Posts

Patty Weasler BSN, RN, CCRN

The 3 Most Important Things I Learned My First Year as a Freelance Health Writer

If you’re like me, the first year of freelance writing is full of ups and downs. In my first year, I made money, gained clients, lost clients and learned more than I had ever bargained for!

At the beginning of my writing career, I had a hard time focusing on the core issues to develop my business. I found that I was spending too much time on tasks that weren’t vital to my success and not enough time on the things that were.

I’m here to tell you the three most important things I learned in my first year as a freelance writer, so you don’t have to make the same mistakes I did!

3 Lessons The First Year of Freelancing

1. Find a Mentor

When I started freelancing I had so many questions. What’s a pitch? How do I even write a pitch? How much should I charge? I quickly realized that I needed help.

Internet searching wasn’t cutting it. I needed help from an experienced freelancer, someone that I could ask questions of and get guidance from. That’s when my friend and now writing coach, took me under her wing and guided me every step of the way.  

With a writing coach or mentor, I knew that I was getting accurate information from an expert.

I could have searched the internet to find bits and pieces of the information I needed. However, having someone who has already gone through the process helped to develop my business with my goals in mind.

It’s hard to ask for help, and it’s even harder to pay for help. I get it. But in the long run, I learned the information faster, more accurately and had more fun doing it!

2. Be Persistent

My first year as a freelance writer I knew that it would take work but I never could’ve dreamt how much work. I wanted to give up. Editors weren’t accepting my pitches, writing boards weren’t showing any great leads. I was stuck.

Yet, I kept at it. I kept pitching, writing and blogging. It took time and a whole lot of persistence but one day I received an email from an editor. A company actually wanted ME to write for them.

Whenever I felt like my business wasn’t progressing, I had to keep moving. I suggest joining a writing group with people in your writing niche. It’s a great way to both network and learn from other people’s experiences.

Another tactic to keep myself moving forward was to stay accountable to something or someone. I like to have a writing schedule with blocks of time devoted to work. You might find having a friend or coach keeping you on track works. Find something that works for you and stick with it. Progress will happen!

3. Just Do It

Nike knows what they’re talking about. When it comes to writing, Just Do It!

My first year, I was nervous and hesitant. I didn’t want to make mistakes. I let fear slow me down. I questioned every move I made. Once I let go of the fear I started writing. I gained the confidence to develop a website and write blog posts, articles and so much more!

If you’re having a hard time making the first move like I was, try not to overthink it. Start writing blog posts or journal privately to get the creative juices flowing. Just the act of writing will spur new ideas and give you the motivation to move on to bigger and better projects.

Take my advice: find a mentor, stay persistent and just do it. After a year of ups and downs, these three lessons always held true to my freelance writing wins.  

– Patty weasler, RN, CCRN Freelance Writer

Another tip to get started is to write what you know. It’s so much easier to jump into freelance writing when you’re writing about things you know well. I’m a nurse and mom, so it’s easy to write about health and parenting topics. If you love gardening or photography you’ll find writing about those topics comes naturally.

The saying, “nothing worth having comes easy” is a phrase that I repeat to myself when I’m in doubt or struggling.

That first year of freelancing can be tough! How are you going to make it through your first year? Take my advice: find a mentor, stay persistent and just do it. After a year of ups and downs, these three lessons always held true to my freelance writing wins.  

 

 

 

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!

 

How Can a Freelance Writing Coach Help?

I’ve been a nurse for many years, a fiction author for a handful of them, and a writer all my life. After years of writing fiction, branching into non-fiction freelance writing seemed like a natural progression. With a goal of being able to efficiently, and effectively, write both fiction and freelance, I didn’t want to waste time with futile efforts that would only create more work for myself. But since I was already established with a website and on social media as a fiction author surely adding freelance writing would be easy, right? Right?

