Want to Break into Healthcare Writing? Here’s Help

Although I’ve done some healthcare writing (articles, brochures, news releases, etc.), I’m too much a generalist to claim a niche in that arena. Other writers, however, have no such limits. Today I happened upon a healthcare website that just might lead me to take another look at that specialty.

On her website, health writer Kathy Summers says you can “Have a sick amount of fun and make money writing about health.” And she shows you how.

Kathy’s writing about health, nutrition, fitness, and environmental health has appeared in national and international magazines, including Reader’s Digest, Prevention, Health, Natural Health, Men’s Health, Shape, Alternative Medicine/Natural Solutions. Plus, she has written books for Rodale and HarperCollins and SEO content and copywriting for websites and international companies.

Healthcare writing can be a lucrative field. I know that health care copywriting starts at $50 per hour and up (often way up), and 2,000 word articles can bring in from $250 to $4,000 and up. I’ve not done any healthcare writing for international companies but from what I’ve read, the pay is all over the place. On the low end, some web content writers, especially beginners, sell their healthcare writing for $1 per article or less; others earn decent amounts for writing about healthcare for the web.

If you are at all interested in doing healthcare writing, you might start by checking out Kathy’s “Health Writing Basics.” Don’t fail to read “Write Health Articles for Magazines” and “Write Health Content for Websites.” Also look for the “Health Writer Toolbox.”

It’s an interesting website to visit. I think you will not be disappointed.
© 2009 by Laverne Daley

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Business Writing: Tips for Finding Clients

The article I pulled from a magazine on business writing is now wrinkled and yellowed, but the advice in it is as fresh as the day I first read it. “Stalking the Business Client” was written by Paul M. Thompson. then a full-time business writer for a Detroit-area marketing communications agency.

In the article, the writer included tips for finding clients — tips that I found very helpful early in my freelance writing business. Some of the tips are just as valid today as they were then (I have no idea when the piece was published because the magazine carried no date, only the issue: Volume 14. It was a Writer’s Digest Guide). I tried to find current information about the author but kept hitting blank walls.

Despite that, I hope it won’t be amiss to include here several of his tips for building a client base. These tips can be especially helpful for beginning freelancers.

1. Volunteer to write a civic-charity newsletter, because that offers you material for your portfolio, plus valuable experience and excellent contacts.

2. Take a potential client to lunch — this gives the client an opportunity to know you and gives you a chance to develop a real relationship with the client.

3. Send relevant industry information to clients, along with a FYI note: a magazine article, an interesting insight, a quotation from an expert. This helps to keep your name in front of a client, and it doesn’t even have to be business-related; it could deal with your client’s hobby or special interests.

4. Look for bad writing, then diplomatically show how you can improve a poorly written newspaper ad, brochure or mailing piece. Show how the improved piece will boost sales or otherwise help the bottom line of a client’s (or potential client’s) business. Remember, the key here is to be diplomatic.

5. This is one I’ve used with great success: Focus on company departments that need writing. In most businesses, usually just a few departments are responsible for written communications, internal and external, and often the workload is more than the staff can handle. They may not even have the expertise to get a client’s story into a trade journal. Using freelance writers is more cost effective than the service of a public relations firm or advertising agency.

In my situation, that focus resulted in assignments to write annual reports, feature articles, speeches, presentations and even box copy for products. One company used my writing services for eight years.

6. Establish contact with your local Chamber of Commerce. Thompson said this probably is the best single means of getting your name in front of businesspeople — you get to know the movers and shakers in the business community.

These are all good tips, in my opinion. I’ve used them and added to my income considerably as a result. You might want to do the same.

© 2009 by Laverne Daley

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How to Begin a Nonfiction Article

Much has been written on the subject of how to begin an article (the lead). I have long been a fan of the following short piece about nonfiction leads, and I’ve turned to it many times when I had trouble beginning a writing project.  I first found this bit years ago in a small publication called “The Writer’s Survival Guide,” published by the Writer Magazine.

These words were written by Arthur Plotnik, who has also written scores of magazines articles, columns and books. One of his latest books is Spunk & Bite: A Writer’s Guide to Punchier, More Engaging Language & Style (Random House Reference).

Here’s his take on the subject of writing nonfiction leads:

“….Inventive writers have devised dozens of approaches, but much of their work falls within six of (editor Robert L.) Baker’s ways to open a story: someone’s remark, an intriguing question, a striking or startling statement, descriptive stage-setting, storytelling narrative, and a one-line attention-getter called a ‘capsule’ (as in crime writer Edna Buchanan’s lead: “Gary Robinson died hungry.”).

If you ever have trouble getting started writing a nonfiction article, you might zero in on one of these six approaches.  Your problem just may be solved.

© 2009 by Laverne Daley

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