How to Become a Medical Copywriter - Quick Start Guide
You’re interested in a non-clinical job and dreaming of remote work as a medical copywriter...
But is it actually possible?
You're in the right place to find out.
Let me guess, you’ve heard about clinicians going into writing, copywriting, or other online businesses. And you’ve watched as they seemed to actually succeed in their new careers.
✨ If others can do it, why not you? ✨
The idea of working from home, traveling, making your own schedule, and having weekends and holidays off is sounding better and better, right?
Imagine dropping the ever-increasing productivity demands, late-night documentation, and lack of raises.
Just think of trading the unpredictability of low-census days for a job where you have more control over your workflow and schedule.
You’ve poured yourself out during your years in healthcare.
Can anyone blame you for wanting to reduce your clinical hours?
No. Nobody can blame you. The healthcare system has a way of chewing us up and spitting us out. It's not exactly what you thought you were getting yourself into when you were accepted to grad school, right?
There are numerous opportunities for clinicians to work online as medical copywriters.
Just think of all the medical companies in your city or state. People need to find those companies online, and companies benefit from writers with REAL experience in the medical field.
There are also loads clinicians starting online businesses. These online clinicians need copywriting to ensure their website is found on Google.
This is a great time to become a medical copywriter.
What's the Salary For a Medical Copywriter?
This is often the first question clinicians ask when considering the switch to medical copywriting.
Let’s be honest – you didn’t go through years of school, take on thousands in student loans, and spend hours refining your craft to earn minimum wage.
Your skills and experience are valuable!
It’s worth your time to find the right setting and fit for your copywriting career. You can be paid well, have more time, and leverage your professional experience and skills as a medical copywriter. (Or you can be paid pennies on the dollar if you find crappy writing gigs -- don't do that!)
Here are some industry averages for medical copywriting salaries:
Indeed.com reports the average salary of a general copywriter as $52,343. Salaries range from $70,000 to over $100,000 for copywriters working at the top companies.
Salary.com allows a more specific search for “healthcare copywriter” and reports the average salary is between $59,000 and $74,000.
Glassdoor reports jobs at $97,000 – $103,000
The salary for medical copywriting depends on the companies you work for, and the value you can bring to them.
The industry is highly variable regarding what you can make. There's no insurance companies capping your income or negotiating rates.
Don’t settle for low-paying copywriting jobs.
Salary ranges for medical copywriters probably don’t include freelance copywriting either. If you start your own business, you set your prices and often out-earn what a company will pay, since there are fewer overhead costs.
How Do I Get Paid As A Medical Copywriter?
When starting your journey as a medical copywriter, you have the choice of seeking employment with a company or starting your own business.
You can be an employee or a freelance/contract copywriter. We expand on both below.
The way you get paid will be different depending on your choice. There are pros and cons to each option, and ultimately you have to choose what works best for your situation, your personality, and your lifestyle.
Becoming an Employee Copywriter
This option is most like clinical care. You will be an employee, have a job description, and meet deadlines that are set by the company.
The deadlines and projects may feel a bit like the familiar productivity demands. Just like clinical documentation, your writing gets faster with experience. You’ll also have team meetings to attend and coworkers to communicate with.
If you need benefits and a guaranteed income, working with a company may be a good choice - although is anything in life guaranteed? You’ll be paid hourly or salary depending on the company.
Freelance Medical Copywriting
As a freelance writer, you start and own your business and pay yourself.
This is the path I chose, because when I envisioned remote, non-clinical work, I craved flexibility. I didn't want a remote job that would chain me to my desk from 9-5. I joined a writing group and launched within 4 months - read how here. (Update - there is now a call to join this program. Don't let this deter you, the goal behind it is to make sure it's an excellent fit. Sarah doesn't want to sell this program to people who won't benefit from it. Which makes me love it all the more! Learn more about the updates here.)
Starting a small freelance business is not as difficult as it may seem. However, you are responsible for your own benefits, taxes, schedule, and client acquisition - so you want to do it right.
As a freelance copywriter, you can charge per word, per hour, a flat rate for projects, or a percentage of sales created by your copy. You get to choose.
After completing market research, and taking advice from seasoned copywriters in a group like Write Your Way to Freedom (WYWTF), you’ll have a guide for your starting prices. You set your prices on your website and outline them in your contract.
Your starting prices won’t be your prices forever. As you gain experience, testimonials, and data that show the effectiveness of your copywriting – you’ll be able to raise your prices.
You’ll also expand your package offerings and work with larger clients. This increases your income while reducing the number of clients you’re juggling and communicating with. (Improving your productivity - to bring it back to clinical lingo.)
