As the world of wellness booms, so does the demand for health writers. Many practitioners graduate and figure out that full-time clinic isn’t for them, and turn to health writing as an alternative. But should you become a health writer, and how the hell do you do it? Let me walk you through it.
How To Become A Health Writer
Start by writing
This might seem obvious. But you’re not going to be much of a writer if you haven’t done it before. Even if you have a background in some form of writing, such as journalism, writing health content is a whole ‘nother beastie. It’s more of a conversation with the reader that empowers them to take action with their health.
You can begin by writing on your own website about the topics that light you up. Consider doing some guest blogs on other wellness-related sites for some variety. There are also websites like Thrive Global that you can submit articles to. But you can’t truly know for sure if you want to become a health writer unless you actually sit down and try it!
Decide on your niche
Within the world of health writing, there are many sub-niches to navigate through. You can choose to work across them, but it’s good to target most of your effort to the one that you enjoy most. If you love geeking out over breaking research, academic writing might be something to explore. But if you prefer chatting to the reader as I do, you might be better off doing less formal writing. And believe me, there are plenty of companies and businesses out there that need content in the health realm!
You’ll also want to think about whether you niche down to a modality or two. Personally, I write for anyone who falls into the wellness industry, and have even written for a wellness photographer and a tech guru who works with practitioners. But if your eyes glaze over when you write about healthy muscles or the importance of working out, writing for a myotherapist or PT might not be for you.
It’s also good to think about who your ideal client might be. Many of my clients are health practitioners, and I love working with small business. But I have also written for supplement companies across the globe, and although I can’t name names cos #ghostwriterlife, a current client of mine is a major supplement company in the UK.
Build up your portfolio
There’s not much point in wanting to become a health writer and approaching clients if you are not, in fact, a health writer! Everyone, from solo biz owners to massive supplement companies, wants to see that you can write before they hand over their hard-earned cash.
This is where the writing in step 1 will help. You will ideally have samples from websites other than your own. I wrote several articles for Endeavour College of Natural Health as part of my effort to build a portfolio.
Remember to write about topics that fit in your niche area. Although I write many articles about health writing, I also continue to write nutrition articles. This showcases the areas that I can write about for future writing clients.
If you have ghostwritten an article on a site and you wish to share it on your portfolio, make sure you get the ok of that client first.
Want to check out my (sorely neglected, but still good) health writing portfolio? Pop on over here.
Market the shiz out of yourself!
It’s pretty common for people who are in the healing industry to feel icky about marketing themselves. But if you become a health writer, it’s actually your job to be the marketer for others in the industry! So it’s time to get comfortable with marketing yourself.
I don’t mean that you need to shove yourself down peoples’ throats and push yourself on clients that don’t really need you or can’t really afford you yet. But you do need to be vocal to stand out from the crowds, and you need to be confident in what you’re offering.
Figure out where your ideal client is hanging out. Are they in Facebook groups, or are they scrolling through LinkedIn? Wherever they are, go there, and share your knowledge. Offer tips, inspire them, and educate them about what they want to know. Just like any other industry, people won’t pay you for info – they’ll pay you for service. So make yourself that person that everyone thinks of when they think of ‘health writer’.
Figure out your worth as a health writer
There’s a decent chance that if you become a health writer, you’re going to come up against the money issue. It’s very easy to underprice yourself at first, and I was no exception to this. The first few articles I wrote were only about $20AUD each for 500-1000 words. Now to be honest, these did serve a purpose, because they helped to build up my portfolio and build my confidence.
But then I did the math. It turned out that it was more financially worthwhile working an extra shift at Petbarn instead of writing a few articles! So I had to adjust my prices to change that.
Try timing yourself when it comes to writing articles. Say it takes you 60 minutes to write one article. Have a think about what the minimum hourly wage you’d like to earn – for example, $40 per hour.
But then: remember you’re self-employed! So you need to pay super (I use Grow Super to pay mine), tax and biz expenses as well as yourself! That means you need to double that rate to include all of those extras. That comes to a minimum price of $80 per article if you want to pay yourself $40 per hour.
If you’re only charging $30 per article right now, don’t panic. You can slowly up your price every 3-6 months, and offer small discounts for current clients or packages to encourage them to lock you in. 12 months ago I was charging $30 per article, and now my articles go for $150-250 on average.
When I became a health writer, I had zero knowledge about SEO, Google-friendly articles, readability, marketing and so on. I couldn’t even explain to a client why blogging was important for their biz! But I kept educating myself. I read books, I read blogs and I followed some amazing biz mentors who have my sort of approach to marketing and sales. And now I can explain things like SEO and how to educate a reader about what the real issue is for them using articles.
So keep learning – it will only make you a better writer.
If you’re not sure how to become a health writer, work with a health writing mentor
At the end of the day, if you want to become a health writer, it can be damn hard work. And sometimes, you will want to give up. Other times, you might hit a brick wall and not know where to go.
This is where working with someone who is in the biz can make all the difference. Experienced writers have connections, and they have plenty of ideas that they’ve had but never followed. And one of those connections or ideas might be a great fit for you!
In fact, it’s common for more experienced health writers to come across people who need a writer, but isn’t the right fit for some reason. I’ve had to turn away clients before because it wasn’t my area of genius, or because I was overbooked.
Want to become a health writer? Want some extra support on your journey?
I offer mentoring services for aspiring health writers across the globe. To book in your mentoring session, head here.