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.  

 

 

 

Maureen Bonatch MSN, BSN, RN

3 Reasons Why You Need to Hire a Ghostwriter

Content marketing has been one of the top digital marketing trends for several years. This shouldn’t come as a surprise since fresh online content can help to fuel your social media presence and draw attention to almost any type of business. Maintaining relevant content can help to attract and retain your audience, but creating consistent, engaging content takes time. You might not have the time to spend writing when you’re busy with all the other tasks that accompany running your business.

You may have considered hiring a copywriter, although you may have another goal in mind. Perhaps you’re hoping to establish yourself as an industry leader in addition to hiring a writer who understands how to write unique, compelling copy. If that’s the case, here are three reasons why you might consider hiring a ghostwriter.

3 Reasons Why You Need to Hire a Ghostwriter

A Copywriter and More

You may have heard the term ghostwriter, but many associate ghostwriters with novel-length publications. You may not have considered that you could hire a ghostwriter to assist with creating articles, blogs or other content for your online marketing. There are other benefits for you, besides obtaining quality copy. Publishing frequent, relevant information related to your business specialty allows your name, and your company, to become associated with having expertise in this area.

For the best return on your investment, consider a ghostwriter skilled in copywriting. This can allow you to have strong SEO-focused copy, not what you’ve read regurgitated on every other blog and website, while being unique to you and your business. They can tell a story in an engaging way and set you apart from your competition.

Establish Yourself as an Industry Leader

One difference between a ghostwriter and a copywriter is who receives public credit for the work. The ghostwriter writes the copy, but you or your company are associated with the content.

A good ghostwriter will spend some time getting to know your writing style and voice to ensure the content represents you well. You can collaborate on the articles and topics you feel are beneficial. In addition to researching your topic, they’ll polish the articles to meet your satisfaction since they represent you.

Usually, it’s predetermined whether your byline will accompany the content, and the degree of confidentiality. The ghostwriter would be aware of whether they could use the content in their portfolio, to share as an example of their work privately with other clients, or not at all. You determine whether you want to hire on a monthly retainer, or project-based. This way you can evaluate the working relationship without a long-term employee commitment.

Expertise in Your Niche

Most likely when you’re looking to hire, you want someone who is an expert in your business area. The same should be considered when choosing a ghostwriter. Choose a writer that’s familiar with your niche. You want someone who knows the language, the trends, the products, and most importantly, your audience.

For example, if you work in healthcare, hiring a ghostwriter with a science-based background can bring authenticity to your content. They can create engaging content that could be applicable for your customer, whether it’s the patient, family, or other leaders in your field. Choosing a ghostwriter that can write clear, concise, relevant SEO content that’s specific to the needs of your business could save you time and work to improve your strategic marketing.

Choose an Expert

Why would you pay someone to write something that you can do yourself? Perhaps the same reason you pay someone to cut your hair or assist with your taxes. If you want quality, you go to an expert. You want someone who specializes in their area of expertise. There’s no reason to settle for anything less for your business, especially if you consider how a ghostwriter that focuses on your niche can be a positive investment.

Have You Ever Considered Hiring a Ghostwriter for a writing project? Check Out The Healthcare Marketing Network for Specialists in Your Niche.

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!

 

Puppy Mom Writes a Book

Our good friend, author, founder of Cancer Harbors, puppy mom, and member of The Healthcare Marketing Network, Alene Nitzky finished her first book this Summer!

Her book, perfectly titled Navigating the C: A Nurse Charts the Course on Cancer Survivorship Care, is about all the stakeholders in healthcare and how each of these groups can do a better job of ensuring that cancer survivors’ needs are met. She blogged through the process over at The Social Nurse and we’re thrilled to share said process with you today!

Check out these 4 posts by Alene to follow along in her book writing journey with pups!

1. Getting Started

In this first article, Alene tells us about her history with writing and how she’s wanted to write a book since she was 10! Follow along as she talks about money, having the right support system, and diving into the good stuff.

2. Lessons Learned

Ever wondered how raising puppies related to writing a book? Look no further! Alene covers five lessons she’s learned while writing a book with these adorable puppies and how they’ve tied into the creation of her first book.

3. Author’s Mission

Alene states her mission in this journey is to “show the healthcare world and all its stakeholders, the value of creativity, authenticity, resourcefulness, and empathy, and inspiring movement toward, and respect for, these qualities in all endeavors.” Read the full article to hear more about each element of her mission!