Easier Said Than Done

Although freelance and fiction writing share many similarities and a writer can benefit from the knowledge gained in either, there are also many differences. Balancing these two halves into a perfect whole can be a challenge and often combine like oil and water. I needed someone experienced who could take a look at my online presence from the outside. If only there was an expert who could give my hand a little squeeze of much needed reassurance.

Fortunately for my sanity, and me, I met Janine in the Healthcare Writers Network Facebook group and she was killing it as a nurse freelance writer. I was even luckier to win a coaching call with her through her company WriteRN.

Why Janine?

If you’re going to work closely with someone and share your insecurities and doubts, you want someone who is personable, friendly, your personal cheerleader and human(I.e.: Someone who can share reasonable and realistic methods to achieve goals. Because as much as I love to write about magic, so far I’ve not found it in the real world.) Janine is all of these things and more!

You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know

Before our coaching call, I prepared questions about areas in freelance writing that required me to venture into new, unfamiliar territory, or terrain I’d let grow stagnant over the years. Sure I could do all of these things on my own, but was I doing it right to achieve the effect that I desired? Otherwise I was only wasting my time.

  • LinkedIn: Did I set up my page correctly to sound knowledgeable and professional?
  • Networking: How important is networking and where are the best places and methods for doing so?
  • Marketing: Where can I find clients for my niche and how do I sell them a winning pitch?
  • My Freelance Website: Does my new freelance website look sleek and professional and what tools and pages do I need to protect and grow my business?

You Might Know More Than You Think You Know

My venture into freelance writing had me spread in a multitude of directions trying to figure out how and what to start and when to stop. Talking with Janine helped me uncover clarity in my goals.

  • Confidence: Janine’s professional opinion ensured me where I was working in the right direction. That little virtual hand squeeze, or pat on the shoulder gave me additional confidence to proceed with plans I’d made.
  • Guidance and Advice: Her experience helped guide me where I should focus more attention to succeed in freelancing and other places that I didn’t need to worry about, thus saving me precious time.
  • Reassurance: Our coaching call enabled Janine to share more of her story about her success, and following along with her newsletter provided me with a role model.

Saving Time and My Sanity

There’s nothing I hate more than wasting time or money. Working with Janine enabled me to stop flitting away hours wondering what else I needed to do, and if I was doing it right when it came to freelance writing. Instead I have Janine’s coaching tips and tricks to fall back upon when I ponder the next steps in my freelance journey. Janine’s freelance path both inspires and reassures me that my efforts are worthwhile—and immense success is possible.

Thanks so much for reading and be sure to check out my new freelance website, Charmed Type. I’ve also published in paranormal romance and fantasy genres. Find out more about my novels on my website!

 

6 Tips To Success When Working For Past Employers

Lisa commented: I’m hoping I can pick someone’s brain. I work in home health and recently me former employer contacted me about updating the content on their website. She is open to looking at a contract for future services. Any suggestions on what should be included or things I should consider?

 

Lisa, thanks so much for your question! This has actually happened to me as well and I will walk you through exactly how I handled it!

 

1.  Thank her

Always, especially in this type of situation, thank the person for thinking of you. No matter the outcome, always thank her now, and in the end. A thank you goes a long way! I learned this back in my nursing aide days. I loved when people noticed or thanked me for my efforts, so nowadays I thank every single person I work with from the tray passer to my director!

2.  Schedule a time to meet

If you’re able to meet with her face to face, do it. Show up dressed like you’re going on a job interview, and try not to talk about your personal life or the previous job. Take on as much as you can to start and build upon it. I always say, never say no to a job because you never know where it could lead you!

3.  Get your portfolio together

If you don’t have a portfolio together, now’s the time to do it! I used Contently.com for my online portfolio, but I always include another type of printed article that I have had published (usually a few so they see what kind of work I do). Once it looks great give it to her to keep. Don’t just let her look at it and give it back because if it’s hers to keep she’ll likely file it somewhere for future work.

