Starting A Non-Clinical Copywriting Career As An Occupational Therapist
A Non-Clinical Copywriting Business Is Possible For You
Does this sound like you?
Looking for a non-clinical job
Wanting to work from home
Feeling burned out from healthcare and ready to change things up
I understand. I was in your shoes not too long ago.
Don’t get me wrong, I loved patient care for a long time. I became an occupational therapist (OT) because I love helping people. I’ve worked in acute care, sub-acute rehab, long-term acute rehab, outpatient, home health, and a critical access hospital.
Each setting provided a new challenge, new ways to improve people’s lives, and helped me grow professionally.
But I was losing my passion for occupational therapy. I wasn’t bringing my best when I showed up to work.
I’d worked with therapists who lost their passion. I’d seen their quality of care drop and their attitude turn sour. I’ve been the therapist pulling the extra load as the burned out therapist provided half-hearted treatments.
I would not be that therapist.
Nobody wants to be that therapist -- right?
If I’m going to enter someone’s life at their lowest point, I’m going to bring my best self. When I realized I wasn't passionate about the services I provided, I knew something had to change.
I remember the moment I realized I needed to change. I had a wonderful older gentleman sitting EOB, taking a break. We were looking out the hospital window which overlooked the lake and mountains beyond. Even though I wanted the best for him, I had zero desire to be there. I was tired of the battles to get equipment, tired of the unpredictable shifts, tired of trying to help people regain their lives when the system was working against us.
Are you feeling the same way?
I knew it was time to step out of clinical care.
I had to find a non-clinical occupational therapy job. To use my OT expertise outside of direct patient care.
After a TON of searching, I found copywriting. This is a non-clinical career that flexes with my kids schedule and reignited my love for OTs.
You thought it wasn't possible to find something that checks all those boxes did you?
How an Occupational Therapist Learned About Copywriting
I'd never heard of copywriting a few months before starting my business – seriously.
When I learned what copywriting was, I realized I’d been an occupational therapist and copywriter for years without realizing it.
I volunteer for a non-profit school.
Among other things, I've written blogs, press releases, grant applications, donor letters and social media posts. I didn't have a real strategy, but something was better than nothing. I was absolutely making it up as I went.
After a few years, a mom with business experience made a comment that changed everything.
“You write great copy Krista.”
I write great copy? What did that even mean?
My first thought was, "I didn’t copy this writing from anywhere! I wrote it myself!"
After I scaled back my indignation from the word "copy" she explained that copy is simply the writing on websites, emails, social posts, and sales pages that moves people to take certain actions. Copywriters write content with purpose.
That’s when it clicked. I wanted to be a copywriter! The paid kind though... because writing for free wasn't going to cover our bills.
Copywriting was my non-clinical path into a career with flexibility, creativity, and increased income potential.
I Started a Non Clinical Copywriting Business in 4 Months While Still Working
Sounds absurd right? I wouldn’t believe me either if I hadn’t lived through it.
Let me start with this, I have never had a desire to start my own business. Entrepreneur was not part of my game plan.
I didn’t even pay attention during class in OT school when they explained business ownership and non-traditional OT jobs. That’s how sure I was that I would never start a business of my own. It’s just not who I am...or so I thought.
This was different. This wasn’t just starting a business similar to what I was already doing.
This was my ticket to non-clinical, remote work and the freedom I deeply desired.
I started with job boards, like many people do. People were asking for writers, but paying $50 or even lower. I had written blogs before, so I know it takes hours to research and write well. I knew $50 was not going to work for me.
I took free copywriting courses. I thought I would see what’s out there, and hopefully be able to break into the writing world without paying for a course.
I also looked into going back to school, or getting a certification. As therapists we always think we need more credentials right?
After constant searching and a heap of overwhelm, I came across the Write Your Way to Freedom copywriting course by Sarah Turner.
I took the free Masterclass which had loads of content and value. She explained a LOT about becoming a copywriter in the free course.
She was calm, confident, honest, and she was in the USA. (That last part helped me know she understood the culture and the live trainings would be in the right time zone.)
She also had a paid course which was much more in depth and provided support and a network. (Read my review of the course here)
But... it was a pretty big investment!
I agonized, I panicked, I lost sleep...but deep down I knew I wanted to sign up for the course and give copywriting a try.
So, I signed up. I marked the refund date on my calendar if the course was anything less than what I was hoping for.
I started into the course, still pretty skeptical that an online course from a self-proclaimed expert would actually help me build a business and earn income.
