that will change lives.

 

How to Leverage Networking Events to Benefit Your Small Business

How to Leverage Networking Events to Benefit Your Small Business

Have you ever wondered how to land clients that can pay you what you’re worth? In short; the answer is networking, but let’s back up a bit before we dive in. If you’re new to writing, chances are you’ve heard more than your fair share of “starving writer” stories, but that doesn’t have to be the case! With the right marketing plan, you can easily attract companies who would love to hire you (and have the budget to do so).

Think of marketing as simply showing up and offering solutions to people who have a problem that you solve. If that definition of marketing resonates well with you, please take the time to read Book Yourself Solid by Michael Port. While I am a fan of using social media for marketing (aka offering solutions), the truth is that my largest contracts come from in-person networking opportunities.

That’s why I’m here today; to teach you how to leverage networking events.

Where to Start

As a health care professional, we tend to over complicate things. You may not want to start until the perfect conditions magically align, but trust me; there’s no such thing as perfect. Start where you are. You can start by using Eventbrite, Meetup.com, or even your community newspaper to look for local in person networking events geared towards your target audience. Reach out to the event planner and ask if they have a need for a presenter. Be prepared to tell them how you can serve their audience. To make the most of your efforts, have a way to track your reach outs to the planners and if you do not hear a reply in a weeks time, remember to follow up. I try to follow up at least twice.

After Getting Booked

Once you get booked for your speaking opportunity, your work has just begun. Your presentation should have a call to action that includes an invitation for the audience to sign up for your compelling offer. I’d also encourage you to design a simple downloadable freebie that supports your topic. You may also wish to have a clipboard with sign up sheet that is clearly marked with why your attendee’s should sign up for your e-mail list. Related, I suggest having a value rich e-mail follow up sequence ready to go designed for your specific audience. The the goal is to make the most of your valuable time while networking. I would block a few hours out after your event. I also block time for “coffee chats”, so I can set up meetings with people while still at the event.

After the Presentation

During your time that was blocked for post event work, take out your new contacts. Enter these into your Contact Relationship Management (CRM) System. This system can be as simple as an excel spreadsheet, but having a system to track your contacts is super important. Be sure to enter these contacts into your email follow-up system and set up a time to make phone calls if this there was a lead of particular interest.

While this may seem like a lot of work for a local presentation, the truth is that not many will put in this much work. Use this fact to your benefit! Showing this type of consideration for your audience will be easily remembered. By increasing the number of exposures to your expertise, you will easily stand out to your audience as a valuable resource.

By following these exact steps, I recently sent out an invoice that was almost double my monthly nursing salary. By keeping in touch with my group attendees, one thought of me when someone in her circle had a need. When she heard of this need, she thought of me, found one of my many emails, and reached out to me. This was not the first time business has resulted from my keeping in touch with people after our initial meeting.

In the business world, this process is called business development. There are teams of people who are sent out to networking events with the goal of making new contacts and developing quality relationships. As a small business owner, we are a business development team of one. A virtual assistant can help with many parts of this process and can allow you  more time to follow up with potential clients. They may even help with the follow up reach outs and setting appointments for you via email or phone.

I hope you found some of this information helpful to you and your business! We would love to hear about your “keep in touch” system!

 

Amelia Roberts is an experienced writer and owner of Solutions by Amelia. Be sure to connect with her on social media for more great business advice!

 

 

 

How Starting a Vlog Made Me a Better Writer

Every nurse is a writer, we just don’t know it.

Maybe I should change that statement to, every nurse is a ‘charter,’ we just don’t know it?

*Insert massive eye-roll from the audience*

Every nurse knows about charting. “If it wasn’t charted, it didn’t happen” is a mantra we learn early in nursing school. Our words and thoughts are expressed to document events that unfold. We learn how to describe an event, situation or scenario succinctly so that the next nurse can pick up where we left off.  This is why every nurse is a writer.

My Intro to Writing

My name is Sean.  I’m an “O.G.” diploma-trained nurse turned Acute Care Nurse Practitioner, and I’m a writer.

