Are you curious about what it takes to become a freelance nurse writer? Do you dream of working in sweatpants, setting your own deadlines, and being your own boss?
Freelance nurse writing is a flexible and scalable career that offers many benefits, including the ability to:
- Work from anywhere, at any time of day
- Choose your own clients and projects
- Build a side gig, on your own timeline, while holding down a full-time nursing job
- Improve your work-life balance
- Earn a good living with part-time hours
This article will walk you through the steps to build a freelance writing business, from the best sources to learn about freelance nurse writing to the nitty-gritty details of creating a website and finding clients.
How long does it take to be successful?
Freelance nurse writing is not a get-rich-quick scheme. Establishing a freelance writing business takes time, effort, and dedication. This is why many nurses start freelance writing as a side gig while they develop skills, build their businesses, and find their first clients.
If you need benefits like health insurance or a guaranteed income immediately, then freelance nurse writing isn’t the right choice, at least not right away. While it’s true that many freelance writers earn enough to support themselves and their families, it’s important to know that this type of business can take several years to fully develop.
Here is a potential timeline for a nurse writer who is starting freelance writing as a side hustle – at least 10 hours a week – in addition to their bedside work:
- Month 1: Research and learn about health writing
- Month 2: Create a basic website, updated resume, and optimized LinkedIn profile
- Month 3: Create three writing samples using free or lower-paying sources
- Month 4: Start pitching potential clients with a goal of 10 pitches per week
- Month 5: Start writing for your first few clients, perhaps earning $500 overall. Continue pitching to potential clients.
- Month 6: Use initial success as “social proof” of your writing ability and continue to pitch. Set an early income goal of $1000-$1500 this month.
- Months 7-12: Continue pitching and writing for clients, slowly replacing lower-paying or less desirable clients with better clients doing projects you enjoy. Earn between $2500-$3500 per month of supplemental income by the end of the year with around 15 hours of work per week in addition to full-time employment.
This timeline will vary widely based on individual time spent on freelance writing, niche, type of writing, and marketing efforts to find new clients.
How to become a freelance nurse writer
Are you wondering exactly how you can become a freelance nurse writer? Here’s how to get started.
Step 1: Research health writing and choose a niche
If you’re looking for a great introduction to nurse writing in general, check out RN2Writer. Her ebook is a low-cost starting point for those just dipping their toes into freelance writing. Other good resources are Laura Briggs, a freelance writer and military spouse, and Savvy Nurse Writer.
Step 2: Make a website
Every freelance writer should have their own website. Website building can sound scary, but if you’ve titrated a drip or learned to manage ventilator settings, you can absolutely learn how to build a simple website.
Many nurse writers get stuck at this stage, endlessly tweaking their website color palette or updating their theme. Set a goal to complete a very basic website and then start pitching – you can always make changes later.
For more help creating a website, Start a Mom Blog offers an excellent introductory course.
Step 3: Make a LinkedIn profile
LinkedIn is an incredible resource for freelance nurse writers. Take the time to optimize your LinkedIn profile, and you’ll find that clients will reach out to you instead of the other way around.
Step 4: Make a snazzy resume and cover letter
Your resume and cover letter are one of the main ways you will attract potential clients. Use these items as a marketing tool, paying particular attention to format, layout, and writing tone. Be sure to adjust your resume and cover letter for every client you pitch.
Step 5: Write your clips
Writing your first few clips can be intimidating. Remember that perfect is the enemy of good!
Write a free article for AllNurses or LinkedIn, look for entry-level positions on job sites like problogger.com, or reach out to volunteer organizations to see if you can write an article or newsletter for free. All it takes is a few initial clips to demonstrate your skill, and then you’re ready to go!
Step 6: Start pitching
Once you have your marketing materials assembled, you’re ready to start pitching clients. Set up alerts on sites like LinkedIn, Indeed, SolidGigs, Problogger, FreelanceWritingGigs, and FlexJobs. Join a few Facebook groups for freelance writers.
Be careful about paid memberships. A month-to-month membership to one site is a good investment as you’re getting started. Year-long memberships that cost hundreds of dollars may not be worth the cost.
Start a spreadsheet to record who you emailed, when, and what you pitched. Keep track of where you find potential clients and focus your business investment dollars on those that have the highest return for your type of clients.
