I didn’t have much of a plan when I started freelance writing full-time about a year ago. I happened to be deciding on whatever leads I could find on sites like Elance and Odesk and attempting to build a portfolio which could simply get me more work. Because of this, my focus was scattered: a resume here, a few blog posts there, the occasional ghostwritten eBook.
This worked, in a way of speaking. But I became losing more bids than I happened to be landing—and the main weapon I had was to bid low and bid often. This was bad not only for my bottom that is own line for the freelancer community in particular and I knew it. Eventually, though, as I started to get steady operate in a few areas I realized that I had a background I could draw on that will permit me to specialize.
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 up the world of the natural sciences to me with creativity and wit. I had finally found something worth likely to college for. As an undergraduate I fell deeply in love with Ecology—the branch of biology for creative types—and spent the next few years immersed in that world.
After college and a stint in grad school, I quickly realized that there aren’t many jobs for ecologists within the world that is real so I decided to go to work with many other areas. Used to do research in public areas health, infectious disease, and neuroscience, while volunteering aided by the Audubon Society as well as in community gardens. All the while I happened to be building a good foundation that will help me eventually find my specialization, at is there a website that will write my essay for me for free the time although I didn’t know it.
Finding my niche
Fast-forward to about six months ago, whenever I realized that most jobs I was landing were in Science and Medical Writing. Not just that, but these jobs paid in excess of lots of the other jobs I became fighting over with other freelancers even as we all slashed our bids to your minimum. I already had a portfolio of articles on avian ecology, molecular biology, organic gardening techniques, and public health. I had real credentials and a solid resume. And I also could present myself as an writer that is expert these areas. As just that: an expert science writer specializing in environmental news, medical writing, research, gardening and green tech so I rebranded myself.
My proposals became more targeted. I became submitting fewer of those, but immediately saw a much higher acceptance rate. Because I was only applying for jobs by which I knew I happened to be the most qualified writers into the room, I could save money time on my proposals and ask for higher rates. I already knew which buzz words would demonstrate that I was comfortable with scientific nomenclature. And clients responded to that. I occupy a niche that is great I’m not a med student looking to generate income on the side—I’m a freelance writer. But I’m also not a generalist freelance writer—I’m a professional Science and Medical freelance writer.
You will find pitfalls to specializing—and it’s 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. In place of being just a science writer or just a medical writer, I’m both. But I have a diverse portfolio in these two areas as well. I have many years of experience as a gardener, but am formally trained as an Ecologist. And I also have worked in public health, but additionally understand molecular biology. If I could only bid on a single of those areas, i might be severely limited in terms of the jobs that might be accessible to me.
The rule that is first being a successful expert science writer may be drawn directly from Evolutionary Biology. Several of the most successful organisms use a strategy called optimal foraging behavior: they search for the meals which they know will give you the payoff that is biggest, but are ready to try to find other sourced elements of income in the meantime. As an expert science writer, We have a couple of areas which can be my specialty, but I’m not above writing a series of 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 became vaguely familiar along with it, and I also had a background in molecular biology techniques like PCR; how hard could it be?
Because it turned out chromatography that is liquid highly complicated. Along with no direct experience or theoretical training in them, i possibly couldn’t learn them overnight. It does not matter just how much training that is scientific have in other areas, or how quick an autodidactic study you may be. I ultimately needed to cancel that job and lost a potentially long-term client. So the rule that is second: don’t believe that being an expert science writer makes you a Science Expert. Adhere to the fields you know very well, and you will certainly be consistently publishing quality material.
Thirdly, often be in search of opportunities to become better at your job. I no longer work as a researcher in Ecology and Evolution, but that doesn’t mean I ever lost my love of the niche. I still attend conferences about environmental issues in my own area, but now as a member of the public in the place of a researcher. I never stopped subscribing to magazines that concentrate on ecology and nature, and from now on personally i think confident to send query letters to them. And organizations just like the National Association of Science Writers have a lot of resources for science writers.
Finally, enjoy it. I like writing, and I also love science. Specializing in science writing has allowed me to take on projects that I find intriguing and engaging. I will produce work I’m pleased with, and I’m constantly learning more about the natural world.
About the author:
Jim Daley is a freelance writer based 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 endeavors that are creative professional freelance writing.