Halina Zakowicz reports:
"What can you do right now to get started on becoming a successful biotech/science freelance writer? Here are 10 ways in which you can gain experience, credibility, confidence [and] some valuable clips...to move ahead with your freelance writing career...Take a few writing and journalism classes at your school. If that’s not possible, look up online learning sites like Udemy and Khan Academy and sign up for their writing courses. If you have a friend or colleague who is a published writer, ask him or her to critique your work. Don’t downplay this part of the process because all the networking and degrees in the world won’t help you out if you send a sloppy and/or grammatically incorrect resume to a newspaper editor or corporate headhunter...There are plenty of online science and biotech blogs that you can query (i.e., inquire about writing for and provide with a few content ideas). These blogs may not pay money for your content, but they will certainly feature you. If you are employed by a university or company, find out if the institution has a blog and ask if you can contribute to it. Such blogs carry significant weight with clients...The best part about maintaining your own science blog is that, as your writing improves, you can edit the content pieces you’re not too proud of. Nothing that you write for a blog site is 'set in stone', as is the case for print media such as magazines and newspapers...A common writing outlet for the aspiring freelance writer is the so-called 'content mill'. Third[-]party sites like Textbroker and Constant Content pay their freelance writers to create content for specific clients...Just keep in mind that most of these content mills will not feature you or your clips, so they are not ideal for long-term work. Other content mills such as HubPages and the Yahoo! Content Network offer writers exposure and reader feedback as well as a miniscule paycheck via generated page views. These sites are ideal for gauging your audience and for creating content that grabs reader attention. They also allow you to practice SEO and traffic-generating techniques. However, don’t count on these sites over the long-term because they will not provide you with any respectable clips (or a decent paycheck)...If you are serious about becoming a journalist with the likes of the Chicago Tribune, New York Times, Discover, etc., then consider doing a science journalism internship...[K]eep in mind that many journalism internships will require that you move away for at least six months, thus forcing you to interrupt your current work or study program...As with any other profession, your freelance writing success is largely dependent on not just what you know but who you know. However, it’s not enough to simply go to a writers’ or biotech happy hour and hand out your business cards to everyone you meet. Rather, it’s imperative that you focus on meeting and actually getting to know those two or three (and no more) individuals at the networking events you attend...What do you do with all the information that you gather from your networking contacts?...[M]ake it your professional (and personal) mission to always think of at least one or two ways in which everyone you network with can be helped by utilizing your skills or resources. Let service become your underlying motto, regardless of whether (you think) that person will be able to help further your career. Then, tell that person how you might be able to help him or her...Many biotech and science freelance writers worry that, if they don’t take a position that is strictly in the biotechnology or science field, they’ll never be offered work in their area of expertise. However, you can never be too sure what your potential client is looking for...If you take a look at where major corporations hide their technical writers, it’s usually in the marketing department...[C]ompanies know that all the copywriting and copyediting you do for them isn’t worth diddly-squat if it doesn’t generate product sales. Thus, if you’re even remotely considering working for a company as a technical writer, take a few marketing courses and learn e-commerce words/acronyms like SEO, SEM, squeeze page, call-to-action, etc. Identify what factors generate site traffic and page clicks...[S]tart selling your own product. If you have no product to sell, engage in affiliate marketing. But don’t walk into any corporate interview without at least having some idea of why that business is online and on social media and what e-commerce strategies it is using to improve its bottom line. You need to push your freelance writing ROI (another acronym you need to know) because no one else will...All freelance writers, unless they spend their entire lives working for a corporate outfit, must eventually query a magazine/newspaper/blog about publishing an article idea they have in mind. This is also true for biotech and science freelance writers...There are literally thousands upon thousands of books on the topic [of writing a query letter to a publication]. Also, various freelance writers discuss the process and even offer courses on the subject for a fairly low fee...If you don’t learn about the query process and become comfortable with pitching (and re-pitching) content ideas to strangers, you’ll miss out on a big chunk of the freelance writing (money) pie...Your mentor, your colleagues and even your friends may try to dissuade you from becoming a biotech/science freelance writer. Your parents or relatives may wonder why you are throwing away decades of education to sit at home and blog...But if you let these doubts rule your life, you’ll never become a freelance writer...Live your passion and let no one...put your ambitions down."
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