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Infographic

How to Ignite Your Creative Process

Attention-grabbing prose can’t always be cranked out on demand. Most writers can relate to occasionally being frozen by a blank page and a looming deadline. Nonetheless, some simple steps can get ideas flowing and your writing moving in the right direction.

Check out the infographic below for suggestions on firing up creativity, especially when you feel like you’re at a standstill.

How do you get your creative juices flowin’? Tell us on our podcast! Leave a voicemail on our homepage!

The Savvy Scribe

Tony Guerra – Pharm D and Author

Meet Tony PharmD, Podcaster, YouTube Creator, and Author

Carol Bush welcomed Tony Guerra, host of the Pharmacy Leaders Podcast to The Savvy Scribe to talk about being a creator, author, and teaching Pharmacist.

 

Carol:                        00:32                 Welcome to the Savvy Scribe podcast. Today I’m doing a solo show today without Janine. The productivity queen is working hard or she’s working out or working one of her 10 jobs. I’m very excited to welcome our good friend Tony Pharmd on Twitter, also known as in real life. Tony, welcome to the show and Tony is not only a nurse’s best friend. Okay. Oncology nurses, best friend is the pharmacist speaking from my clinical background and that he is also the host of the pharmacy leaders podcast where he features interviews and advice on building a professional brand and purposeful second income, which is why one of the things I really love about him, he talks about profit and money and managing finances, which is the number one important thing that we want to do as entrepreneurs and CEOs of our own business. Tony is also a writer and author of several books and he has a Marvey youtube following as well. So welcome to the show, Tony.

Tony:                        01:39                   Thanks for having me.

Carol:                        01:40                   Well, we’re excited that you’re here. And also we share a love of the Midwest, you know, in the healthcare marketing network. I was talking with one of our new members yesterday who’s also in Des Moines, Iowa as a matter of staff. Cool. And that we have a lot of people on the east coast and west coast, but not a ton of midwesterners. So, you’re in Iowa and I’m in Kansas.

Tony:                        02:06                   Well, I’m a Washingtonian. That’s where I was born. So I’m from Washington DC. But if you marry a Midwesterner, you end up in the Midwest.

Carol:                        02:16                   That’s exactly right. Well, Tony, it, we’d love to hear in our community. Everyone loves to hear the story of what prompted you as a healthcare professional to begin this journey of creativity, whether you’re a writer or a content creator. So I’d love to hear just in the beginning, tell us about what you do and a little bit about your writing or creativity journey.

Tony:                        02:44                   My full time job as a teacher, I as a chemistry and pharmacology in college, I teach at a community college and part of what I do is also teach pharmacology to students who are looking to become nurses. And I didn’t know pharmacology was such a struggle and I kind of understood why a little bit later in that some nursing curricula have chemistry before pharmacology and some don’t. So it’s kind of like putting the cart before the horse if you take pharmacology that way. And, and my first kind of big hit was writing a book for that group that uh, you know, solve the problem of I don’t have chemistry, I want to succeed in pharmacology. Here’s a book you can listen to over the weekend. And just anecdotally, since I’ve been doing this for some, by almost five years, those that have listened to the book had 11% higher grade in their pharmacology class, wherever they went to school, then if they didn’t listen to the book beforehand. So to succeed in pharmacology you have to kind of take in pharmacology. So it was just really successful. But I also understand your tribe likes to hear about failures too. So you just let me know what you want me to start with and I’ll start there.

Carol:                        04:06                   What’s your first audio book? And they are all audio.

Tony:                        04:11                  I’ve made 14 audio books. Yeah, summer successes. Some are failures, but you want to stick with the 80 20 rule with your writing. And so I think many people beat themselves up when they hear this writing didn’t sell or something like that. But 20% of your writing will generate 80% of your money.

Carol:                        04:32                   Okay, perfect. So, the book and the content creation and you focused on the production through audible, is that correct?

Tony:                        04:43                   Yeah, they just hit us pretty hard with the change in reimbursement. So I’ll lose about 25,000 every year coming up. But I still sell about 10,000 books a year in all three forms. So I’m still making about five or six a month. But that’s all passive income and it’s more because I have three, seven year old daughters and, and besides life insurance and those things, it’s nice to know that royalties will support my family if anything happens to me.

