How to Become a Medical Copywriter - Comprehensive Guide
You’re interested in a non-clinical job and dreaming of remote work as a medical copywriter...
You’ve seen clinicians on LinkedIn who are freelance writers or write for medical companies…
You ask yourself, "What the heck they did to land those jobs?" It seems so out of your reach initially.
But let's reframe that a bit, shall we?
✨ 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.
Clinicians are starting private practices and non-traditional businesses faster than ever. They want to provide better care AND gain schedule flexibility. These clinicians need copywriting to help their website rise to the top of Google.
This is a great time to become a medical copywriter.
In case you want to skip ahead, here's the blog outline + quick links:
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
Medical copywriting salaries depend greatly on the companies you work for, and the value you bring to them.
The industry is highly variable regarding what you can make. There are 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 is often your choice. There are pros and cons to each option, and ultimately you have to decide 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 consistent income, working with a company is a good choice. You’ll be paid hourly or salary depending on the company. During the interview, ask about the project load and frequency of last-minute deadlines.
Freelance Medical Copywriting
As a freelance writer, you start and own your business, find clients, and pay yourself.
This is the path I chose. When I envisioned remote, non-clinical work — flexibility was a critical component. I didn't want a remote job that would chain me to my desk from 9-5.
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.
Being able to set your rates is both exciting and terrifying, right?
One of the most frequently asked questions in the copywriting community I’m in is, “How much should I charge for…XYZ?”
If you choose to freelance, I highly recommend joining a copywriting community or finding other writers to connect with so you too can ask this question and figure out what you want to charge. Then you’ll use those prices in your proposals 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 rates.
Expanding your package offers and working with larger clients also increases income while reducing the number of clients you’re juggling. (Essentially 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 website 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 method 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, you can decline the project.
❌ Don’t write quality copy for crappy companies.
✅ Write for companies that align with your values and interests.
Decline projects that don’t feel right. Accepting them only creates headaches as you 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 (also taught in good copywriting courses) help maintain a consistent flow of 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?
Increasing your income as a copywriter depends on your skillset and how much time you have to devote to copywriting.
Low-paying job boards or one-off writing projects make it harder to replace your clinical salary. Providing comprehensive copywriting packages increases your income and reduces the need to keep finding new clients.
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.
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 skills help you provide excellent value to your clients. When you provide excellent value to 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. 🚀
Find the people who have done what you want to do and follow a similar path.
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.) You have many choices about how to start your healthcare copywriting career.
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… especially on Reddit. 😬
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.
Another solid course option is Jacob McMillen’s course: “The Internet’s Best Copywriting Course”. It’s comprehensive and he’s a well-known copywriter and has solid testimonials from students.
Here’s a full review of Sarah’s Write Your Way to Freedom.
And here’s a review for Jacob McMillen’s Internet’s Best Copywriting Course.
Either way, you’ll have the skills, confidence, and tools to start your copywriting career quickly when you have a solid course + guide.
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.
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
There are some medical copywriters who need to subcontract work when they get busy. If you can build a connection and trust, you can gain experience under 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.
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. 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.
The benefits of 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 may be 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 doesn't help you complete your career pivot to healthcare copywriting quickly and without adding debt.
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 a 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.
The path is slower when you have fewer hours per week to dedicate to copywriting — but you can still make steady progress.
If you choose to work full time plus start a business, remember that the hustle and weekend work is temporary. As you earn more money through your copywriting business, you can begin to taper your clinical work. Start making a plan for transitioning away from working two jobs because that’s not sustainable for most people.
The goal of both Jacob & Sarah’s copywriting courses is to train impactful, profitable writers — quickly.
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?
Members in my writing community often ask about keeping their business start-up secret. They worry about being laid-off when their employer finds out they’re looking into switching careers.
This question is often asked, however it seems that the worry is often 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 happy. Good managers desire growth for their employees – even if that means losing them. If your employer or manager gives you grief for leaving then it’s a sign they’re not the best place to work anyway.
Maintain a good relationship whenever possible as you leave your clinical job.
When I was starting my business, I was worried about my boss and coworkers finding out. There wasn’t 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 was honest with my employer and coworkers.
I shared my excitement for my new venture. 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 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?
This depends on your goals and where you’d like to work.
You do not need another degree to start your own medical copywriting business.
But you may need another degree if you work with a large company or want to become a manager. Check specific job requirements to learn what degrees the company you’re interested in is looking for.
While you don’t always need another degree, additional training is useful because you are learning a new skill set. Just like continuing education courses, specialized training in copywriting allows you to better serve your clients.
Also remember – online credentials or certificates are not regulated by any governing body, so they are not always super meaningful. 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?
Change is hard.
If you’ve read this far, chances are you’re pretty committed to finding something different. It’s time to commit to improve things for yourself with a career pivot.
If you’re burned out and frustrated at work, you deserve to explore another option. Clinicians are helpers by nature, so it's natural that you feel guilt for wanting to step away.
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.
There’s a sub-group in the WYWTF group that’s specifically for healthcare workers. You’ll get support with the mindset transition as well as building your copywriting skills.
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 Medical Copywriting Success as a Clinician?
It’s only natural to identify the potential pitfalls and problems. 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 belief that you can do this.
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
When choosing a copywriting course/training, check to see if it addresses the mindset shifts that are required for transitioning from an employee to a business owner.
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.
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.
Here’s a quick list of reasons that clinicians make the best healthcare 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.
Clinicians make excellent copywriters for these reasons and more. Don’t doubt yourself or your ability to switch into a non-clinical career.
How to Choose the Best Copywriting Course
There are no less than one zillion ways to learn to become a copywriter. (Totally not an exaggeration 😉). But how do you choose the right course for you and avoid getting scammed?
Whatever course you choose, consider if it includes the following:
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. Just watch out for the Reddit reviews… often they’re from people who have never taken the course.
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 – 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.
My top two Recommendations are Sarah Turner’s Write Your Way to Freedom and Jacob McMillen’s The Internet’s Best Copywriting Course. (Jacob also has a membership called Write Minds that seems pretty awesome.)
Are You Ready To Become a Successful Medical Copywriter?
Here are your quick-start steps:
Commit 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 Sarah Turner's course or Jacob McMillen’s course. They check all the boxes, including money-back guarantees so you can check everything out without any long-term commitment.
It's normal to be 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 toward your new life and career as a medical copywriter.
You can also read about my transition to copywriting from occupational therapy here.