How to Become a Freelance Medical Writer

Written by WordPress Enthusiast & Technology Writer

March 11, 2024
How to Become a Freelance Medical Writer

The medical industry is in high demand. There are lots of career opportunities available. If you like writing, becoming a freelance medical writer is one of the most interesting career paths in the medical field.

Becoming a freelance medical writer is a great way to work in the medical industry while running your own business. If you have an entrepreneurial mindset and don’t mind the risks of starting your own business, freelance medical writing might be a great choice for you. In this post, we’ll examine how to become a freelance medical writer to help you launch a lucrative and respected career.

How to Become a Freelance Medical Writer

Medical writing is similar to technical writing. Medical writing includes blog posts, magazine articles, health news, patient educational content, web content, eBooks, booklets, brochures, promotional literature, abstracts, assisting medical workers with papers, and more. All of this writing focuses on the medical field.

Medical writers work in several industries within the medical field. Industries include hospitals, pharmaceuticals, healthcare agencies, health tech firms, journals and publications, healthcare communication agencies, medical devices, medical technology, and lots more.

Becoming a freelance medical writer includes the steps to become a freelance writer in any field, but there are some specific things to keep in mind. For more information about freelance writing in general, see the article How to Become a Freelance Writer.

The rules of freelance writing still apply. Focus on quality writing, do your research, meet deadlines, don’t plagiarize, and produce high-quality document design. Make sure it’s well-written and meets the clients’ guidelines. It must be well-researched and provide good references. High-quality writing will build your credibility and you’ll see more repeat business.

Unless otherwise specified, a freelance medical writer won’t design the final document, but a well-designed document will always be appreciated by the client. A well-designed document has a structure that is easy to read and includes features such as bullets, icons, images, headings, appropriate fonts, etc. The document should be easy for your client to use and understand. Good document design will also help with presentations, which your client may ask you to create, or they might create it using your document.

Now, let’s look at our tips on how to become a freelance medical writer. The tips are in no particular order.

Choose Your Medical Writing Category

Once you decide to become a freelance medical writer, it’s best to choose a specific niche. The medical industry includes a lot of topics. It’s not a good idea to cover everything and provide all types of writing. Choosing a niche lets you focus on specific skills and knowledge. This will help you develop knowledge and credibility, which will help you get more work.

Categories of medical writing include:

  • Medical journalist
  • Educational writer
  • Health writer
  • Medical copywriter
  • Regulatory writer
  • Scientific writer
  • Promotional writer

Choose based on the type of writing that interests you, your current knowledge and skills, the types of clients you want to work for, etc.

Get the Proper Education

Get the Proper Education

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Once you’ve determined the types of medical writing you want to provide, you might need to take a few courses to get the required education.

While you don’t need an advanced degree in medicine to become a freelance medical writer, you will need enough knowledge in the field to establish yourself as a qualified writer. If you know the medical industry, you’ll just need to learn about writing.

Some freelance medical writers have degrees in writing, journalism, or English. These writers use their writing skills and gain knowledge in the medical industry. However, a writing degree isn’t required, either. You just need to be a good writer and understand how writing works.

It’s also helpful to know how small businesses work. You’ll need to manage your small business. You won’t need a degree in business, but it does help to know how to start and operate a business. You’ll need to understand business taxes, advertising, operating costs, etc.

Consider certification courses. Certifications are not required to work as a freelance medical writer, but they do help get you noticed and give you a good foundation of knowledge in the subject matter. You’d stand out from the crowd, and they would help build your credibility.

Once you have the education you need to qualify for medical writing, continue to learn and remain informed about the industry.

Set Your Rates

Setting your rates is important and tricky. You don’t want to undervalue your work, but you’ll also have to be realistic. When you first start as a freelance medical writer, you may have little experience and expertise. Your prices will have to start lower and then you can raise them as you gain experience.

Consider your costs including expenses, taxes, research, writing, editing, etc. Looking at higher-quality job boards is a good way to determine your rates.

Gain Experience

You’ll need experience in both writing and the medical field. The more experience you can gain in both fields the better. Experience in the medical industry is more important than in most other industries for freelance writing.

You don’t need the education or experience of a medical professional, but you need to be familiar with the topic. It can be dangerous to provide misinformation in the medical field, so a high level of knowledge is required.

Experience can include medical documentation and software, working with medical publications, creating documents such as brochures, infographics, and slide decks, working in a medical office, etc. This level of experience will also help you build your network.

Build a Network of Medical Industry Contacts

Build a Network of Medical Industry Contacts

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Networking is one of the most important steps you can take to become a freelance medical writer. It helps you meet others in the industry to learn and get leads from, build your client list, and make connections with other writers in the industry.

Your list of contacts can include anyone who works in the medical field. It should also include recruiters, previous clients, employees of medical companies, industry associations, and other medical freelancers. It’s helpful to connect with other freelance medical writers, as they might send work your way if they have an overflow. In turn, you can do the same for them. This builds trust among writers and helps everyone grow.