Blogs, for example, may pay $30 or $2000+ depending on the client, the content, and the quality. (Psst… you’re not going to write $30 blogs.) Copywriting for web pages can cost a few hundred dollars up to thousands of dollars.
The amount you charge depends on your skills, confidence, and clients.
Sales pages or ads are occasionally paid as a percentage of the profit the page generates. If you choose this method of payment, make sure the details and tracking system are defined in your contract. You don’t have to accept any job or any method of payment – as a business owner you have a choice.
The easiest way to get paid as a freelance copywriter is to charge a flat rate for a specific project. You outline the approximate number of words and exactly what the project includes – then you set your price. Your client knows exactly what they’re spending and what they’re getting.
Clarity and transparency with pricing are key.
Freelance Copywriting Gives You Control - You Choose The Projects, Companies, and Impact You Have.
As a freelance medical copywriter, you set your deadlines, project scope, and payment. You also choose to work for companies that align with your values. You should decline work if the project doesn’t align with your personality, beliefs, or your brand.
For example, if a company requested copywriting, but they promote a diet that you know can cause long-term health consequences, decline the project!
❌ Don’t write quality copy for crappy companies.
✅ Write for companies that align with your values and interests.
Don’t be afraid to decline projects that don’t feel right – accepting them will only create a headache as you try to force yourself to complete the project.
Freelance copywriting allows greater flexibility in your schedule. Your income and hours will fluctuate, especially at first. Consistent client acquisition strategies will help maintain consistent work. Once you have a solid client base, you can incentivize referrals so your clients market for you.
How Soon Can I Replace My Healthcare Salary with Copywriting?
How fast you earn money as a healthcare copywriter depends on your skillset and how much time you have to devote to your copywriting. It also depends on the types of clients and projects you seek.
Low-paying job boards or one-off writing projects make it harder to replace your clinical salary. Providing comprehensive packages increases your income and reduces your client outreach.
I worked part-time while starting my copywriting business. You can read more about my journey HERE, where I also outline how much money I earned each month as I started my business.
Psst… you can likely earn faster than me. I was writing part-time, homeschooling full-time, and working at the hospital! 🤯
Nobody can guarantee your income as a freelance medical copywriter. If anyone is guaranteeing big-money super fast, you should question their authenticity.
Your success is in your hands. This is the beauty and the struggle of owning your own business.
Finding a network, learning how to market yourself, refining your copywriting skills, and diversifying your skillset ensures you provide excellent value to your clients. When you provide results for your clients, it justifies premium prices.
As you provide genuine value to your clients and help them grow their businesses, you build a reputation and get referrals. Then your business really takes off. 🚀
The Write Your Way to Freedom course includes modules dedicated to client acquisition and getting your business started.
You don’t have endless time or money. Creating a profitable business model is imperative. Invest a little in the right course, and it will pay off.
What’s the Best Way To Quickly Become a Medical Copywriter?
This is another question people ask frequently when looking into starting a medical copywriting business. As medical professionals, it’s hard to start over in a new career. It's also natural to want to become competent as fast as possible. (Clinicians are known for pushing for personal growth – it’s a good thing.)
Here are a few ways to get you started as a medical copywriter quickly:
1. Take a Trusted Course that Sets You Up for Copywriting and Business Success
Copywriting is a specific skill set that you didn’t learn in college or graduate school.
Copywriting courses often include a community of writers going through the same process, or who are a few steps ahead.
A good course will give you direction about the legalities of starting your own business. You’ll need contracts, secure payment methods, and knowledge of tax requirements.
The course should include a coach or a guide who’s available to answer questions along the way.
It’s possible to learn copywriting from books and free content online, however you’ll be losing valuable time as you sift through everything and decide what’s good or bad advice.
I recommend Write Your Way to Freedom (WYWTF). It teaches you everything you need to know about copywriting, and it provides valuable business insight and support.
Most people in the WYWTF group are starting independent copywriting businesses. Occasionally, there are posts from group members who intended to start their own business, then were offered a job as a staff copywriter.
Either way, you’ll have the skills, confidence, and tools to start your copywriting career quickly when you have WYWTF in your toolbox.
I love her heart and integrity. Here's my full course review. <3
2. Use Job Boards to Find Freelance Medical Copywriting Projects
Job boards are a place where companies post projects or jobs when they are looking for a freelancer to get a task done quickly and at a low cost.
