Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Consumer Health Writing Home Study Course

Based on the feedback from some of my readers I have put together a Consumer Health Writing Home Study Course.

This is an in-depth, 8-week course with readings and assignments that covers various types of consumer health writing but emphasizes magazine writing.

I have even thrown in a few extras for those who sign up for the course such as a free copy of my ebook Becoming a Medical Writer and some other goodies. Check them out at:

Friday, June 22, 2007

Working as a Medical Writer

Check out this nice little overview of medical writing at, part of the journal Science.

Although the article does not provide specific direction for new or potential medical writers, at least it gives some exposure to our profession.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

More about Health Insurance for Freelance Writers

A post from last month dealt with health insurance options for freelance writers. In the post I mentioned two professional organizations that offer insurance options for their members, the National Writers Union and the National Association of Science Writers.

Well, I just got the latest issue of Writer's Digest magazine and there's an article about the same topic by freelance writer Linda Formichelli. She mentions other organizations that offer similar insurance options:

Formichelli also suggests looking for health insurance plans through your alumni association, your local chamber of commerce, and your state's Farm Bureau. You can approach them as a rightful business owner (which you are!).

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Where do Medical Writers Work?

Medical writers are in great demand today. Although many have chosen the freelance path, others prefer the security of a company job.

If you are a new medical writer you could look for opportunities in these type of companies (click on the links to see a list of them):

Pharmaceutical companies-they research, develop, market, and/or distribute drugs. Some of the major pharmaceutical companies (a.k.a. Big Pharma) in the world are Pfizer, Bristol-Myers Squibb, GlaxoSmithKline, and Sanofi Aventis.

Biotechnology companies-they may also produce drugs but using derivatives of biological systems or living organisms. The leading biotech companies are Genentech, Amgen, and Genzyme.

Contract Research Organizations (CRO)-these are independent contractors that offer their services to pharmaceutical companies—the services include product development and formulation, clinical trial management, data management, preparation of regulatory documents, and more.

Medical Device Companies-they develop instruments or machines intended to diagnose disease or other conditions, or cure, mitigate, treat, or prevent a disease. Examples of devices include cardiac implants, infusion pumps, and elastic bandages. Top medical device companies include Boston Scientific and GE Healthcare.

Medical Communications Agencies-these provide marketing and public relations support to pharmaceutical and medical device companies, targeting both health care professionals and consumers. Some medical communications agencies are Pascale Communications (, Rete Biomedical (, and Complete Healthcare Communications Inc. (

Other organizations that hire medical writers (and which do not need an explanation) are:

  • Associations
  • Clinical practices
  • Foundations
  • Medical publishers
  • Medical schools
  • Patient advocacy groups
  • Government (all levels)
All the best finding your dream job!

Monday, June 11, 2007

Freelancers - How to Make More Money from Clients You Already Have

By Yuwanda Black (Guest Blogger)

Upselling is a skill that most freelancers don't use nearly enough. What exactly is upselling? Simply put, selling a client another, usually closely related product, after you've made an initial sale.

For example, if you complete a brochure for a client, you might pitch them on adding it to their website, in the form of web copy.

When most small business owners outside of the publishing/advertising/communications realm first start to use freelance writers, they have no idea how they can grow their business.

So, it's up to you, the freelance writer (graphic designer, web designer, illustrator) to let them know. All that being said, how do you upsell a client? Following are 3 things I've found that work well for me:

1. Make it a Habit: Most freelancers will finish a project, turn it and say something to the effect of, "Keep me in mind for all your freelance writing needs."

This is not upselling! To effectively upsell, you need to make it a habit, and this means having procedures in place so that you don't forget. A good way to do this is a Project Follow-up Calendar.

What is a Project Follow-up Calendar? It lists specific actions that you take each time you turn a project in. For example, if you vow make three follow-up actions every time you turn a project in, it might look something like this:

2/12: Turn Project in

2/19: Follow up Action #1: Call to make sure all was well with project turned in last week and ask about brochure* I sent along with project. Depending on answer to this, do the following:

2/26: Follow up Action #2: Do follow-up on brochure I re-sent after last week's call

3/5: Follow up Action #3: Touch base to see if they want to move ahead with e-book we discussed last week

*Do a brochure that lists all of your services - and include it with every project you turn in. A week or so after you turn the project in, follow up and ask if they've had a chance to look over the brochure with the other services you offer. If they say no, offer to follow up again in another week or so. [Follow the actions outlined in your project follow-up calendar].

2. Get Specific to Their Business: While including a brochure listing all the services you offer is a great idea, one that works even better in my opinion is to get specific to their business.

Eg, I noticed an article on your website about the benefits of Flood Insurance. Have you ever thought about making this a direct mail piece and/or or a full-fledged e-book detail the pros and cons of this type of insurance?

Research has shown that the more serious prospects are about buying a product, the more information they want about it. Having an e-book and/or mailer done about this can dramatically increase sales.

A 7-page e-book on the above can be completed within a week. It can be a wonderful promotional tool for homeownership seminars, networking conferences, stand-alone giveaways, etc.

I'll follow up in the next three days about this, after you've looked over this project. This type of follow up shows clients that you: i) have researched their business; and ii) are proactive in thinking of ways to help them grow it.

Did you know? NOTHING can happen with a contact unless you stay in touch. Waiting for them to call you is a crap shoot. They may meet another freelancer who does stay in touch, or lose your card, or forget your website.

3. Stay in Contact: Most freelancers - in fact, most small business owners - fall on their sword here.

To repeat, NOTHING can happen with a contact unless you stay in touch. Waiting for them to call you is a crap shoot. They may meet another freelancer who does stay in touch, or lose your card, or forget your website.

The onus is upon you to stay in touch because when someone needs a writer (graphic designer, illustrator, web designer, etc.), you want to be among the first they think of.

Yuwanda Black is the publisher of THE business portal for and about the editorial and creative industries. First-hand freelance success stories, e-courses, job postings, resume tips, advice on the business of freelancing, and more! Commercial Freelance Writing Seminar: Learn how to launch a successful freelance writing career via this informative, one-day seminar. Log on to for full details. Article Source.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Freelance Rates: How much should I charge?

New freelance writers often ask how much they should charge for a particular medical writing project. There is no definitive answer to that: some freelancers charge per hour, others charge per word, and still others charge per project.

I have met medical writers who never charge a flat fee, no matter the project--they think in terms of how much is their time worth. Other writers, however, prefer not to tally hours, but instead put a fixed price on a project--is their decision how many hours to invest in the project.

I believe that the method you choose must depend on your skills, your speed as a writer, and your work habits.

“A slow writer may have a low hourly rate, which would appeal to a client until they get the bill. A faster writer may operate at a premium rate but complete the task in half the time, making him or her cheaper and quicker, which is why you need to talk in terms of the bottom line—the overall cost of the project and the overall benefits to the client.” (Michael Meanwell, The Wealthy Writer, Writer's Digest Books)

Medical writing hourly rates can be as low as $30 and as high as $180, depending on the type of client, the type of work and the duration of the project. For instance, a Big Pharma company would pay more per project than a small company.

But in most cases, clients already have a figure in mind about how much the project costs. With experience, you'll learn how to approach each type of client and assignment and then charge accordingly.

If you want to get an idea of how much to charge for a specific project, consult chapter 18 of Becoming a Medical Writer or look at some rates in the Writer's Market. You may also ask fellow medical writers how much they would charge for that particular project.