Carol:                        05:12                   That’s perfect. And it sounds like your family is a big quiet, but I understand. And part of the reason that you started the pharmacy leaders podcast is also because as you are connecting with people and you are a thought leader and a social media influencer in that pharmacy space, there’s a very particular challenge for pharmacy students that they graduate having a lot of debt.

Tony:                        05:40                   Oh yeah. The average is now a one 65, I think for the average student, closer to 200 for the privates, one 40 for the public’s. And we’re in a real, real tough job market now for pharmacists. Just as physicians, we’re actually in a tough job market in the late eighties if you’re, I don’t think you’re old enough to remember that, but I am.

Tony:                        06:05                   Okay. But it also, we can talk a little bit about this, but I think the, the one thing that I buy with my money is, I have to, this is maybe pathologic, but I have two years of income in the bank. So My, my nest egg is not a nest egg really. It’s just that provides peace of mind for me and for my family.

Carol:                        06:28                   And I think that’s perfect. As the partner, my husband works for Spirit aerosystems, which is the old commercial Boeing, and he builds the tools who build the planes. And so, especially with the recent issues related to the Max 80, I’m very cognizant of the whole pathological need to put a lot in the bank for savings to weather all kinds of economic situations in downturn. So I totally, totally understand that. So a little bit about as you were writing the books for the folks who now are in our tribe, our freelance writers, so they’re writing for other people, but strategies really helped you get started in focusing on developing the passive income and what, what tools helped you?

Tony:                        07:22                   Well, I think that your guys’ job is a lot harder than mine. I write a book, publish it and hope that it, it brings a return. And most of the time it does, but sometimes it doesn’t. But you guys have to continue to pitch, continue to pitch. And I think that it’s good to have both where you’re actively working as a writer, but then also have that passive income from the larger books. But then the next question is always, well, what do I write about? And what’s going to happen is, is that as you write, you’re going to get feedback on some of those articles and you’re going to find needs. So while you’re writing that article for somebody else, maybe getting paid not a ton for that specific article, they come back to you and say, oh my gosh, you would not believe how many people wanted to hear about that. And I’ll give you an example in the pharmacy space where there’s the pharmacist mom’s group, and I don’t know if there’s a nurse’s moms group, but that group is now 23,000 pharmacists in Facebook. And I’m not allowed in. You have eliminated half of us. Uh, and so there’s 300,000 pharmacists, I think total. So out of 150,000 that means they’re getting close to having 20% of the entire group of pharmacists in that, that one space. And so if you are one of those, Susie Solomon was the one that started it, but when you’re tried gets that big, you’ve definitely hit a chord. So I think one of the biggest mistakes that I see is you’re going to try to get education and like a degree or a writing degree or things like that for something that you might need instead of doing what you should be doing, which is hanging out with you, Janine, Janet, getting the skills that you need to do the project you’re trying to do right now. I think that, uh, the way that you do it as a a lot better. So the, but the answer the question briefly, uh, really what, what someone wants to do as a writer is make sure that they’re tracking the results. Even if they don’t have the direct numbers, give them a call back, give an email back, hey, I just wanted to see how that article did. Did it do well? Did it not? And then that’s when you can find out what your bigger projects should be on those things that really hit home and some of the smaller things that you’ve written.

Carol:                        09:43                   So I really loved it. You’re identifying, you know, really stressing that, identifying the need. And for those in our tribe who maybe create a content related to course creation or those who are in the education space, whether they are, um, you know, nurses, physicians, social workers, whomever, if they’re planning any educational event, they’re very familiar with, they have to do a needs assessment about your audience before you plan the event. So same thing with, um, with the books. So what was the synergy between the books and the pharmacy leaders? Podcasts? So talk a little bit about, was it the book first and then podcast or which was chicken and the egg?