I never requested the refund.
I followed the course, went through the modules, and actually got a business set up.
I was also still working at the hospital, homeschooling my kids, and running the household (because laundry, cleaning, music lessons and soccer practices don’t stop when you’re starting a business).
Some weeks I was able to commit 30+ hours to the business start-up, but typically I worked 10-15 hours a week.
Here’s my approximate timeline & income for my first year:
End of January 2021 – Purchased the WYWTF course
February - Homeschooling kids & working through the course.
March – Launched my business website
April – Two paying clients. ≈ $600 income
May – More projects (including repeat customers) ≈ $1500 income
June – Intentionally slowed things down to work on more of the WYWTF course and my portfolio so I could pitch bigger clients. ≈ $1000 income
July ≈ $3,000 income.
August ≈ $1,000 We all have birthdays in August, there was a raging wildfire nearby threatening evacuation, AND we started school... so I'm not surprised this month is LOW!
September ≈ $3,000
October ≈ $4,100
November ≈ $2,500
December ≈ $2,300
Now before you say, "That's not that much money!" – remember I'm working PART TIME because I'm homeschooling the kids full time. I do not spend more than 20-25 hours on my business.
I've also changed my niche, declined projects that weren't a good fit, and focused more on business growth and sustainability than straight profits.
You may earn more or faster than I did - especially if your kids leave the house for school every day. A lot of writers earn more than I do, and I was totally ok with that during this stage of life. I valued my time teaching and investing in my kids -- my business always needed to come second.
Business growth is all about the work you're willing to put in and balancing your start-up with the obligations from the rest of your life.
By June it really struck me - I had started a business! I had clients! and I had really only just begun my non clinical journey.
Even though I was putting in the work, and receiving payments, I couldn’t believe it was actually happening. I still work on my mindset daily, because I keep thinking this can’t be real. Other people own businesses, not me!
I switched from occupational therapy to copywriting while juggling my family and life obligations. It wasn’t always easy, but it’s been worth the effort. Many thanks to my family for being patient during the process!
Year two (2022) has been full of ups and downs -- but I wouldn't trade it for my clinical job, that's for sure. As I'm updating this blog, it's Feb. 2023 and last month I earned $5400 from copywriting and flew to a mastermind retreat with other copywriters. It's beyond what I ever expected.
Do You Have to Take a Course to Become a Copywriter?
No and Yes – let me explain.
No – you don’t technically need a course to become a copywriter.
Copywriting isn’t regulated like healthcare. There‘s no credentialing body that gives a copywriting test. You don’t have to sit for the boards (again). Copywriters are as diverse and unique as the products and companies we promote. All skill levels and writing styles have a niche that can fit.
So technically, no, you are not required to take any courses to become a copywriter. You could try to get a certificate, but since it’s not regulated, it doesn’t carry much weight.
Occupational therapists are lifelong learners. We know the power of learning from an expert, getting feedback, and applying it to our practice.
You know continuing education helps you learn and understand a new skill set. You’re on the right track for faster success in copywriting with this line of thinking.
YES – You should take a course to become a copywriter. You know how helpful courses can be when building your skills in a new area.
Copywriting is a new area, you’ll need to expand your knowledge base.
You don’t know what you don’t know. So take a course that tells you what you don’t know!
Really – do you understand SEO, meta-descriptions, what makes great headlines, formatting, H1/H2s in your blogs, backlinks, and all the nitty-gritty details of setting up a business? I didn’t.
I’m an occupational therapist. I know a lot about neurology, biology, musculoskeletal issues, and more. But I didn’t know how to set up a writing business, get clients, and be successful.
Without WYWTF, I would still be staring at job boards, wondering how to write a blog for $40.
Yes, you need a copywriting course to help you start a business, gain skills, network, and turn this idea into a profitable business venture. You need a roadmap. You need an expert to guide you and a tribe to support you - not just at first, but throughout your journey.
Not any copywriting course. I’m sold on the Write Your Way to Freedom (WYWTF) course. (Psst, take the free Masterclass, it's worth it!)
Your Ticket From Occupational Therapy To Non-Clinical Copywriting
When you sign up for WYWTF, you’re getting way more than just a copywriting course.
You are getting a tried and true system to set up your copywriting business.
Network of supportive writers.
Referral source for writing jobs.
Professional editor to check over your work while you’re getting started.
Support to troubleshoot all areas of your new business
Expert coaches that will answer your questions as you go.