4.  Come with ideas

If you know what she wants for the website, come up with a few ideas. Show her how creative you can be! If you’re not really sure what she needs, try to think on your toes and give her great insight she can’t say no to!

5.  Rates

Oh gosh, the negotiation. I have grown slightly more comfortable with it over the years. It feels like confrontation to me, which I am not a fan of, but it doesn’t have to be as hard as we make it. Figure out your rates and what you won’t write for. Make sure you give yourself some wiggle room. She is most likely going to ask “how much do you charge?” Respond with confidence, and you will be surprised what she will say.

6.  Ask to be part of their meetings

If their website is looking for content to keep patients educated, or a blog to attract more patients, you can be an immense help to them. This can also work well for you because you’ll be able to have a retainer client, right in your own area! Ask to be a part of their website meetings in order to grasp exactly what they’re looking for, as well as what you can bring to the table!

 

Good luck in your adventure with this client, Lisa. Please keep us posted, I am very excited for you!

 

Are you a business owner, freelancer, or creative?
Become a member of The Healthcare Marketing Network today!

 

Pitchfest Winners Round-Up (allnurses)!

A few months back, our friends at allnurses sponsored a Healthcare Writers Network Pitchfest and we’re happy to say they chose 6 great pitches from our community of talented writers!

Today we want to share those articles with you and invite you to connect with the great writers behind them!

So, without further ado, in no particular order, here are the 6 winning articles:

 

1. Connecting to Your Focus in Times of Uncertainty by Anne Llewellyn

Nurses are frustrated and leaving the profession at record rates. Maintaining your focus as to why you entered the profession is critical as it will allow you to be successful in your career. In this article, I share tips that will help you be successful during disruptive times…

2. How My Experience As A Teen Mom Shaped My Passion for Obstetrical Nursing by Jessica Rockowitz

As an OB/GYN RN and Health Educator for a low-income clinic in downtown Philadelphia, my passion has always been to serve the underserved. What my patients didn’t realize was how my own experiences as a teenage parent had shaped me into the clinician that I became…

3. Raising the Next Generation of Nurses by Sarah Matacale

As a Mom who has been a nurse in various fields as well as in the stay-at-home arena, I feel a tremendous responsibility to raise my children to contribute and change the world. I have identified many attributes in my daughter that I believe are going to lead to a career in nursing, in some way. I want to foster that sparkle I see in her soul. I want to raise a confident, strong-minded, caring, compassionate critical thinker that may become part our next generation of nurses. How do we do that?…

4. Because Living Is So Much More Than Surviving by Alene Nitzky

Despite advances in cancer treatment that have led to higher rates of survival after treatment, the medical approach has continued to treat a patient with a disease, and though the disease often goes into remission, a patient remains. Helping cancer survivors restore their quality of life after treatment requires skill and a level of expertise that encompasses empathy, a focus on their quality of life, and is holistic in its approach. Nurses are the ideal professionals to lead this change…

5. Nurses: The Unsung Heroes by Andrea Suzane

Nurses save lives too… Personal experiences at the bedside that have helped me in my transition from novice nurse to seasoned patient advocate throughout my career. Priceless experiences outlined from helping new graduate nurses gain valued experience and confidence to getting a patient transferred to a major university medical center for life-saving treatments…

6. From NCLEX Failure to Confident Nurse by Carrie Madormo

When I failed the NCLEX, I thought my nursing career was over before it started. Fortunately, this failure was a gift that taught me five important lessons.

 

There you have them; the 6 very deserving winners of the allnurses Pitchfest!

Once you’ve had a chance to read these downright amazing articles please feel free to reach out to the writers and congratulate them for a job well done!

Encouragement and community are key in the world of freelancing…so go ahead and hit that click-to-tweet above!!

Would you like to sponsor a #Pitchfest within the Healthcare Marketing Network?  It’s a fun way to support healthcare freelancers AND fill your content queue at the same time!  Contact Janet: janet@healthcaremarketingnetwork.com to learn more!