Tony:                        10:32                   Oh, okay. Well, there are actually two different brands and they’re completely separate. Okay. No, they don’t actually fit at all. Really if you want to, I kind of put the cart ahead of the horse here with the pharmacy leaders podcast, which is you really want to get your own gig going, but it feels a lot better to give. So, the pharmacy leaders podcast, I just, what I did with it was I created a revenue model that doesn’t rely on advertising. So at the end of every podcast episode, you’ll hear an advertisement for one of my books. So last year I had 205,000 downloads, I think on that podcast. And it comes from giving status to people when you’re doing a podcast or when you’re writing something which are really providing a status. So just like you where you would, where Kansas state and I would wear Iowa state, we gained status from our Alma maters you podcast and you interview someone, you give them status, and then all of a sudden they come to you to become your Facebook friend and those things.  So instead of create, trying to create a space where I pay attention to me, pay attention to me, pay attention to me. If you pay attention to enough other people, they will pay attention to you. And it was doing last three episodes a week, uh, that, that created those bigger numbers. But now they know about me, then they care about my books and then they share my books and those things. So it’s really give, ask, receive a, which is maybe sometimes the opposite of what we actually try to end up doing in practice, which is, man, I really want people to read my writing. I want people to buy my books. But what you have to do is give status to other people or give free content to other people. And then that’s when they’ll pay attention to you, just like you guys do with the tribe.

Carol:                        12:24                   Yes. Actually that is something that’s very important for our tribe to understand about prospecting clients. It’s the same thing when you’re working in Linkedin because for example, that’s actually where predominantly most of our client leads come up with a website and Linkedin. It’s the same thing. Give, give value, give value, give value, ask and receive it. It’s the same thing. So I think that’s a very, very fascinating about that. So when we’re talking a little bit about the power of your community that you’ve built your tribe, I don’t know that people know this. Tony is a great champion of the healthcare marketing network. And like I said, you know, in the healthcare marketing network, we’re all about multidisciplinary approach. Rising tide lifts all boats. Um, and I think how we connected originally was of course Janet, but we had a project about a year ago that was going to require us to onboard about 80 or 90, writers and the project involved working with. I have really cool client and it was actually internal venture capital that was provided to an executive with the company to do their own pet project, but it was going to require taking pubmed abstracts and translating them into plain language.  And so of course a lot of the pubmed abstracts have medication adherence, a lot about clinical trials, things that pharmacists know a ton about. And we needed to onboard a lot of people. I think Janet reached out to you and said, Hey Tony, would you, you know, put a, put a promo out on your podcast. And O-m-g was, it was pretty big. In fact, I need to look back, go look back and pull the data. But I know we had hundreds of applicants and we in fact, so I have a little number scenario and I do need to pull more numbers because this is a great case study for your tribe, is that with that first part of that project, we paid writers and editors in the healthcare marketing network who qualified and had to go through, you know, a process and vetting and a writing. I particular writing tests, but we did pay them over $60,000 last year and over half of them were pharmacy students or pharmacy professionals looking for extra money. So we actually put to work some of those pharmacy students did not have to work at, you know, quick trip for their summer job. They got to be at home working on this project and earning money. I’m very proud and excited about that because it made a lot of difference for some folks.

Tony:                        15:29                   You’re a writer, you need kind of that group that comes from the national and state associations. So I focused on the National Association and I’ll be going to the American Pharmacist Association meeting in Seattle this Friday. But their email list is about 46,000 and there are certain things that they want and one of them is opportunities to work in non nonclinical or non patient care settings and it’s not that they don’t want to work with patients, but as any nurse pharmacist position knows there’s burnout and it would just be nice if a little bit of your week is non patient care and that’s why I love the writing and I love your writing community is that that writing community allows you to support patient care, patient care job that maybe is 32 hours instead of 40 or 48 or even less and then a non patient care and flexibility to take care of things like my kid has to come home right now because they’re sick or I need a little bit extra money or it costs about $7,000 to take three children to Harry Potter world.  This gig economy provides tremendous opportunity, but I think it saves more careers than anything else in that you’re kind of giving back the humanity to the person who would work 60 hours and it would burn themselves out and does burn themselves out. And I think that that’s a phenomenal thing that your community does is provide this non patient care opportunity.