You will get professional training and guidance to help you overcome typical stumbling blocks such as mindset issues, imposter syndrome, and fear of picking a niche.
You also get very specific, organized steps to follow to start your own business. When you walk through the modules and do the “homework,” you ARE building a business without realizing it. Just keep taking small, purposeful steps. You won’t have to wonder what you should do next.
The course is self-paced as well, so you can take as long as you want or need. Many people take the course while working full time and very slowly build their writing business.
Even more than the information and education, you join a community of like minded people. The writers in the WYWTF group support and encourage each other. You share and celebrate successes and lift others up when they’re down.
My first writing job came from within the WYWTF group. An established writer needed a therapy related article.
As an OT, I jumped at the chance. She worked through the process from start to finish with me. I completed a discovery call, sent her a proposal, invoiced her, and got the contract signed. She then gave me feedback and requested changes just like a client would. Then – I got paid!
Established copywriters frequently get client leads they don’t want. They post these opportunities in the group and help newer writers through the process.
Maybe your first gig will be a hand-off as well! (Tag me when you’re in!)
First paid job + invaluable mentorship. All because I joined the WYWTF group instead of trying to go out solo.
It’s worth it.
Plus, if you join the course and then decide you don't like it - you can get a refund. Easy as that.
Copywriting Is Not Like Clinical Documentation
Do you hate documentation? Think it’s the worst part of being an occupational therapist?
Don’t let that deter you from becoming a copywriter. Copywriting is not like medical documentation. You do leverage some of the writing techniques you’ve mastered as a therapist (but copywriting is still more fun).
You document with a specific purpose in mind. You’ll still write with intention when copywriting. You learn the target audience, what they want to hear, and speak directly to them. A little bit like writing to that reviewer, proving medical necessity.
In copywriting, no reviewer denies therapy based on your writing. You don’t have a productivity burden and constantly changing standards. But you do get to use the power of story-telling to do good for others.
Think about the products, restaurants, clothes, or services that you’ve recommended to a friend because you know they'll love it too.
Copywriting is basically taking that word-of-mouth recommendation and putting it on paper. Helping people connect with things that will improve their lives.
This is why I write for other therapists, coaches, and MedTech entrepreneurs... they're improving people's lives and they NEED better marketing so they can reach the clients who are struggling!
Non-clinical occupational therapists bring experience and perspective to copywriting.
You can write for any industry as a copywriter.
You write for products and companies you truly believe in. You’re not limited to the medical or therapy field just because that’s what your degree is in. Maybe it’s health and wellness, accessibility, farm to table, or those incredibly comfortable shoes you love so much.
Writing to convince someone else to try something that you find value in isn’t shady. Your writing helps someone find an amazing product or service.
Even if you despise documentation, copywriting may be a good fit for you. You can connect with brands that align with your values, then you’ll feel great promoting them.
It feels good to do good.
Become A Non-Clinical, Occupational Therapy Copywriter
The WYWTF course requires an intake call to join because Sarah wants to vet the people that join the community. Start with the free masterclass.
I'm not worried about other occupational therapists becoming copywriters because I KNOW there's more than enough work to go around.
There are over 3,000 people in WYWTF. You can use anyone’s link to sign up. I am happy to help you and support you as you’re considering signing up for WYWTF and after you are in the group.
You’ll hit all the same mental and physical roadblocks that so many of us do.
You’ll work through imposter syndrome and struggle to narrow down your niche.
You’ll take too much time writing your pieces initially.
You’ll need help editing and refining your work.
It’s ok. We all work through it.
You’ll have another occupational therapist to contact on your journey. It won't just be me either - the whole community will have your back.
The first time through is always the hardest, so why not walk through it with a peer who will help you grow as you stumble through.
Remember your fieldwork rotations? They were rough right?
You felt like you didn’t know enough, you were missing something, and everything took too long to complete because you were new.
You felt like a total fraud even though you’d been through years of school to get to that fieldwork placement.
Switching to copywriting from occupational therapy is similar.
Think of how you grew over time as a therapist and many of the things you struggled with early on are simple now. Writing is the same.
Things will take too long, you’ll feel like a fraud, and you’ll question yourself. Then you will grow and gain skills and confidence. You’ll own your new gig like the boss you are.
Really, if I can do this, then so can you.
I’m a pretty average therapist and mom.
I’m here to cheer you on and support you.
I’ll see you on the inside of the Write Your Way to Freedom group!
Tag me when you get there.
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Read More About Becoming A Non-Clinical Copywriter
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