Upwork or Fiver are two commonly used job boards for freelance work. The problem is these two job boards have low-paying jobs. (But... if you start your own business, you can monitor these job boards and learn which companies to reach out to and offer your higher-level services.)
Companies know they can post on job boards and have people compete for the project, meaning they can pay less and still get the work done. These companies either don’t understand quality marketing, or they don’t have the money to invest in copy.
You typically need a portfolio to get jobs from job boards. You can create this yourself as long as you can find places to accept your guest posts or articles. There are many free places to post online to get your portfolio started.
Although some people succeed on job boards, it’s my opinion that job boards are often a race to the bottom. There is a lot of competition, and companies posting to job boards are looking for content instead of quality, impactful copywriting. Job boards have low-paying jobs that don’t compare to your clinical salary.
3. Subcontract Under Other Medical Copywriters
Some medical copywriters need to subcontract work.
If you can build a connection and trust, you can gain experience in another copywriter’s business.
Copywriters may be more likely to accept you as a new writer because of your clinical background.
If a copywriter needs an article written about something that is your area of clinical expertise, your services will be valuable and can offset the extra time it takes to hire an inexperienced writer.
This can be a great place to start as a beginner because you will have an experienced writer giving advice and mentoring you. If you are in the process of starting your own business, this also gives you experience with your onboarding process, systems, Zoom calls, contracts, and negotiating pay.
A drawback to subcontracting is not earning as much, since the business owner takes a cut of the profits to cover their time and business expenses. You may also have less consistent work – when things get slow, you won’t get projects.
Benefits to subcontracting include not worrying about client outreach, discovery calls, or strategizing projects. Once you establish the relationship with the other writer, you just write and submit the pieces they ask for.
4. Search for Medical Copywriting Jobs with Agencies or Companies
You can also modify your resume, create a portfolio, and apply for medical copywriting jobs with a company or agency.
Perks to becoming a medical copywriter employee include benefits, consistent income, and stability. You also won't need to complete client outreach and acquisition with your personal social media accounts. You also may be able to work remotely and gain location independence.
The drawbacks to this method include having difficulty landing the first job because of a lack of formal writing experience. Many companies ask for years of experience and don’t count documentation or personal blogging in this experience.
Another potential drawback is a glass ceiling that’s lower than many medical jobs. You’ll also have a set schedule, deadlines to meet, and no ability to adjust your workflow based on your family or life needs.
Some companies require marketing or writing degrees, which will not help you complete your career pivot to healthcare copywriting quickly and cost-effectively.
Can I Start A Medical Copywriting Business While I’m Still Working?
The short answer is Yes – it’s a lot of work, but working full-time while starting a business is possible.
Only you know the best option for yourself to balance work and your home and family life.
Many people start a medical copywriting business while working because they need steady income before leaving a clinical job. Look at your savings, bills, insurance, family, and health as you navigate the decision to start a medical copywriting business.
Starting a business requires time, planning, and energy. If you continue to work full-time while you start your business, expect to dedicate your evenings and weekends to your business.
Even a few hours a week will set you on a path to success with medical copywriting.
If you choose to work full time plus start a business, remember that the hustle and weekend work is temporary. As soon as you’re earning money through your copywriting business, you can taper your clinical work. Start making a plan for transitioning away from working two jobs.
The goal of WYWTF is to train impactful, profitable writers.
Your relationship with your current employer and your financial situation impact how you transition out of clinical care. Check if you can reduce your clinical hours slowly, switch to part-time, quit your job completely, pick up a PRN job, or work full-time while starting your business.
Maintaining a part-time or PRN job allows you to maintain your clinical skills and license, have an additional stream of income, and maintain relationships with employers in your area should you choose to return to clinical care.
What if my employer finds out I’m starting a business or want to leave?
Members in the writing group often ask about keeping their business start-up secret or worry about being laid-off when their employer finds out they’re interested in switching careers.
This question is asked often, however it seems that the worry is typically unwarranted. Think of your writing business as a side-hustle to start. If it’s not impacting your performance at work, it shouldn’t matter what you do in your free time.
As your business grows and you need to adjust your hours or give your notice, your future self will be prepared to handle the conversation.
Good employers don’t have an interest in keeping you in a job where you’re not fulfilled. Good managers desire growth for their employees – even if that means losing them. If your employer or manager gives you grief for leaving or tries to guilt you into staying at your job, then it’s a sign it's not the best place to work anyway.
Keep a positive attitude and maintain a good relationship as much as possible as you leave your clinical job.
When I was starting my business, I was worried about my boss and coworkers finding out. I worried because there was not another occupational therapist in our county that would take my caseload.
