It’s a question I get a lot.
When I connect with aspiring health writers, they often have great content planned in their heads, they just need the confidence to go ahead and write. In my experience, no matter the niche, there is one constant whenever I speak to a fellow writer: no origin story is ever the same. The path that led them to their success is always unique. That’s the beauty.
I am personally not a Doctor. What I do possess is a thirst for knowledge, a love of writing, and diverse experience within the health communications world.
With that said, below are my top tips for getting your own health writing career up and running, based on my own experience.
Six top tips to get your career as a health writer up and running
1. Find your own voice
There are so many niches within health writing. So many possibilities. The world of health is incredibly diverse, so make sure you spend time considering how to play to your strengths.
Health writing may cover nutrition, exercise, mental health, preventative care, lifestyle choices, and much more…
Deciding where to start can be an overwhelming prospect. Think about the different ways you would like to write about health. Where do your skills and experiences lie? What would you be passionate about researching and writing? What are you passionate about communicating to the world?
2. Get networking with other health writers
It’s daunting getting started, I know. There are so many other health writers out there saying incredible things. Publishing your first blog or article can be an overwhelming prospect.
My advice is don’t lurk. Don’t scan LinkedIn, clicking on thumbs and then disappear into the void. Click, like and comment. Say something meaningful. Before you know it you’ll be chatting to like-minded professionals, comparing notes and boosting your confidence. They say it’s all about turning up. That’s because it’s true.
Over time you’ll cement relationships through your positive interactions. Go form alliances with other newbies. Seek guidance from the experienced pros. It won’t take long until you’re a respected voice on online forums and being invited to industry events, networking in person.
Positivity like this creates momentum, and momentum is so important when you’re just getting started. The classic social media expression, ‘there’s room for everyone’ is true. Go find your place.
3. Get into good research habits
You’ve probably searched how to become a health writer more times than you’d care to admit.
You will have soon discovered that the answer is a little ambiguous and, like any writing path, highly subjective. The one constant in the crowd of voices is…do your research. Experience and research will give you a solid foundation to begin your writing career and a sure footing to tackle any project.
Indeed, one of the key skills I believe every health (or medical) writer must possess is dedication to research. Research is crucial to providing factual information for your target audience.
As health writers providing content for the public, we have a responsibility. In the healthcare world, things change very quickly. New research is being conducted all the time. New medicines are coming to market. Patients, healthcare professionals and the public need accurate information – now – to inform appropriate decision-making.
It’s our job to get that right.
4. Just get writing
It’s easy to get weighed down with the pressure of finding paying writing clients. There’s a lot of advice out there and many contradictions, which can be confusing for aspiring health writers. My advice is to just. get. writing.
Yes, even if you have no actual clients.
Start creating a compelling portfolio. Choose a topic you’re passionate about and just write. Don’t let the SEO and keyword pressure distract you. For now, you just need to find your writing groove and get that momentum rolling.
Then repeat the process with a new title, maybe adding some external links from reputable medical websites this time. Keep practising your craft and before you know it you’ll have a tidy little portfolio to call your own. With sustained effort, you’ll see improvements in your writing proficiency, editorial skills and the crucial ability to translate complex information into accessible health content.
While some of your progression will naturally be self-directed, don’t dismiss the amazing range of courses, workshops and training resources out there aimed at health writers and freelancers. You could do worse than to start here.
5. Compare your quality
Once you have a collection of work, compare it to some of the published pieces that inspired you to get into the health writing field in the first place.
What did they do that attracted you to their style? Are there any adjustments you can make to align your quality level with theirs?
Perhaps it was their referencing. Perhaps it was their ability to effortlessly insert high quality external links. There’s no harm in taking inspiration from those held in high regard in the industry and across your social media platforms.
6. Put yourself out there
My final tip is to put your words out there.
Explore opportunities on digital content platforms, submit blogs on forums and offer guest contributions to gain exposure, confidence and credibility. Get into the habit of posting the words you write across your social media platforms and website. Make sure you repurpose your content across different platforms.
Become comfortable directing your readers to your other work too and before you know it, you’ll have a network of professionals that want to discuss your portfolio.
Should I take the plunge as a health writer?
If you’re on the fence and unsure whether to take the leap into the fabulously diverse world of health writing, have a read of my 18-month freelancing summary and see how the early stages went for me.
Again, no story is the same, but if there is even one detail that resonates with you, let it be the confidence boost you need to get going.
There’s something powerful about approaching health writing from a non-medical background. Don’t dismiss it. The ability to think about complex concepts, break down medical jargon and translate it into a piece accessible to all is a truly impressive skill.
Thanks for reading. I hope you found it useful. I’m always open to networking and I’d love to hear about your own writing journey and how you got to where you are now.
– Drop me a line if you’re interested in one-to-one mentoring from a health writer with a
decade of experience.
– Reach out if you want to connect on a health writing project.
– Take a look at my previous blog to learn a little bit more about my story.