About ten years ago during the pre-Facebook and pre-Twitter era, I was a new nurse who was baffled by all the crazy things I was experiencing. Every day I would come home from my shift and say, “Well, they didn’t teach THAT in nursing school!” It was both comical and frustrating. I felt so unprepared and alone. So I did the only logical thing; I took to the internet. I discovered this thing called ‘blogging’ (it was new at the time) and I fell in love with it. I found an outlet to share my stories with other like-minded individuals that ‘got me.’ I started a small lil’ blog sharing my stories, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Ten years later I’m still blogging, and I still love to tell my stories. It’s the best way I know how to pass on knowledge and teach the next generation of nurses. Storytelling is embedded into our nursing culture; it’s how we assimilate into a new environment (or job). Remember the last new job you had? How did you learn about your new colleagues? We share front-line experiences on how we learned a task or a skill as a way to break the ice when meeting new nurses. I mean c’mon, Everyone has their first foley catheter experience, don’t they?

How Vlogging Helped

Through a series of events with a former employer (as a blogger), I was introduced to the world of video blogging. It wasn’t something that came easily to me because I was used to typing instead of recording. However, I quickly realized it was something I enjoyed. Not only did it delivere an element of emotion that cannot be expressed with just words, but it also helped my creativity and content creation.

Vlogging (video blogging) allowed more freedom of expression, but it also forced me to think about my audience during the entire creation process because I’m on camera. I had to talk ‘to’ my audience not just write ‘about’ a topic. Stepping outside of my comfort zone by getting in front of a camera helped me become a better writer by requiring me to (literally) have a conversation with my readers.

Vlogging is more popular now than ever thanks to the popularity of live streaming video (thank you Facebook). With live video you can talk to your audience in real-time about current events. Every nurse remembers the Utah Nurse Assault.  

In 2016 I posted a video (vlog) every day for a full year. Yes, I posted 365 videos consecutively. It started out as an experiment and turned into an exciting endeavor. I got to share my stories, but I also discovered I could reach more people. As in 1 million new people.  

It was an amazing learning experience as a creator. I not only had to create content, but had to become proficient at it as well. This meant I needed to sharpen my time management skills. How long does it take you to create a video or traditional blog? Now think about doing that every single day for a full calendar year. Yeah, I learned to streamline a lot of tasks. (I share some of them with the Healthcare Marketing Network → HERE.)

What I’ve Learned

I learned a lot since that first vlog many years ago. And if I had to offer any advice for someone interested in starting a vlog, it would be to just press record. Don’t get bogged down in the trivial details. It’s so easy to get paralyzed by perfection, but don’t give in. Just record. Forget about the equipment, the lighting, the sound, the editing software or the platform. Just get your creation out there for the world to enjoy. An unpolished and scrappy ‘something’ is better than an unpublished and unknown perfect nothing. The rest you can figure out later.  

Have you ever tried vlogging? If not, would you like to? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

 

Sean Dent is a diploma-trained nurse turned Acute Care Nurse Practitioner. He began blogging 10 years ago and still continues to share his experiences through writing.

What no one tells you about working from home (with a baby)

What No One Tells You About Working from Home (With a Baby)

“I need a job where I can work from home.”

“We need a second income to make ends work.”

“How can I stay home with my baby and make more money?”

I see these comments all the time on Facebook mommy groups and my heart goes out to these mothers. As a work-at-home mom, I completely understand the desire to be home with your baby and needing a supplemental income. It’s why I do what I do.

But unsurprisingly, there were things no one told me before I took the plunge and started working from home.

Flexible Hours Can Be Dangerous

When I talk to people about my work, they often respond, “Wow. It must be nice to have such a flexible schedule!”

Yes, it is. As long as my work is done, and done well, my clients don’t care if I work seven hours one day because the baby is in a great mood and took all her naps, and only work one hour the next day because she’s teething and screamed from morning till night.

However, unless you are really great with boundaries, flexible hours can mean working when you should be off-duty, and convincing yourself to never really take time off because you can always “make it up” later by working more another time. It also means that clients get used to receiving your emails at all hours of the night, and may think you’re always available (when you’re really just responding at 3 a.m. because the baby is awake).  

Forget The To Do List

I’m a type-A, check-off-the-list kind of girl. I worked from home for a year before having my daughter, and the experience is like night and day.

Pre-baby, the only interruptions to my work day were those I allowed in: Facebook, afternoon coffee time and binge-watching Gilmore Girls. Now? I might have a nicely structured list of five projects to complete, but by the end of the day I might have only completed half of a single task.

Some days, just keeping the baby alive is an accomplishment. I’ve learned to ask for reasonable deadlines that leave me lots of wiggle room, and to never say, “Oh, I’ll get it done tomorrow” if I have time today. Tomorrow could be a disaster, so I can’t procrastinate.