Carol:                        17:05                   I don’t think we’ve focused on that enough, but predominantly why people do join our community is the transition. They are burned out or they’ve been laid off or they are looking for that creativity. They, you know, they want to surround themselves with a community who have an abundance mindset that lift one another up. Because unfortunately in healthcare cultures that’s very uncommon. And they also, like you said, have the desire to, you know, make that extra, whether it’s take the family on vacation, you know, braces on someone or we are caregivers ourselves of our 80 year old parents, et Sandra. So much generation. Yeah. Oh yeah. Your, your parents and your kids. Definitely. So we talked a little bit about how we connected in the power of both of our communities. So here’s where we get into the, I think we talked a little bit about that success. You definitely verified through the audio books, the pharmacy leaders podcast. I know actually your youtube channel is a huge success, but what are you most proud of in your, in this journey so far? And what were those strategies that our listeners, you know, what’s a simple strategy and it might be a mindset issue. I don’t know. What did you use to employ to achieve whatever you’re most proud of?

Tony:                        18:33                   Hmm, let me, let me take that in two parts. So what, what really gives me joy with the podcast part is to see the parents. So what’ll happen is I’ll interview one of the students as they’re on their third or fourth year of school. And then you see the parent kind of, you just kind of tear up as you see the parent saying, I’m so proud of you. And all of that. That’s kind of the gut wrenching heartbreaker just like, oh my gosh, that’s amazing. That parent child connection is there. And it’s a, it’s a very public giving of status to not only the student, but also to the family. And that is huge. And then every once in a while I’ll get the parent tried to friend me on face, no marriage proposals or anything like that. But

Tony:                        19:22                   So in terms of just kind of a good feeling, those are kind of the successes. Janine talked about the loneliness that comes with writing. And I guess my biggest success is, I want to say there’s a group of 10 of us or 15 of us in the social space. And for example, the, your financial pharmacist group. I’m going to be at their table at the American Pharmacist Association. So I’ll be doing one of their round tables. I had a real estate background, so I’ll be leading some of the students through how to get their first homes. I connected with Brandon Dyson of Tldr Pharmacy, who it is an oncology pharmacist, actually the director of pharmacy down in Texas. And he has Tldr, pharmacy.com and he’s a great guy. If you want to interview another pharmacist and that really knows oncology a, he teaches the pharmacology at Georgetown, their PA program or a nurse practitioner program.

Tony:                        20:19                   I can’t remember which. But basically as a guy, we have very few friends. I think the average is like 0.8 but I don’t even think we’d get to one like good friend. So what I’ve done is I’ve created friends through Todd Uri of the pharmacy podcast network, Brandon dice and Tldr. Add a Mark Adam who is the fit pharmacist, the the YFP team. There’s three tims. So I basically built this kind of like Bro Group and you know, I don’t, I’m not allowed in the moms group. So these are my brothers and social media and we all make money different ways, completely different ways. I didn’t, Matt mentioned Eric Christensen, who’s met Ed one Oh one then barker, who’s happy? Pharm d. So I want to say there’s 10 or 15 of us that have kind of have our own like tried with our own individual work. So I think that this is from my church.

Tony:                        21:17                   But the thing that I’m most proud of is that I made us group within the group. So you’ve got the healthcare marketing network. Every person in your group should at least have a group of maybe four to 15, some smaller group of whatever it is, nonfiction, healthcare writers or oncology writers. I don’t know. But, so the second thing I would be proud of it is creating a group of, uh, fellows in this kind of social media Gig economy, uh, that I’m working with, but not working against. It’s very kind of a unique relationship. But that’s the other thing I’m excited about is that I’m not alone, Janine.

