Finding your niche that is writing I Became a specialist Freelance Science Writer22 augusti 2019 Okategoriserade
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 could find on sites like Elance and Odesk and wanting to build a portfolio that may simply get me more work. Because of this, my focus was scattered: a resume here, a number of blog posts there, the occasional ghostwritten eBook.
This worked, in a fashion of speaking. But I was losing more bids than I happened to be landing—and the main weapon I had would be to bid low and bid often. It was bad not just for my own important thing but for the freelancer community in particular and I 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 evolutionwriters in a few areas I realized.
Before 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 realm of the sciences that are natural me with creativity and wit. I had finally found something worth likely to college for. As an undergraduate I fell so in love with Ecology—the branch of biology for creative types—and spent the next couple of years immersed in that world.
After college and a stint in grad school, I quickly realized that there aren’t many jobs for ecologists when you look at the real world, so I decided to go to operate in various other areas. I did research in public places health, infectious disease, and neuroscience, while volunteering with the Audubon Society and in community gardens. Even while I was building a very good foundation that will help me eventually find my specialization, at the time although I didn’t know it.
Finding my niche
Fast-forward to about half a year ago, once I realized that the majority of jobs I was landing were in Science and Medical Writing. Not just that, but these working jobs paid in excess of most of the other jobs I was fighting over with other freelancers even as we all slashed our bids towards the minimum. I already had a portfolio of articles on avian ecology, molecular biology, organic gardening techniques, and health that is public. I experienced real credentials and a resume that is solid. And I could present myself as an writer that is expert these areas. So I rebranded myself as exactly that: a specialist science writer devoted to environmental news, medical writing, research, gardening and green tech.
My proposals became more targeted. I was submitting fewer of them, but immediately saw a much higher acceptance rate. Because I was only applying for jobs for which I knew I became probably one of the most qualified writers when you look at the room, i possibly could save money 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 trying to earn money 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 avoid them. Try not to make your area of expertise so specific that you could only bid on one type of job. As opposed to being just a science writer or just a writer that is medical I’m both. But I have a portfolio that is diverse both 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 health, but also 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 first rule to being a successful expert science writer can be drawn directly from Evolutionary Biology. Some of the most successful organisms use a technique called optimal foraging behavior: they look for the meals that they know will provide the payoff that is biggest, but they are happy to look for other types of income for the time being. As an expert science writer, We have a couple of areas that are my specialty, but I’m not above writing a number of gardening guides if I can’t find a big job for the week.
Secondly, know your limitations. As an incident study, whenever 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 was vaguely familiar I had a background in molecular biology techniques like PCR; how hard could it be with it, and?
Since it ended up chromatography that is liquid highly complex. Along with no direct experience or theoretical training I couldn’t learn them overnight in them. It does not matter how much training that is scientific have various other areas, or how quick an autodidactic study you might be. I ultimately had to cancel that job and lost a client that is potentially long-term. So the second rule is: don’t believe that being a specialist science writer allows you to a Science Expert. Adhere to the fields you know very well, and you will certainly be consistently publishing quality material.
Thirdly, continually be looking for opportunities to become better at your task. I no longer act as a researcher in Ecology and Evolution, but that doesn’t mean I ever lost my love of the subject. I still attend conferences about environmental issues during my area, however now as a known member for the public in place of a researcher. I never stopped subscribing to magazines that give attention to ecology and nature, and today I feel confident to send query letters in their mind. And organizations such as the National Association of Science Writers have a lot of resources for science writers.
Finally, enjoy yourself. I favor writing, and I also love science. Specializing in science writing has allowed us to take on projects that I find intriguing and engaging. I’m able to produce work I’m pleased with, and I’m constantly learning more info on the natural world.
In regards to 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 science and gardening websites. On his blog, jimdaleywrites, he explores the entire process of balancing creative endeavors with professional freelance writing.
You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 Both comments and pings are currently closed.