The Loneliness Is Real

Right now, I work between 15 and 20 hours per week. In many ways, working part-time from home gives me the best of both worlds. I get to stay at home with my daughter and don’t have to pay for childcare, but I still get to enjoy the extra income (and mental stimulation!) that having a job brings.

However, it certainly brings its own challenges. Moms who work outside the home typically have co-workers to talk to throughout the work week. They enjoy adult conversations and corporate friendships. Stay-at-home moms who aren’t working part-time are able to make friends through playdates and mommy-and-me-classes.

If I didn’t work, I’d have 15-20 hours per week to dedicate to making friends and planning activities with my daughter. Instead, when I’m not working, I’m trying to spend quality time with the baby and tend to chores. This makes it hard to carve out time during my week to strengthen friendships even though I know I ought to.

It’s Completely Worth It (And Totally Possible)

Flexible hours are a minefield, it’s almost impossible to plan accurately and yes, it does get lonely. Despite these downsides, working from my big comfy chair instead of an office is perfect for me right now.

I’m right here for all my daughter’s “firsts.” I’m not worrying about whether daycare is giving her enough tummy time and I don’t have to pump during my breaks.

Although I sometimes find myself sifting through emails long after 5 P.M., I love being able to take time off when I need to (or want to). Like after a night of really bad sleep or during a beautiful day when I’d like to go for a walk.

And even though I don’t have enough unscheduled time to do lots of out-of-the-home activities, the financial security that comes with my paycheck helps calm my anxieties. You know the ones – paying off debt, saving for a down payment on a home and – yikes – helping my daughter go to college.

Some people will react negatively when you decide to work from home, but don’t let that discourage you. I heard a lot of negative comments when I started, but I’m here to say that despite the challenges, there are great rewards. It might just be the best thing you’ve ever done for yourself and your family.

Are you are work-at-home mom? What are some things no one ever told you?

 

Natalie works from home as a freelance writer, blogger, virtual assistant and social media manager for small businesses. See some of her latest work at Nursing Shoe Heaven.

Full-Time to Freelance_ 8 Steps to a Smoother Transition

Full-Time to Freelance: 8 Steps to a Smoother Transition

I recently closed the books on my first quarter as a full-time healthcare communications free agent. I’d been fantasizing about going out on my own for years, and then I received a much-needed kick in the pants in the form of getting downsized from my six-figure corporate communications job.

Talk about getting thrown in the deep end fully clothed!

Luckily, I had already taken a few steps toward making the break, so my entry into this new professional phase wasn’t as rocky as it could’ve been. My business is still in its infancy, but I do have some tips to help you transition from a full-time salaried position to the ebbs and flows of freelance work!

1. Stash the Cash

Work can be unsteady, and there’s always a lag between the time you submit your invoice to your client and when the check appears in your mailbox. If possible, sock away two to three months of income to provide a monetary safety net while your business ramps up and income becomes steadier.

2. Put the WORK in Network

Who knows your work better than your former colleagues? Whether you’ve been a nurse for 20 years or a corporate marketer for five, you’ve probably been building your professional network on LinkedIn. Ask contacts for recommendations or leads for freelance opportunities. I sent a message to about 40 contacts to let them know that I was no longer in my previous role and that I’d launched my own business. I got five leads instantly, and quite a few provided recommendations or other words of encouragement. Leverage your network to accelerate your business’s growth – and save time and money on client acquisition.

3. Write

Even if you don’t have a paying gig at the moment, keep writing. Start your own blog, write a guest post for another blog or publish posts on LinkedIn. Get your name out there anyway that you can. Be personal in your approach, and share what you’ve learned in your professional journey. Start telling your story, and soon you’ll be equipped to tell someone else’s.

4. Front Load your Week

It’s Monday, and your nearest deadline isn’t until Friday. Time to grab coffee and watch Rachael Ray, right? As strong as that siren song is, you’ve got to prioritize.

Do the work when you’ve got the work, because who knows if you’re going to get a call tomorrow from a client with a big project, and you need to be able to accommodate work that may come your way. Knock out as much as you can on Monday and Tuesday, then use the rest of the week to pitch new clients, write posts for your blog, beef up your social media platforms or get invoices in the mail. And if a call or email comes in, you’ve got the bandwidth to tackle another paying gig that week. And speaking of paying gigs…

5. Invoice Instantly

Every day that you’re not sending out an invoice is a day you’re not getting paid. I now send the invoice with the assignment. In sales, the mantra is ABC: Always Be Closing. While not as catchy, in freelance work, it’s ABI: Always Be Invoicing.