Carol:                        21:56                   That’s huge. Because success as an entrepreneur, if you have a tribe, this multilayered tribe of people, I can’t even cite the data, but it’s a proven fact that those of us who have tribes of likeminded people continue cause their accountability, success and persistence. Because you know, what? 50% or more businesses fail. So just because people are part of a powerful tribe means you’re destined for success at a higher rate than others. So I’m the opposite of success. Here’s where I get into, because one of my members of my tribe, he told me this last week was like, Hey, we’d love to stories of success, but what about the Times people failed? And I like to look at failures as not like, oh, it’s the end. There’s setbacks because setbacks are a part of our journey. And just like Janet and I in our journey of working together, the healthcare marketing network, it didn’t happen overnight. We threw a lot of stuff on the wall to see what was going to stick. Um, so in terms of your journey, what things about like setbacks at first, is there a story that you could share that the setback that led you to your greatest growth today? And what was that pivot that you made that turn the step back  to something of growth? I don’t know if you’re familiar with entrepreneur on fire. It’s one of the biggest entrepreneurial podcast and he’s not as nice as you. He starts with the failure. That’s the first thing is like what was your worst entrepreneurial failure? And then he starts the a few from there. And the biggest failure I had was I had written memorizing pharmacology book, which now sells I think six to 8,000 copies a year. And I thought it was terrible and I thought no one wanted it. Put It on lulu.com which is one of those sites where you know you have the books made and then you know, I needed them for my classes and, and so I thought nobody cared about them. But then once I put it on Amazon or it went on Amazon and then I made the audio book, that’s when it took off. So you may not realize that you just put your writing in the wrong place. And that was the biggest failure was that my writing was in the wrong place. lulu.com is meant for people who need bulk books and maybe bookstores by them for their classrooms. But amazon.com is better than Google because Amazon has a bunch of people with credit card numbers looking to buy something.

 

Tony:                        24:40                  When you’re talking about your writing, you want to get it on Amazon. And audible as quick as you can. I pay for, I pay for audio talent because I choose not to use my own time to do that. That’s a personal choice, but it’s a lot cheaper to record it yourself and in nonfiction, people want to hear from you. So the biggest failure was putting my writing in the wrong place, calling myself a failure. And many people know that, you know, you’ve pitched a story to one person and they say, yeah, that’s just not for us. And they’re just saying, that’s just not for us. It’s not saying it’s bad, it’s just not for us. And then someone else is like, that’s for us. That’s what I wanted. And I think the biggest lesson I can give is don’t allow it person to say that your writing is a failure, rather, you’ve just failed to go to the right place with it.

Carol:                        25:38                   I love that. That’s perfect. I always like to also client work when someone says no, they’re not saying no to us. They’re just saying not right now and it might not be a good fit next. Okay. Go forth and conquer. Um, but I, I love that analogy and I think that’s a huge takeaway. A lot of folks in our community when they’re pitching, getting that no, feels really personal. You just need to tweak it and get to the right place. So I definitely love, I think that’s one of the best pieces of advice that our tribe could definitely take the heart. Before we wrap up, I’d love to just showcase a little bit about how can people work or connect with you and because we’re about rising tide lifts all boats, what’s, what’s something that healthcare marketing network tried can do for you? Like do you have a cool theme coming up or can we give some social love to something you’re working on the memorizing pharmacology book. Anyone knows? Any nursing students that are studying with pharmacology, if you can share it with them. I make like a dollar 40 a book. So it’s not the money that I know that lives have been changed because what happens is is that if you’re spending a bunch of time on something doesn’t mean you’re going to get through it because you just didn’t have the right mentoring and then once you can kind of get that mindset shift, that would just be awesome. Also, I just wanted to say thanks to you guys because you, it takes a ton of time to maintain the community. There are those Fridays where nobody responds with their great Friday or Sunday or whatever it is and I just appreciate all the hard work do you guys do to help us succeed as writers?

Tony:                        27:24                   Well, thank you very much and I agree. I think a great share would be to connect the memorizing pharmacology because of the data shows. Right? Someone who listens to that book 11% that can pharmacology if they listen to it before the semester.

Carol:                        27:44                   I love that. I love that. So also a little bit of fun at the very end. I love to hear what would, what are like three things or one thing. I know, what would our tribe be surprised to know about you?

Tony:                        28:00                   I’m comfortable running marathons. I got three seven year old daughters, which will one day be three three 17 year old

Carol:                        28:08                   and we’re going to pray for you throughout your lifetime.

Tony:                        28:13                   And then I’m, I’m a crossfitter too. That’s kind of something that’s new in the last six months that just something I love to do. But I think Janine was a gymnast or something like that. So I first strict handstand pushup like a week ago. And then my daughters are now competing with me in the living room. So you’ll see me at 46 years old doing handstands against my seven year old daughters. 