I stressed about the impact on clients and coworkers. As my business grew and I was unavailable for PRN shifts, I had to fess up to my employer and coworkers.
I shared my excitement for my new venture with them. I shared stories about the amazing therapy-related companies that I was working with and promoting. They were sad I was leaving, but there were no hard feelings. They were actually excited to hear about this idea, and genuinely happy that things were working out.
Everything I had worried about with the transition wasn’t even a problem.
Also – if you’re unhappy at work, chances are everyone already knows it. If your co-workers are friends, they’ll want to see you happy and fulfilled.
Do I Need Another Degree to Switch from Healthcare to Medical Copywriting?
You do not need another degree to start your own medical copywriting business.
You may need an additional degree or credentials if you choose to work with a large company or advance into a management role. Check specific job requirements to learn what degrees the company you’re interested in is looking for.
While you don’t need a degree, additional training is useful because you are learning a new skill set. Just like continuing education courses, specialized training in copywriting and marketing will allow you to better serve your clients.
The knowledge gained from WYWTF combined with your clinical expertise is more than enough to position you ahead of many general copywriters.
Also remember – online credentials or certificates are not regulated by any governing body, so they are not actually meaningful or necessary. Your clients want to know that your writing is good, you can produce outcomes for their company, and that you understand their vision. Your clients don’t care too much about what letters are after your name.
What if You Feel Guilty Leaving Healthcare to Become a Copywriter
Change is hard. Transitions are difficult. If you’ve read this far, chances are you’re pretty committed to finding something different. It’s time for a career pivot and to commit to improving things for yourself.
If you’re burned out and frustrated at work, you should respect yourself and explore another option. Clinicians are helpers by nature, so it's natural that you feel guilt for desiring a different line of work.
You are more than your job.
You have the right to choose a career that fits your personal needs, your family's needs, and your health needs. Just because you’ve worked in the medical field for years doesn’t mean you have to stay forever.
Finding a supportive group of people in a similar situation helps you succeed. Reframing your mindset around your job and purpose in life will also bring success in medical copywriting.
Speaking of changing your mindset…
Here’s a sneak peek into how a perspective shift can help you succeed in your new career as a medical copywriter.
Writing is your new way to improve and impact people’s lives. 👇🏼
You create helpful, accurate, life-changing information for people who are looking for answers.
You provide content that outranks older, inaccurate resources so people get updated and researched answers to their questions.
You connect people who are struggling with the businesses that provide services and solutions to their problems through medical copywriting.
People live better lives when they access information and solutions that keep them safe and healthy.
Do you see how reframing your thoughts can reduce your guilt and provide purpose to your day?
You are not only writing for the sake of earning money.
As a medical copywriter, you’re improving lives, connecting people to services, and increasing access to the best information.
Do you still feel guilty about leaving clinical care? (Psst… the answer should be no.)
Also… you can always return to clinical care in the future if you choose to, or keep that PRN job for some patient contact. Leaving clinical care can be a short-term or long-term choice.
No matter what, you’re not stuck where you are.
What are the Barriers to Succeeding in Medical Copywriting as a Clinician?
It’s natural to try to think of all the things that will hinder you from succeeding in your medical copywriting career. After all, clinicians are masters at identifying and assessing risks right?
You’ve been in your field for a while now, maybe you even have advanced credentials.
Starting over and learning a new skill set seems daunting.
You have loads of skills that help you in medical copywriting. (I’ll expand on those in the next section – the list is extensive. Let’s look at those potential barriers first.)
The #1 thing that will slow you down as a copywriter is your mindset around your success and abilities.
Don’t skip the important work to improve your mindset as you transition into this new career. If you don’t believe it’s worth it, go check the research on positive thinking and affirmations for yourself.
Your Mindset Could Limit Your Success as a Medical Copywriter – But It Doesn’t Have To
You’ll have guidance in WYWTF to work on:
✨ Banishing self-doubt so you can confidently pitch your services.
✨ Setting firm boundaries around project scope and price.
✨ Learning the value of your craft, and confidently stating that value.
✨ Trusting that you’re providing a valuable service that has a great impact.
✨ Knowing your value without having a credentialing organization give you a title.
✨ Overcoming perfectionism. It’s a barrier to growth and you’ll only succeed once you’ve overcome this issue.
✨ Squashing guilt.
The clear, helpful information you create has a significant impact on the lives of patients.
You’ll release the guilt and thrive in medical copywriting once you see your impact.