6. Bundle Up

When accepting a single assignment, try to turn it into a more sustainable engagement. Just one blog post? Offer to turn it into a series or bundle it with a package of social media posts. And, don’t be afraid to offer a discount if it makes sense.

7. Don’t Forget Stats and Strategy

Some projects are straightforward; the client wants X and you can deliver X. But for those projects that are more complex, use your proposal to showcase your results and unique experience. If you’re proposing a content strategy, explain the reason for the strategy and any results that you’ve gotten when you’ve taken a similar approach. Strong writing is important, but it’s meaningless without a solid content marketing strategy to get your words in front of your client’s readers. Explain the “why” and “how,” too, not just the “what”.

8. Create a Portfolio

Whether you use a full website, a WordPress page, a Pinterest board page or another type of online portfolio, start developing a digital repository of your clips now. Not only can it help with SEO, but it also provides potential clients with a taste of your writing style and illustrates your experience in the field. Here’s mine if you’d like a reference.

[bctt tweet=”Follow these 8 tips to make your transition from full-time to freelance as smooth as possible! #freelancelife #careeradvancement” username=””]

My business is the ultimate WIP, but I am encouraged and energized by the work that’s come my way and I’m committed to seeking out opportunities that allow me to grow both professionally and personally.

Do you have any tips to share? I’d love to hear them!

 

Chronicles of a Nurse Writer - When are You Going to Get a Real Job

Chronicles of a Nurse Writer: When Are You Going to Get a Real Job?

I was ecstatic when I accepted my first nursing job at the state psychiatric hospital. I considered pursuing psychology during college, but instead chose nursing. Therefore, being able to work in mental health nursing felt like the best of both worlds. That is, until I told the other nurses I worked with in women’s health about my new job. Instead of sharing in my elation, several responded with, “That’s fine, until you can get a real nursing job.” I heard this expression multiple times over the years and sadly; it was often from other nurses.

I’m a writer who became a nurse. Then I went full circle and became a nurse who writes. Yet, in many of my nursing positions I’ve been asked about my real nursing job, when in reality, I’ve always had one. The ability to support those suffering from mental illness as they struggled to attain better mental health wellness provided great rewards as well as personal and professional satisfaction. These rewards could almost be comparable to a nurse helping someone heal from physical wounds.

Where’s Your Stethoscope?

We all have our talents. Just because a nurse spends more time talking with a client, providing education, writing, or working with healthcare policy and procedures rather than providing hands-on care, it doesn’t mean they aren’t practicing nursing.

I’ve worked with a lot of psychiatric nurses and just like any other nursing specialty; some are better at it than others. Psychiatric nursing is challenging, and many claim they’d never want to work in this specialty. I can understand, because there are many specialties I wouldn’t enjoy, but they all provide an essential contribution to the nursing field. Luckily for me, I can research and learn more about these specialties by reviewing articles written by those who enjoy that area of expertise.

Don’t Nurses Wear Scrubs?

I chose to pursue a Master of Science (MSN) in nursing administration because I wanted to help improve the morale of nurses and make nursing work environments better. But when I began working in nursing administration, I continued to carry the stigma of not being a real nurse. Many are surprised to discover I’m a nurse since I don’t wear scrubs, and I sit behind a desk. It seemed that nursing administration was even further distanced than psychiatric nursing since I no longer practice direct patient care.

What Is a Nurse, Really?

Often I feel as if I still practice in psychiatric nursing, whether it’s within my job in administration, when writing, or providing education. These skills are essential when counseling an employee, talking to a patient’s family, or performing an interview. It’s almost as if I’ve never left the floor. I might sit behind a desk and work in administration, or write healthcare articles, but the essential communication skills from psychiatric and mental health nursing remain intact.

Isn’t Writing Just a Hobby?

I started writing as a hobby, and then morphed into fiction writing. From there I discovered freelance writing. It almost felt frivolous not to utilize my degrees and years of nursing experience. Initially the freelance communities I found weren’t healthcare writers—I didn’t even know those existed. When I discovered I could combine my nursing experience and education with my love of writing to work in freelance healthcare writing, it was a way to embrace all of my skills and feel complete.