4. The Last Word

The last word has been written; now what? Well, lots of personal growth and professional development for one, not to mention the cutest dogs in the world have birthdays!

Writing a book is no easy feat, so we tip our hats to Alene and her courageous adventure as a puppy mom and author! We also want to give a huge shout out to Deanna Gillingham, author of the popular Case Management Study Guide for being a great encouragement to Alene and Sage Marketing Group for partnering with her every step of the way!

CONGRATS ON THE COMPLETION OF YOUR BOOK ALENE!

We are so proud of you here at The Healthcare Marketing Network and can’t wait to see what comes next!

 

How Writing Kept Me in Nursing

By the time I found freelance healthcare writing I was desperate. Frantically searching for months, trying to find less physical roles away from the bedside and considering leaving nursing altogether. Chronic illness had thrown a major wrench into my career goals. After years of pridefully perfecting my nursing skills I suddenly felt hopeless, wondering how I could possibly continue to utilize these skills in a way that my mind would be fulfilled and my body wouldn’t reject. The very thought of leaving nursing gave me a queasy feeling.

 

I had wanted this for so long…worked so hard. It was part of my identity. 

 

It had been difficult to work the floor as long as I can remember, but I pushed through. I had already endured so much getting to where I was in my career. How could I let this go so easily? My thoughts kept racing backward; nursing school, starting work, night shift, back to school, chasing new opportunities, climbing the clinical ladder – all while trying to find time for constant prescription refills, injections, infusions, specialist appointments and hospital visits.

Maybe I overestimated my physical abilities. Maybe I underestimated the physical nature of nursing, but after a decade of building my career as a young oncology nurse none of it seemed to matter now. This is where I was – in this moment, feeling stuck. Having been on both sides of the bedrails I loved bedside care. However, with time passing and my symptoms progressing rather than improving, it was only getting harder to work.

 

My body and soul were exhausted.

 

An increase in chronic pain, fatigue and a barrage of other symptoms made it increasingly difficult to focus. I wasn’t connecting with my patients. I was hardly able to show up for my shifts. Taking care of others is not easy when you are feeling awful yourself. I made accommodations to my situation: gotten on day shift for years, reduced my hours – eventually going per diem, reducing my hours further, moving to more of a desk job, even going out on disability twice in my twenties. Already having made several adjustments over the years, I was forcefully trying to stick with it, stubbornly holding tight to my ego.

It was time to let go and search for a new path. After many hours of internet research I had finally found it. Freelance healthcare writing. It was like a light at the end of a long dark tunnel. I had always possessed a love for writing from a young age. Now I could merge my creative outlet with my wealth of clinical knowledge. But…could I do it? I wanted to try but found myself swirling in self doubt. Did I even have potential as a writer? How do I get started without a lick of prior experience? Networking.

I was fortunate enough to have my first piece picked up by a large website specifically for nurses. It gave me a place to gain my confidence and try out material on those I trusted most – my nursing peers. Their opinions very much matter to me and I seek their approval. However, it was not a position that was going to pay my bills. It was time to think bigger. Reaching out to other freelance writers proved extremely fruitful. They were so willing to help, offering whatever pieces of knowledge they possessed. Through making a few connections I came across the Healthcare Writers Network in it’s infancy. It was fascinating to see many names of writers I had come across before – all coming together in one online community.

This network only gets better each week. There are tons of #freelancefriday videos to learn from other successful writers, leads for work, answers to many burning questions, contests and support. So much support! Yes, finding freelance writing kept me in nursing but this network of writers (and the successful women who lovingly run it) gave me the tools I need to succeed. I’ve met incredible like minded people that genuinely want to help and watch my success grow. That seems to be increasingly rare these days. With that, there’s a wonderful energy that surrounds such a group. Being a part of it only makes you want to be better and strive for more with the added comforts of a support net and valid soundboard.

Through my freelancing journey I have found many things. A new skill, validation in the knowledge I possess after years of nursing, and a community I fit right in with. I am grateful to have found such a place and find I feel more fulfilled with every new article I write and each new connection I make. Best of all, balancing my illness with my work seems to be falling right into place and I am again hopeful for my future in nursing.

Are you a healthcare writer that would like to take your career to the next level? Join The Healthcare Marketing Network!

 

6 Reasons To Ghostwrite

Sean asked: OK, Group. What are your thoughts, experiences, and knowledge about ghostwriting? I’m still learning. Looking for a good explanation of why a writer would take on a ghostwriting project? Don’t you want credit where credit is due? Anxious to hear your answers.

