Medical writing comes in many different forms from the more academically inclined journal writing, to consumer orientated promotional material for pharmaceuticals and medical devices to the informative yet simplistic layout of content writing, whether for print or electronic media. Taking this into consideration – a medical journal writer may not be suited for medical content writing or promotional material copy writing. And vice versa of course. Defining one’s niche is essential to becoming a recognized writer in the industry although many versatile writers can switch between formats to produce quality content time and again.
Getting Started as an Internet Medical Writer
The online market is demanding – both in terms of consumers (Internet users) and clients (webmasters and media agencies). As an online medical writer you have to be prepared to fight for a position in the field without tarnishing your professional image or resorting to unethical practices.
Medical Professionals with Degrees
Firstly, it is important to remember that with the number of medically qualified professionals, from medical doctors to auxiliary health care workers, entering the field of medical writing you will need to have some medical qualification and health care experience to call yourself a medical writer. Gone are the days where you extensive health care knowledge and experience in the medical industry (without clinical experience) gives you the upper edge. Medical doctors are available in the thousands for medical writing jobs on the Internet and clients are aware of this. At best a writer without a medical qualification can pass as a health writer despite belonging to any number of fancy ‘medical writing’ organizations – it just does not matter anymore without that medical degree.
Pen Name or Real Name
Secondly, you have to decide where you as the professional want to associate with certain publications or work under a pen name. Remember that you may want to enter the field of Internet medical writing today but could feel very differently in a few years time when you name is splashed out all over the Internet on websites selling questionable ‘natural health’ products. The problem with using a pen name though is that you may not be able to get into some of the bigger publications who do thorough checks on writers and include a portfolio on each writer. However, jobs with these publications are largely reserved for a select few anyway so it may not be even worth considering.
Once you have verified that you are armed with the degree to your name and decided on how you want to portray yourself, you have to take the next few steps in getting your name out there. This is often the most difficult and disappointing part of medical writing. You can get in with a media agency that is outsourcing content and supplying websites across the Internet but these opportunities are few and far between. Your best bet is to start at the freelance sites like Freelancer or Elance. While there is a fair degree of exploitation on these websites, you have to start somewhere.
Competition is stiff but should you be able to bag a few jobs even if it is for pennies (especially with Freelancer), you have already started developing your profile. Remember to choose a pen name and make it your user name when registering with these website. The best way to secure your first few jobs is not just to undercut prices and clearly indicate that you are a medical professional but also offer the client something in return. Freelancer is known for webmasters who are always looking to save a buck and get as much as content as possible. Should you offer a few extra articles for free on top of the specified amount stated in the project, it is likely that the client may bite.
Creating Your Online Presence as Medical Writer
Once you have completed your first few jobs, you need to define yourself as a competent Internet medical writer. The reality is that writing for the Web is different from writing for other media, even consumer orientated print media like magazines. Make sure that you clearly understand the difference.
Most clients will not publish your work with your name so as to take all the credit. So you may have earned a few dollars here and there and now have some reputability on a few freelance websites but that is where it ends. Your next step is to get your articles published with your name (pen or real name) and for this you can turn to the article directories like Ezine Articles, Hub Pages and Go Articles. It may not be the most prestigious writing gigs but it gets you the exposure you need. Make sure that you start your own blog as a medical writer without delay – you can always get a free blog through Blogger. Link you profile to all these websites with your published articles or user profiles on freelancing websites where you have been awarded work and have a favorable rating.
At this point your should have created your online presence as an Internet medical writer and be ready to take the next step of promoting yourself as a medical writer.