Ever since I outed myself as a freelancer and speaker, my inbox has been filling up with questions. Questions from people just like you – health practitioner, health students, or even just people with an interest in wellness, wanting to know who I am, what I do, and how I got here.
So I reached out to you all, to find out what you really want to know. You asked the questions, and so here are your answers – honest, true, with warts and all.
How did you start out?
I started like many people do – clumsily and full of mistakes, but full of hope. I always believe it’s the best way to start any new adventure!
To be honest about the writing side of my career – it was not somewhere I was aiming to end up, but rather somewhere that my passion took me naturally.
Then somehow, I found out about freelancing platforms and sites that list reporters looking for expert advice and input. So I started to play around with those.
I got very lucky with freelancing. My first project was with a wonderful client based in New Zealand. He wanted me to write an ebook on low-carbohydrate high-fat diets for health and weight loss. Although it took me months to write, it was enough to make me realize that I didn’t want this as a side gig. I wanted to get paid to share my knowledge across the world.
Now, I have a mix of clients from freelancing websites and from word-of-mouth contacts. Every week is different, which is what I love about it.
2018 Update: I now rarely work through websites, almost all of my clients are word-of-mouth!
Do you have any advice for those who are looking to start out?
The truest advice that I can offer is this: don’t get caught up in your head about what you want to do, to the point where your heart loses out.
After years of discussing with my friend and osteopath about the concept of working with chronic pain clients, and researching new benefits of health, and changing the world, I threw myself down that road… only to find out that it was wrong.
The dream wasn’t the problem, it was the specifics. The truth is, clinic is hard work. Specializing in chronic pain is even harder. And doing both on top of a connective tissue disease is living hell.
So after I figured out that my heart was begging me to stop and reconsider my body’s needs, I cut my losses. I dropped my clinic hours down, eventually wrapping up my contract in Camberwell. Finally, I focused on what made me light up inside – writing.
A new career path will always be a little bumpy. But if it reduces you to tears or is bad for your health, it’s time to hit the road.
How do you advertise yourself? I know it needs to be done, but it feels so icky and false…
There’s only one hard and fast rule when it comes to advertising yourself as a wellness professional: be authentic.
I know you might’ve been expecting a lecture on Facebook vs Instagram, and web design, and SEO. But the truth is, those aren’t my specialty areas and I haven’t used them much to get where I am.
Despite that, I have built up a thriving business and a passionate following of over 1000 loyal fans – because I have been authentic.
I share with genuine enthusiasm. I talk about my passions to anyone who stands still near me for long enough.
With that being said, the two practical things you will want to do is get yourself a professionally designed webpage, and set up a Facebook page where you can share information. The world relies on social media. If you don’t exist online, 95% of your potential clients will never find you.
Facebook is pretty easy to set up – have a play with it, and share your favourite articles, thoughts, infographics and pictures. You don’t need to be super professional – be yourself!
While you can DIY a website on numerous website building sites… I really don’t recommend it. I did that for the first year, and my site looked like ass and definitely didn’t reflect me.
Thankfully, I found a designer who took the incoherent jumble of thoughts out of my head and transformed it into a fully functional and beautiful site that really reflected me.
2018 Update: My web designer is no longer in the biz. I recommend Shonelle from Tech For Pracs as a go-to for website design!
Where do you get your inspiration from? I’ve always wondered what happens when you’re asked to write for someone but struggle to come up with a concept…
There’s inspiration all around us! Life is a beautiful place, and there are beauty and creativity triggers everywhere we go. Unfortunately, when you’re stuck in writer’s block, that doesn’t help. So here are some more of my practical tools.
Firstly, I meditate. This is my number one go-to tool for so many health reasons, but also for one simple fact – when I stop myself from consciously thinking and forcing the situation, my natural flow of creativity returns.
Meditation doesn’t have to be done in uncomfortable positions on wooden floors. You can meditate anywhere you go, especially with apps such as Smiling Mind.
Secondly, if meditation doesn’t do the job, I get out of the house, or into the water. Some of my best career moves have been born of a little lightbulb that pinged up while I was walking my dog around the local streets, or pondering life in the shower (don’t judge me – we all do it!)
Get yourself out into nature – it’s far more inspiring than any other app, article or gadget every could be.
Finally, I like to keep a list of topic areas and ideas on hand, both for my own writing and for potential client articles. Whenever I read an interesting article, I’ll scribble down the topic. Then I see what different take I could have on it, or if there’s something I felt the article could have covered better.
If I want to be a health and wellness writer, should I study a wellness degree, or a communications degree?
This really depends on you, and what your skills are like right now. If I had to pick all over again, I would still do my degree in nutrition at Endeavour – it gave me a fantastic base for wellness knowledge, not only on the topic of food, but of supplements, lifestyle and mindset.
I can also tell you that there is a HUGE demand for qualified nutritionists, naturopaths and more in the freelancing world. If I wanted, I could work 60 hour weeks and still have to turn down potential clients and opportunities. We have unique training that allows us to cut through the bull of the showy headlines and talk about what really works.
Writing is something that can improve with practice and passion. A communications course can certainly refine that – which is why I’m considering some post-graduate study – but it’s a lot easier to write well if you know a lot about the topic.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to become a health and wellness speaker?
I’m still only a baby in the field of wellness speaking, compared to the rest of my business. But there are a few tidbits I have learned along the way.
Firstly, go to the events you want to speak at! Go to seminars, to festivals, to gatherings. They are packed full of inspiration, you will pick up little ideas and tips from the speakers. You may even end up chatting to the event organizers about your own passion.
Think about who you can reach out to and take the first step with. No one walks onto a stage with thousands of adoring fans as their first gig. Maybe you can run workshops and talks for free at your local community centre. Run a small event in conjunction with another local business. If you’re an Endeavour graduate, you can reach out to Career Services and offer a webinar topic to speak on.
Most importantly – find your own voice and passion. If your story isn’t genuine, or you’re just regurgitating someone else’s line, it’ll come across as uninspiring and dull. If it’s infused with passion and a genuine desire to help people, opportunities will come flowing soon enough!