Don’t be deterred by negative outcomes or even dead silence. Pitching is an art, and practice is the only way to improve.
What if I pitch and they say no?
Guess what? Before you pitched that client, you didn’t have the job. After you pitched the client…you still don’t have the job.
But now you have data. You have an opportunity to review your letter of inquiry (LOI) and make adjustments. Take that pitch and tweak it for the next client.
Think about it this way: let’s say it will take you 50 pitches to land that first client. The only way to get to pitch #50 is to work your work through pitches #1 – #49, making subtle improvements along the way.
Now when you receive a negative response, you can think to yourself, “Awesome! New information to help me get closer to my ideal client!”
Step 7: Start a blog
While you’re waiting to find your first few jobs, set up a blog on your website and write short search-engine optimized (SEO) articles to showcase your talents. SEO is a highly valuable skill for general health writers. This SEO course is very popular, but there are also many free resources for the beginning writer.
Step 8: Develop your business
As you develop your marketing materials and find your first clients, you can slowly work through a business checklist for freelance nurse writers, like:
- Establishing an LLC
- Setting up a business checking account
- Making a logo
- Streamlining your invoice process
- Learning about self-employment taxes
These tasks can feel daunting, but don’t let them slow you down as you get started. There are many resources available to help with each step of the business development process, including services that will take care of all the business paperwork for you, like LegalZoom or ZenBusiness.
Freelance nurse writing: keys to success
The number one key to developing a successful freelance writing business is consistency. Small baby steps, taken consistently, are the path to success in this career.
It’s also important to keep moving forward. Many nurses get stuck in the research or website phase and never move on to actually pitching clients. It makes sense: as nurses, we tend to be perfectionists, wanting to have all the knowledge and a perfect portfolio before we put our work in front of potential clients.
It can help to set deadlines for specific steps of the process to help you stay accountable to your goals. Connecting with other nurse writers on LinkedIn or through nurse writing courses can also help you stay motivated.
Most importantly, make sure that the learning and admin side of your writing career is balanced with actual work. It’s easy to spend days taking courses, tweaking your website, and listening to podcasts about freelancing and calling it “work.”
And it is! These tasks are necessary and important. But they must be balanced out by the in-the-trenches work of developing a client list, like:
- Researching potential clients on LinkedIn
- Sending LOIs or cold pitches
- Writing clips to share with potential clients
- Reviewing job alerts on freelance sites
If you want to make progress in your career, ensure your work time is evenly balanced between professional development, administrative tasks, and marketing.
Initial investments in your freelance nurse writing career
You can launch a freelance nurse writing career in as little as four to six hours a week on your days off from bedside nursing. Set aside a few hours per week to read about the career, work on your website, or write your clips. In a few months, you’ll be ready to start pitching clients.
Best of all, there’s very little risk or initial investment required, and there’s no need to quit your current job. In addition, the start-up costs for a freelance business are quite low compared to other entrepreneurial careers. Most steps can be completed for free.
Keep in mind that there’s no need to spend a lot of money upfront. Take your time evaluating resources and spread out the costs over several months to avoid risk. Extra costs may include:
- LLC Formation: $80 – $250+ depending on the state and whether you pay for a service to set things up for you
- A business mailbox or PO box: $100+ per year
- Website hosting: $40 – $250+ per year, depending on the service and package you choose
- Design tools or website add-ons: free to around $400, depending on your needs
- Nurse writing course or community: $150 – $1500+
- Membership to freelance job sites: free to $250
- CEUs and nurse license renewal fees (keep your license active!): $80+
Start with free resources, carefully evaluate what tools will actually help you build your business, and assess the potential return on investment for individual courses or services.
When possible, sign up for monthly memberships instead of a full year, even if it means missing out on a discount. This allows you to determine which tools are worth the cost. You will likely discover that you don’t need as many paid resources as you think!
What do you think of freelance nurse writing?
Freelance nurse writing is a hugely varied field with opportunities for all types of nurses with many different goals, from earning a side income to supporting their families and funding retirement.
It’s the perfect fit for nurses who want a job that is flexible, scalable, and portable. It’s a great career option for nurses who frequently move for their partner’s work or for nurses who struggle with typical hospital shift schedules due to family or personal responsibilities.
What do you think of freelance writing? Would you enjoy being your own boss? Share your thoughts in our instagram community!