Writers’ associations are great for meeting people, furthering your education, gaining certifications, finding jobs, and lots more. Many include workshops, webinars, courses, newsletters, books, and more. Professional writing associations include:

Some of the medical writer’s associations have chapters in specific locations, so there may be a location near you.

This network can inform you when they know of work that you might be interested in. Industry associations can provide the latest industry news, education, and job opportunities.

Don’t ignore anyone in the medical industry. Virtually everyone in the medical industry will need a freelance medical writer or knows someone who needs a freelance medical writer.

Don’t Ignore Related Work

Even related work, such as medical editing, can help you get the experience you need to get started as a freelance medical writer. Related work can also help you build your network and keep you engaged in the medical field.

Remember the Legal Stuff

Depending on your location, there may be some legal issues to consider when starting any freelance business. You may need a business license, and you’ll need to choose the type of business model you want to legally own. Look at sites such as the Small Business Administration to learn more about the legal side of freelancing in your area.

For more information about business licenses, see the article Business Licenses: Do You Need One to Sell Online?

Build a Portfolio

Build a Portfolio

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You’ll need a body of work to show potential clients. The best way to showcase your work is to build a website with a portfolio. Building a portfolio on your website shows the types of services you provide and the quality of your work. These examples will help potential clients decide if they should work with you.

Your portfolio should also include a list of clients and a section for testimonials. This shows that previous clients were willing to work with you, and they enjoyed the process. The goal is to show your work, rather than showcase big names. Your knowledge and writing skills are more important than who you’ve written for. Of course, the more well-known the client, the better.

Even if you’ve never worked with a client, you’ll need to show an example of your work. This will be difficult at first, but there are several possible options. You might be able to show work you’ve done for a previous employer (this may require their permission). Another option is to write something for your blog, or a platform such as LinkedIn or Medium, to show as an example. Pitch ideas to blogs, magazines, etc., to see if you can get something published.

For more information about building a portfolio on your website, see the article How to Make an Impressive Online Portfolio.

Once you have something you can showcase, add it to your portfolio and start looking for work.

Getting Work

Getting Work on Linkedin

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Once you’ve built your portfolio, it’s time to look for work. There are several ways to get work as a freelance medical writer. Some companies post freelance inquiries on their websites. Others use job boards or other types of freelance services.

Ignore job boards that have low-quality jobs with very little pay. Instead, focus on job boards such as NetworkPharma, LinkedIn, ZipRecruiter, Indeed, and similar platforms. Place your contact information and experience on job boards and a company may contact you when they need a freelance medical writer.

Another option is cold-calling or cold emails. Don’t send an email to just any company, or to anyone within a company. For more information on finding someone’s email address, see the article How to Find Someone's Email Address.

Research companies to decide who you’d like to work with as a freelancer. If possible, look at the types of writing they produce to see if they would be a good fit for you. Look for their email address and send a short message. Think of something along the lines of a cover letter. A short message is more likely to be read and they’ll contact you if they want more information. Keep it readable and professional. This will be their first impression of you as a professional writer.

Understand the Work Cycles

Like many industries, freelance medical writing goes in cycles. This means there will be times when there isn’t much work due to holidays, vacations, and other things happening in the industry. There will also be times when there’s too much work due to new products and training, or a boom in the industry.

Be sure to have enough money saved so that you can make it through the slow times. Use that time to build more contacts, learn new skills, gain knowledge of the industry, update your website, portfolio, resume, etc. You should also use this time to find more clients.

Keep Learning

Even after you’ve gotten your freelance medical writing business off the ground, continue to learn and grow. Continue your education in writing, the medical industry, and business. Read books, watch videos, take courses, get certified, or any other type of continuing education that works for you and your schedule.



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Ending Thoughts on How to Become a Freelance Medical Writer

That’s our look at how to become a freelance medical writer. If you have any knowledge or experience in the medical industry, or a desire to learn the skills needed, this writing career might be for you. It’s not easy, but for anyone interested in both writing and the medical field, it might be worth it.

We want to hear from you. Have you started a business as a freelance medical writer? Let us know about your experience in the comments.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I freelance while working a full-time job?

Yes, but ensure it does not conflict with your current job’s terms and conditions. Manage your time effectively to balance both commitments.

Is it necessary to have a contract for each freelance job?

Yes, a contract is advisable for each job to clearly outline the scope of work, payment terms, deadlines, and other expectations.

What are the benefits of freelancing compared to traditional employment?

Benefits include flexibility in work hours and location, the ability to choose projects and clients, the potential for a diverse range of work, and the possibility of higher earnings.

What are the best tools for setting up my freelance business online?

For building a professional website, consider using web hosting services like Verpex Hosting for reliability and ease of use.



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