That's truly the largest barrier to clinicians success with copywriting. You're a high achiever and have been steeped in a culture where you follow specific protocols rather than experimenting. You'll have to overcome the medical culture and embrace more creativity and experimentation as you grow as a copywriter.
What Makes Clinicians Excellent Medical Copywriters?
You may not realize how many skills carry over from the medical field to copywriting and marketing.
Problem-solving skills – You interview business owners, assess their needs, and create a plan of action.
Advanced knowledge – Even though you don’t need an advanced degree to be a copywriter, it sure does help to have specialty clinical knowledge, especially when you’re writing for medical companies.
Clinical experience – All those years treating patients will provide you with valuable examples that you can use in your writing. You provide a lived experience and unique insight that allow your client’s products or services to shine at their full value.
Building rapport – Copywriting involves connecting with people and understanding their desires. Therapists are experts at this. You won’t even know you’re doing it because the therapeutic use of self comes so naturally.
Summarizing information – All that medical documentation experience will serve you well when you organize information into an understandable document. You can even voice text your blogs and web pages if you’re used to dictation software.
Passion to help people – Medical copywriting connects people to the solutions that they need. It may be a product, service, clinician, or group. When you’re copywriting in the medical space, you are helping people find the solutions to their problems, which is what you’ve always done best.
Strong ethical sense – You won’t write for businesses that are shady or don’t provide true solutions. Your ethics will guide you to the companies that provide genuine, research-backed, life-changing solutions. Use your clinical knowledge to bring that company to the next level.
There are hundreds of nurse writers out there, why not more therapist writers?
How to Choose the Best Copywriting Course
Comprehensive content – Make sure the course teaches you how to write blogs, websites, sales pages, funnels, social media, landing pages, white pages, etc. You don’t want to pay for a course and then find out it doesn’t cover the areas of copy you end up finding most interesting.
Lifetime access – You may not think you’d need lifetime access to a course, however life happens, challenges arise, and you may not complete the course on the timeline you initially hope for. When you have lifetime access, you can rest assured that you can come back to copywriting when the time is right without paying for the course again.
Excellent reviews – read the reviews and search online for opposing views on the course. Connect with people who are currently in the course and see what they say.
A community – Viewing an online course is great, but you’ll have questions, concerns, and need a boost occasionally along your journey. There are always valuable ideas, tricks, and resources being shared in the WYWTF group. Joining a course that has a group or community will give you an advantage over copywriters who are only consuming content.
No “Get Rich Quick” promise – Your outcomes and earnings can not be guaranteed by anyone. There are so many factors that play into your success as a copywriter, and a course is only one of them. If someone is promising you’ll earn tons of money without much work, they’re lying to you – scratch them off your list.
Q & A sessions or access to an expert – Joining a course and group that has the opportunity to ask your specific questions will be immensely valuable. Sometimes you just won’t understand something until you’re experiencing the challenge, and when the solution is applied to your problem, growth occurs.
Content that’s consistently updated – Marketing and copywriting are not stagnant. You want to purchase a course and be in a community that’s growing with the latest trends, research, and algorithm changes.
The right time zone – If your course has live training or Q & A sessions, make sure you’ll be able to attend them easily.
It “feels right” – This is totally subjective, but if your gut tells you that a course feels wrong – avoid it. If you’ve done your research and you’re feeling a pull to join, then it’s probably the right fit for you. Watch free content from the course creator and listen to your gut.
Are You Ready To Become a Successful Medical Copywriter?
Here are your quick-start steps:
The first step is committing to yourself – you are worth it and you can do this. Repeat this out loud to yourself every day in the mirror.
Write down a plan – Create a schedule to fit in copywriting training and work. Create attainable goals. Putting your goal on paper is powerful.
Sign up for Write Your Way To Freedom by Sarah Turner – It checks all the boxes, including a money-back guarantee so you can check everything out without any long-term commitment.
I know you’re nervous, uncertain, skeptical, and a bit scared. It’s ok – I was as well.
⭐️ Create a different career and become a medical copywriter
⭐️ Leverage your degrees and clinical knowledge to grow your business.
⭐️ Use your experience to gain traction faster as a medical copywriter.
⭐️ Have schedule and location flexibility.
⭐️ Establish financial freedom and be paid well as a writer.
I’d love to hear your thoughts about healthcare copywriting and any questions you have.
Remember – the longer you wait, the longer you’ll be stuck in the job you’re not in love with anymore.
Take a step today towards your new life and career as a medical copywriter.
Join Write Your Way To Freedom & Become a Remote Medical Copywriter.
(Or any kind of copywriter... the sky is the limit!)