 

Join us as we dive in to this great question by Sean!

I think the best way to tell explain why writers take on ghost projects is to cover the reasons ghostwriting rocks!

Ready? Let’s do it!

 

1. EXPERIENCE 

One of the most common reasons writers take on a ghostwriting project is to gain experience. Since you can’t put a ghostwritten piece in your portfolio unless it is okay with the client, it makes the most sense to use it to gain experience. Make money while learning? Yes, please!

2. IT’S LUCRATIVE

Fellow freelance writer and Healthcare Marketing Network member Vicky Warren says she has learned ghostwriting clients tend to pay more because they don’t have the time to do it! Ghostwriters can charge up to 30% more per word (insert the lyrics to Abba’s ‘Money, Money, Money’ here).

3. EASIER TO LAND GIGS

If you’re looking for a writing opportunity and haven’t had much luck, ghostwriting could be your next logical step. Most clients will jump on board with the idea of you ghostwriting for them before they’ll agree to let you guest write on their blog, which makes it the simpler route for landing gigs. In addition, clients who want to ramp up their traffic know that quality content plays a significant role in doing so. In short, clients are willing to pay for quality content because they just don’t have the extra time to put into their blog.

4. WRITE FOR ROCKSTAR THOUGHT LEADERS

Being in the shadows isn’t always a bad thing! Ghostwriting often allows you to work with and/or for some amazing people! Working for industry thought leaders is very fulfilling and almost always provides a learning opportunity (or two)!

5. YOU DON’T HAVE TO MARKET A THING

After you post an article on your blog, you’re responsible for getting it a little lovin’. You may find yourself on social media sharing it, emailing it to fellow colleagues, or telling your friends about it. When you work for a ghostwriting client, that’s all on them!

6. YOU DON’T WANT TO BE KNOWN FOR THAT NICHE

Some writers take on a project that’s out of their niche, so they’d rather not be known for it. For example, I could write a fantastic article about the benefits of medical marijuana, but that isn’t something I necessarily stand for. I’m not totally against it, but I’m not “all in” either. When ghostwriting you can write for a client, but still keep your name off it.

 

Before jumping into a ghostwriting project, I’d recommend thinking about why you’re doing it. Try asking yourself these two important questions:

  • Will it bother me not to receive credit for my work?
  • Will I be okay with my work being edited beyond my control?

There are  very successful ghostwriters that love what they do and wouldn’t have it any other way! If you want a job that is lucrative and enjoy writing for companies, ghostwriting could be a great addition to your list of services!

Do you ghostwrite? What other pros can you add to the list?

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

 

My Road to Writing and How the HMN Community is Making It Happen

Anyone who knows me personally or professionally, will tell you that I thrive best when I am seeking out new experiences; that I am easily bored when confined to the same nursing job for years, and that I am always in search of neoteric jobs, both laterally and upwardly. On average, I stay at the same job for approximately three or four years, although some have been shorter and some longer. At that point, I start to explore other opportunities.

My new pursuit is writing. Putting pen to paper excites me.

When I went into nursing, I never imagined that I would be writing for medical journals or blogging on the internet. In fact, I was a college graduate who had no interest in pursuing a degree, let alone a Masters.

I started professionally writing when I was enrolled in a Masters of Nursing Program (yes, I caved and obtained a BScN, and reckoned after I should just keep going). Although writing was obligatory, I loved it. I enjoyed the literature reviews, the annotated bibliographies and the frequent analyses of articles (I know it’s crazy, no one likes this stuff). I found that I could write quickly and with substance, both for professionals and lay-persons.

When writing, I get inside my head, which some would consider a dangerous neighbourhood to be in. Joking aside, writing is definitely for me.

I started to write for nursetogether.com which is a great nursing community and I have written nine blogs for them. Unfortunately, they are deleting their website but I will be forever grateful to them and to their editor who did so much to encourage me.  

With some blogging experience now on my resume, I started to research different websites that hire writers, for example About.com, Webmd, and Medscape, just to name a few.  Although I didn’t hear back from them when I sent my resume in, I was not to be discouraged.  I came across allnurses.com and read an impressive article on writing by Nurse Beth. It is called ‘How Blogging Helped my Nursing Career’. It is a must read for anyone with this calling. Then, I sent in a question “about blogging” to her link Get Career Advice- Ask Nurse Beth Your Nursing Career Questions” and she answered me right away with kind and encouraging words. She read some of my blogs and told me to continue on my path to become a writer.