Applying Nursing Skills to Writing

Part of my personal mission as a freelance writer is to educate family and friends in my small community that such a thing exists, and that freelance is a skill which doesn’t mean free. That writing is a talent, and healthcare writers are skilled with the knowledge they’ve gleaned from their education and experience, such as:

  • How communication skills honed in psychiatric nursing (or other specialty skills) are used for gathering data through interviewing, or to convey a message, or information, through writing.
  • How healthcare writing enables years of experience to be shared in a clear way to educate others, and provide helpful tips and education.
  • That a quality article usually requires research to ensure that material is pertinent.

So You Aren’t A Nurse Anymore?

Discovering a health care community like the Healthcare Marketing Network that supports this endeavor helped me no longer be bothered by confused looks when I tell people I’m also a healthcare freelance writer. Nor do I flinch when some say, “A writer? So you aren’t a nurse anymore?”  I might point out that someone had to write the article they found online to learn more about their newest medication, treatment or other healthcare related topic. Then perhaps I might mention that if that information is helpful and thorough, that a nurse just might have written it.

 

Fa la la la Freelance_ 4 Reasons I Love Holidays as a Freelancer

Fa-La-La-La Freelance: 4 Reasons I Love Holidays as a Freelancer

The holidays are such a joyous time of the year for so many reasons! However, being burdened by a lack of control in the time department can put a serious damper on things. This is something I know all too well.

A microwavable turkey dinner, large coffee, and lots of tears. That was my Thanksgiving dinner on my first holiday working as a nurse. The reality of this new adult life hit me hard. I had gone from a glorious, responsibility-free college student to a night shift nurse at the bottom of the totem pole, working weekends and holidays.

It was time to accept the fact that I’d be missing my fair share of family events, I wouldn’t be out with my friends on New Year’s Eve, and I might even miss Christmas morning when I became a mom. It was circumstances like these that made me want more.

More freedom. More flexibility. More time. This is where my freelancing journey started and I’m incredibly grateful for said journey! Don’t get me wrong, the freelance life isn’t for everyone; it certainly comes with its own set of challenges. But there’s just no trade-off for the type of freedom you’re allotted when you work for yourself.

One of the greatest times to relish in the freelance life is the holidays, so I’d like to share with you the top reasons I’m so happy to be a freelancer this time of year!

No More Permission

As I covered above, freelancing equals freedom. There is no need to request off for your holiday break in July or try to switch holidays with a coworker because you are in total control over your work. And while that responsibility is intense, it helps to remember that it’s worth it.

Even if you have a busy workload, take advantage of this freedom. Schedule a midday massage or meet a friend for a weekday lunch. Spend a little time thanking yourself for all your hard work over the past year!

Flex Down

Because you have control over your workload and schedule, you have the freedom to take time off during the holidays. I love being able to take extended time off at the end of the year. When our daughter was a baby, I was working full time and out of vacation time due to maternity leave, but I still took almost two weeks off to be with her around Christmas.

Make a list of all of the fun holiday activities you love, but rarely have time for. Put them on the calendar, then schedule work around your personal and family time. You’ve worked hard to be your own boss, so be kind to yourself! Take time to go see Christmas lights, wrap gifts, send cards, and meet up with friends.

Flex Up

Maybe you prefer to take on more work during the holidays? The costs of presents and hosting can add up quickly, so having a little financial padding is a huge stress reliever. Fortunately for you, many of your freelancer colleagues are taking time off, so pitch away! You’ll have less competition, so go ahead and fill your client load to the max for the next few months.

If you find yourself working more during this time due to sheer necessity, don’t beat yourself up. Make a plan starting in January to set aside a little extra each month to be able to pay yourself vacation time in December 2018. Learning lessons the hard way is a big part of any entrepreneur’s journey!

Reflection

As a freelancer, your brain has a tendency to stay in overdrive. You have to pitch yourself, do the work, follow-up with clients, and figure out your budget. Doing it all makes it easy to get sucked into the day-to-day busy work and forget to take a step back to look at your entire business, but the holidays are a perfect time to reflect!

Make a list of all of your accomplishments, big or small. Did you land that big client, pay off your student loans, or cut back at your day job? It’s common to to hit your goals, then immediately move on, but you deserve more, so take this time to soak it all in.

Next, look at what didn’t go so well. What changes do you want to make in 2018? How would you like to grow? Perhaps you know that you no longer want to do social media for clients or you want to become more specialized. Don’t dwell on what didn’t go well; just chalk it up to experience and move on. Taking some reflection time will give you invaluable clarity as you move forward.

