- August 22, 2019
- Comments: 0
- Posted by: adrianash
I didn’t have much of a plan when I started freelance writing full-time about a year ago. I became applying to whatever leads I can find on sites like Elance and Odesk and trying to build a portfolio which could simply get me more work. Because of this, my focus was scattered: a resume here, a series of blog posts there, the ghostwritten eBook that is occasional.
This worked, in a fashion of speaking. But I happened to be losing more bids I had was to bid low and bid often than I was landing—and the main weapon. This was bad not only for my own important thing but for the freelancer community most importantly and I also knew it. Eventually, though, that I had a background I could draw on that would allow me to specialize as I started to get steady work in a few areas I realized.
Prior to going into freelance writing full-time, I spent a true number of years as an investigation biologist. I originally started on that path because brilliant science writers like Stephen Jay Gould and Carl Zimmer had opened within the world of the sciences that are natural me with creativity and wit. I experienced finally found something worth planning to college for. As an undergraduate I fell deeply in love with Ecology—the branch of biology for creative types—and spent the second years that are few in that world.
After college and a stint in grad school, I quickly realized that there aren’t many jobs for ecologists within the real life, and so I went to work in several other areas. I did research in public places health, infectious disease, and neuroscience, while volunteering aided by the Audubon Society and in community gardens. All the while I happened to be building a powerful foundation that would assist me eventually find my specialization, although i did son’t know it at that time.
Finding my niche
Fast-forward to about 6 months ago, whenever I realized that the majority of jobs I was landing were in Science and Medical Writing. Not just that, but these working jobs paid significantly more than most of the other jobs I became fighting over with other freelancers as we all slashed our bids to the minimum. I already had a portfolio of articles on avian ecology, molecular biology, organic gardening techniques, and public health. I experienced real credentials and a resume that is solid. And I could present myself as an expert writer in these areas. So I rebranded myself as exactly that: a professional science writer devoted to environmental news, medical writing, research, gardening and green tech.
My proposals became more targeted. I became submitting fewer of them, but immediately saw a much higher acceptance rate. Because I became only trying to get jobs in which I knew I became one of the most qualified writers within the room, I could spend more time back at my proposals and ask for higher rates. I already knew which buzz words would demonstrate that I happened to be comfortable with scientific nomenclature. And clients responded to that. I occupy a great niche: I’m not a med student looking to make money on the side—I’m a freelance writer. But I’m also not a generalist freelance writer—I’m an expert Science and Medical freelance writer.
You will find pitfalls to specializing—and it is crucial that you prevent them. Try not to create your area of expertise so specific that you can only bid on one type of job. Instead of being just a science writer or simply just a medical writer, I’m both. But We have a portfolio that is diverse both of these areas as well. I have years of experience as a gardener, but am formally trained as an Ecologist. And I also have worked in public places health, but additionally understand molecular biology. I would be severely limited in terms of the jobs that would be available to me if I could only bid on one of these areas.
The rule that is first being a successful expert science writer could be drawn directly from Evolutionary Biology. A few of the most successful organisms use a method called optimal foraging behavior: they look for the meals which they know will provide the payoff that is biggest, but they are willing to try to find other sources of income for the time being. As an science that is expert, I have a couple areas that are my specialty, but I’m not above writing a few gardening guides if I can’t find a large job for the week.
Secondly, know your limitations. A laboratory procedure for purifying mixtures as a case study, when I first rebranded my freelance business, I made the mistake of bidding on a job that was frankly beyond my scope of expertise—liquid chromatography. I was vaguely familiar along with it, and I had a background in molecular biology techniques like PCR; how hard can it be?
Since it turned out chromatography that is liquid highly complex. In accordance with no direct experience or theoretical training inside them evolutionwriters promo code, i possibly couldn’t learn them overnight. It does not matter exactly how much training that is scientific have in other areas, or how quick an autodidactic study you might be. I ultimately had to cancel that job and lost a potentially long-term client. And so the rule that is second: don’t believe that being a specialist science writer makes you a Science Expert. Stay glued to the fields you understand very well, and you’ll be quality material that is consistently publishing.
Thirdly, continually be looking for opportunities to become better at your job. I no longer act as a researcher in Ecology and Evolution, but that doesn’t mean I ever lost my passion for the topic. I still attend conferences about environmental issues in my area, the good news is as a member regarding the public instead of a researcher. I never stopped subscribing to magazines that give attention to ecology and nature, and from now on I feel confident to send query letters to them. And organizations like the National Association of Science Writers have plenty of resources for science writers.
Finally, enjoy it. I love writing, and I also love science. Devoted to science writing has allowed me to take on projects that I find interesting and engaging. I will produce work I’m proud of, and I’m constantly learning more about the natural world.
Concerning the author:
Jim Daley is a freelance writer situated in Chicago. After working as a research biologist in avian ecology, public health, and infectious disease, he returned to his first love—writing. He contributes content to gardening and science websites. On his blog, jimdaleywrites, he explores the process of balancing creative endeavors with professional freelance writing.