Carol:                        28:40                   since we are connected on Facebook and everywhere, I love following how you support your daughters. You’re a strong support and you’re raising strong daughters as a crazy nema two granddaughters. It’s very, very important. So we’re in, yes I am. I’m 58. Dude. I am crazy. Mima there’s a Hashtag my family, they call me crazy mee Maw, all the kids and the old just dubbed me. She’s a crazy me ma. Uh, so now it’s a Hashtag and yes, and crazy meme. I figure if making any Oliveira’s can be grumpy and you know, promote unhealthy eating of all the Disney foods, I could probably be crazy me, Ma, and maybe promote, you know, strong girls. Well, Tony, thank you so, so much for your time. I can’t wait to share the love of everything that you’re doing and also I that will continue. I know that there’ll be other interviews and we’re going to continue to collaborate very strongly with the pharmacy community because we love, love, love our pharmacy, freelance partners.

Tony:                        29:55                   Okay, well thanks for having me on and if you ever need anything, call pharmacy.

 

Thanks for listening to the savvy scribe, a podcast for freelance healthcare and medical writers. For more tips and links mentioned in the podcast, go to healthcaremarketingnetwork.com and don’t forget to join Carol and Janine for future power episodes and great conversations here at the savvy scribe.

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!

 

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! 

 

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 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!

 

5 Steps To a Great Freelance Contract

Freelance work is becoming a much more popular option for people in industries such as computer support, marketing, advertising, and obviously writing. If you intend to head out and find your own freelance work, then you should be prepared to provide a contract for your client to review and sign. In most cases, your clients will not have freelance contracts available, and you want to protect yourself with a contract that outlines your agreement in detail.

Below you’ll find my 5 steps to writing a great freelance contract!

1. Keep It Simple

The preferred way of executing a contract is to work with an attorney to create a comprehensive template and then customize that template for each situation. However, if you cannot afford the services of an attorney or would prefer to handle it yourself, then you will want to develop a contract that protects you as much as possible. You can buy a standard work contract at any office supply store, or you can create your own.

If you decide to create your own contract, then be sure to keep the wording very simple. People have a tendency to include a lot of what they perceive to be legal language that makes the contract appear more official, which I wouldn’t recommend. If you don’t know what something means, I’d suggest leaving it out of your contract.

2. Discuss Copyrights

In most cases, clients will want to put their own name on your work. This is called ghostwriting, and it is common in the freelance world. Whether you are creating marketing designs or writing internet copy, you will want to clearly outline how the copyrights for your work will be handled. If you assign all copyrights to your clients, then remember that you cannot use that work for any other client.

3. Outline A Payment Schedule

Never leave any part of your compensation up to interpretation. Your client may feel comfortable developing payment arrangements on the fly, but that idea should make you very nervous. When you create your contract for a freelance client, you need to include every payment detail that applies. For special work, you can include an hourly work rate or other special arrangements. You should never agree to do work that does not have its compensation outlined in the contract.

4. Define The Quality Of Work Requirements

If you are a creative professional, then you might have freelance clients who ask for endless changes to your work before they agree to pay for it. If you are a service provider, then your client could refuse payment if they do not feel your efforts meet their quality standards. The easiest way to keep your customer happy is to outline those quality standards in your contract.

Your contract should outline exactly what your client expects of you, as well as how many revisions to your work are covered by the contract. If there are changes that need to be made to this section as your relationship with the client evolves, then make the changes within the contract and get the client to initial said changes.

5. Establish Deadline Policies

If you do not work on the weekends, then you need to put that in your freelance contract. Remember that you are not entitled to employee benefits, so you should be extremely specific about when you are available to work. If you work on projects, then be sure that there are deadlines set for every project to avoid having to wait an unknown amount of time for a project to be approved for payment.

Legal advice can be expensive, but it is also essential if you want to develop your own freelance work contracts. However, if talking to a lawyer to get real legal advice is not in your immediate budget, then you should be very careful in how you set up your contracts. By keeping the information simple and dealing with real issues such as pay and deadlines, you will be able to develop contracts that you can use to protect yourself and grow your business.