I could list plenty more things I love about the freelance life, but we wouldn’t have time to cover them all! What do you love about working for yourself? If you don’t work for yourself, but would like to, is there something about this time of year that motivates you to make the change? Share in the comments below!

And to all my freelancing friends out there – please take time to enjoy this wonderful time of the year! You’ve earned it!

 

Hired a Coach, Gained a Community (2)

Hired a Coach, Gained a Community

Community. It’s commonly used to describe where we live, a feeling, or a sense of belonging. This feeling can be based on common attitudes, interests, beliefs or goals, but it isn’t always what you think it will be.

Sometimes it’s better.

A Business Coach Changes Everything

I wasn’t searching for a community when I happened to stumble upon my now beloved business coach, but I certainly found one when she led me to the Healthcare Marketing Network.  

After  writing for a content mill for a few months I had gained experience and built up my portfolio, but it was clear that something was missing.  I needed vision. I acquired said vision as I was searching for business coaches late one night and came across an article about top nursing blogs that Janine Kelbach (my soon to be business coach!) was mentioned in. I emailed her that night, she got back to me the next morning, and just like that the future of my business was forever changed. We started with a short 45 minute meeting and before I knew it, she had given me more than just a few business tips; she’d given me a community full of like-minded entrepreneurs with a thirst for growth and a strong desire to lift one another up.  

Janine, also known as WriteRN, recently told me that her goal when working with new clients is to help them create business goals and a vision for their future. She said that steering new writers towards the Healthcare Marketing Network has been invaluable.

She said, “New writers need accountability, and that can be found through the community at the Healthcare Marketing Network. Writing can be a lonely business, so having others who are willing to help with brainstorming, pitches and keeping us on  track with our goals is very important.

It amazed me that after one coaching session Janine knew exactly what I needed; a community! She told me how to find The Healthcare Marketing Networks website, as well as their gated Facebook Group filled to the brim with people just like me.  

Shortly after ending our first session, I looked up this Healthcare Marketing Network group on Facebook to see what it was all about, and what I found left me nothing shy of exhilarated. Not only did I see a community, but a  successful one full of healthcare writers! I also found great videos with tips and tricks of the trade, helpful articles tailored to writers, other members getting their business questions answered, and everyone enjoying one another’s company. And if that wasn’t enough to have me in awe, what came next was.

Out of the blue, I received a Facebook message from Carol Bush simply stating she thinks she could get me a gig. Being a nurse, I was shocked. Many times in nursing, the common theme is that we eat our young, not that we build one another up. Where was I, Kansas? Nope, but Carol was! After our encouraging exchange via Facebook Messenger we decided to meet.

I now know why she lives in Kansas! She’s like a small, mighty twister all unto herself. She was dynamic, excited, and offered up a wealth of knowledge. She shared pointers with me as well as ideas for several gigs. By the time the phone call ended, I had 3 potential leads and we were planning to meet again. I was still blown away and kept wondering how this small community would continue to touch my journey.

Community Matters

A few days passed and a familiar name showed up in the Facebook Group. Ashley Hay, a fellow writer. I had seen Ashley’s work and her story on another site I frequented. Even though I had never actually spoken to her, I started to feel a sense of belonging again. I was seeing a common theme of people in my writing life. I did get to connect with Ashley and she has experienced a similar journey to mine. She shared with me that the Healthcare Marketing Network has helped her in many ways along her journey, and the message of community was alive and well as we talked. She described that through the Healthcare Marketing Network she has found the “value in connection.” She stated that she often sits down in the evening and goes through the videos on the Facebook page just to continue to grow and learn as a writer. She has been able to connect with clients through the networks Gig Board, as well as build upon her own community. She also feels that accountability is a huge bonus of being a member and has really enjoyed the friendships she has built along the way.

The missing piece in my foundation of community was to meet Janet Kennedy, the other founding member of the Healthcare Marketing Network. She shared her journey of meeting Carol through a Twitter chat and out of that a collaborative friendship with a vision was born. I told Janet my story and she quickly replied that stories such as mine and others are “everyday validation” that the Healthcare Marketing Network is needed by clients and writers alike. She described the network as the missing link to the connection between writers and clients that she’s glad they’ve been able to provide.

Enjoy the Journey

My journey leads me to one of my favorite quotes by Helen Keller, “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much”. I no longer feel alone in my journey as a healthcare writer and I am thankful that late one night I hired a coach, and gained a community.

If you’re a healthcare writer looking for a community to lift you up, help you get gigs, and push you to be better, click below to join The Healthcare Marketing Network today!