Once I started freelance writing full-time about this past year, i did son’t have a lot of an idea. I happened to be deciding on whatever leads I may find on sites like Elance and Odesk and attempting to build a portfolio that may get me more simply work. As a result, my focus was scattered: a resume here, a number of blog posts there, the occasional ghostwritten eBook.
This worked, in a way of speaking. But I became losing more bids I had was to bid low and bid often than I was landing—and the main weapon. This is bad not merely for my own important thing but for the freelancer community at large and I knew it. Eventually, though, as I started initially to get steady work with a couple of areas I realized that I had a background i really could draw on that would allow me to specialize.
Before going into freelance writing full-time, I spent a true number of https://essay-911.com years as a study biologist. I originally started on that path because brilliant science writers like Stephen Jay Gould and Carl Zimmer had opened up the realm of the sciences that are natural me with creativity and wit. I experienced finally found something worth going to college for. As an undergraduate I fell in love with Ecology—the branch of biology for creative types—and spent the following years that are few for the reason that world.
After college and a stint in grad school, I quickly realized that there aren’t many jobs for ecologists in the real world, and so I went along to work in various other areas. I did so research in public areas health, infectious disease, and neuroscience, while volunteering utilizing the Audubon Society and in community gardens. All the while I happened to be building a stronger foundation that would help me to eventually find my specialization, although i did son’t know it during the time.
Finding my niche
Fast-forward to about half a year ago, when I realized that the majority of jobs I was landing were in Science and Medical Writing. Not only this, but these working jobs paid in excess of most of the other jobs I was fighting over with other freelancers once we all slashed our bids towards 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 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 these, but immediately saw a much higher acceptance rate. I knew I was one of the most qualified writers in the room, I could spend more time on my proposals and ask for higher rates because I was only applying for jobs in which. I already knew which buzz words would demonstrate that I happened to be comfortable with scientific nomenclature. And clients taken care of immediately that. I occupy a great niche: I’m not a med student seeking to generate income in 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.
There are pitfalls to specializing—and it’s crucial that you avoid them. Do not create your part of expertise so specific that you can only bid on one sort of job. In the place of being just a science writer or perhaps a writer that is medical I’m both. But We 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 also understand biology that is molecular. 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 first rule to being a successful expert science writer could be drawn directly from Evolutionary Biology. Several of the most successful organisms use a technique called optimal foraging behavior: they seek out the meals which they know will provide the biggest payoff, but they are ready to try to find other sourced elements of income for the time being. As an expert science writer, I have a couple of areas which are my specialty, but I’m not above writing a series of gardening guides if I can’t find a big job when it comes to week.
Secondly, know your limitations. As an instance 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, a laboratory procedure for purifying mixtures. I became vaguely familiar along with it, and I had a background in molecular biology techniques like PCR; how hard can it be?
As it turned out liquid chromatography is very complex. And with no direct experience or theoretical training in them, i really couldn’t learn them overnight. It does not matter how much scientific training you 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. Therefore the second rule is: don’t believe that being an expert science writer makes you a Science Expert. Stick to the fields you understand very well, and you will be quality material that is consistently publishing.
Thirdly, often be searching for possibilities to become better at your work. 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 within my area, the good news is as a member regarding the public in the place of a researcher. I never stopped subscribing to magazines that give attention to nature and ecology, and from now on personally i think confident to send query letters in their mind. And organizations such as the National Association of Science Writers have lots of resources for science writers.
Finally, enjoy it. I adore writing, and I also love science. Focusing on science writing has allowed me to take on projects that I find engaging and interesting. I can 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 situated in Chicago. After working as a study biologist in avian ecology, public health, and infectious disease, he gone back to his first love—writing. He contributes content to gardening and science websites. On his blog, jimdaleywrites, he explores the entire process of balancing endeavors that are creative professional freelance writing.