That inspired me to keep going. She then urged me to join a closed group on Facebook, called the Healthcare Writer’s Network.

I have found an incredible group of individuals from all over the world, with similar goals and others vastly different. What brings us together however, is our love of freelance writing.

Now, I have joined many groups on Facebook but this group is superior! What the Healthcare Writer’s Network has taught me, is that writing regularly, whether for publication or personal journaling, provides an abundance of benefits. It’s a means of self-exploration and reflection, a clever way to learn and stay current, and surprisingly it turns you into a ‘writer’. Other rewards are:

Personal and professional growth:

  • Its therapeutic.
  • It leads to mindful living.
  • It demands self-discipline and confidence to generate thought-provoking work.
  • It’s a valuable tool for reflecting, articulating, and creating.
  • Positive reactions from readers leads to gratitude and motivation to write more.
  • Constructive feedback incites you to outshine yourself next time.

Enrichment for others:

  • Through frank writing, empathy, and disclosure of candid feelings and experiences, one can foster a relationship with readers.
  • Powerful writing can impassion, inspire, transform minds and history, open doors and build communities.

Increased learning and productivity:

  • The attractiveness of writing is that one can write about anything. Topics are limitless. Learning is boundless.
  • Writing is a syntactical discovery of language.
  • It improves vocabulary, working memory, communication, critical thinking, empathy, insight and decision making.  

New opportunities and extra income:

  • Blogging and writing can lead to compensation for product reviews, guest blogging, endorsements, interviews, consultations, conferences and speaking engagements (Nurse Beth, 2016).

Emotional and physical benefits:

  • In his article ‘The Psychological Benefits of Writing: Why Richard Branson and Warren Buffett Write Regularly’, Gregory Ciotti maintains that expressive writing has been associated with happiness, contentment and decreased stress for those who absorb themselves in prose frequently.
  • Nightly writing can improve sleep, depression, hypertension and other physical ailments according to one ‘Health and Well-Being’ study (Huffington Post, 2013).

Despite obtaining no fame or wealth from my writing (so far), it is something that I enjoy. The subjects I could write about are truly endless. Mostly, I like to write on topics that will help day-to-day nurses strengthen their assessments.

Ultimately, this is helping the patient. Therefore, writing is still nursing.

I performed all the exhilarating things in nursing, the code blues, the defibs, the hand-holding of the dying, the comforting of family, the stumbling upon a symptom that wasn’t there before, and the straightforward task of dispensing medication. I love nursing and all the confidence and prospects it has brought me.

I love writing too. It calms me and excites me at the same time. In nine short months, I have issued two peer-reviewed nursing articles, published multiple blogs and am a volunteer editor on an editorial board.

Its exhilarating to go after your dreams. I have found a few writing jobs that pay too!!

I searched on indeed.com using words such as ‘content writer’, ‘health writer’ and ‘medical writer’.  Since then, I have obtained three freelance jobs. Now, I am not giving up my day job yet, but that option is getting closer each time I write.  

I am not always good at keeping up with my goals, so I made my writing goal small but achievable. I set up a small office space in my house with a ‘vision board’ and whiteboard calendar where I document my jobs so I don’t lose track.

I bought myself a small portable tablet which I can throw in my purse which allows me to write virtually anywhere.

I promised myself that I would write 30 minutes per day.  What happened is I wrote more… sometimes writing an hour… or two… or three. GOAL MET!

I still write for free at this point, or write for a small amount of money, but it adds to my resume and that means gold to me.

If you aren’t afraid to take your time searching for jobs, even in the weirdest places, you can find work.  I am currently writing for RMHealthy.com and ourdoctor.ca.  They are websites that provide health information on a variety of subjects.  Although they guide me when deciding on topics, I am free to write in any form I wish.

Since joining Healthcare Writer’s Network, I have interacted with many people who want to see me succeed.

We all post different things in the group to help each other meet our writing goals. I have to admit, I find myself excitedly rushing home and signing in to Facebook to see who has posted new information in this group. Whether its “How to Make a Podcast” or “How to Pitch Your Article” I am learning a lot and am grateful to this group for all of their assistance.

The advantages of writing are endless. Write about passion. Write about challenges. Write often. Just write.

 

References

How Blogging Helped my Nursing Career

The Top 10 Benefits Of Blogging On Your Website

Benefits of Blogging – Reasons You Should Start A Blog For Personal Development

The Psychological Benefits of Writing: Why Richard Branson and Warren Buffett Write Regularly

6 Unexpected Ways Writing Can Transform Your Health