How DeLene More than Doubled Her Freelance Income
A New Specialty and Better Marketing
T. DeLene Beeland more than doubled her freelance income by shifting to a strong specialty, building new skills, trying new types of work, and developing client-focused marketing. Now she has more work than she can handle.
Estimated reading time: 7 minutes
When T. DeLene Beeland returned to freelancing in 2019 after taking some time off to start a family, she was shocked at how little she was earning and knew that she could do better. “I believed that with my skills, experience, and education, I had the potential to do a lot more with my writing,” says DeLene. “I started looking around for what else I could do with my skills that would allow me to challenge myself and earn more.”
So DeLene shifted her focus from science writing to medical writing, built new skills, tried new types of work, and developed client-focused marketing. In about 18 months, DeLene has more than doubled her income and has more work than she can handle.
InsightMed Communications LLC delivers insightful medical and health content to educate and engage healthcare providers and patients. DeLene crafts “clear, accurate, and lively strategic content” for a range of clients from major universities to life science services companies, continuing medical education companies, and medical communications agencies.
A New Specialty for DeLene
DeLene learned about medical writing through the American Medical Writers Association (AMWA) and the University of Chicago Medical Writing and Editing Certificate Program. Through AMWA and the certificate program, DeLene was able to explore many types of work she had never thought about before.
“I spent the first part of my writing career focused on science news writing and thinking of my writing through the lens of journalism,” says DeLene. “But AMWA and the University of Chicago courses changed my perspective regarding how I conceived of potential clients and deliverables. I realized I could write white papers, slide decks, company blogs, marketing content, and continuing medical education. It was eye opening and refreshing!”
Professional associations like AMWA make it easy for freelancers to get high-paying freelance work. AMWA is a key association for all freelance medical writers and freelance medical editors.
Through her courses in the Medical Writing and Editing Certificate Program, DeLene built some new skills, such as interpreting tables and figures, interpreting biostatistics, and becoming familiar with the AMA style guide.
Also, earning her certificate shows that DeLene is competent and committed to continuing education. “Finishing the certificate gives clients confidence that they are hiring someone competent and shows that I value my education and staying current in my chosen field,” she says.
Having the certificate also gave DeLene more confidence in marketing her freelance business and speaking with potential clients.
Client-Focused Marketing Works
As an elective in the Medical Writing and Editing Certificate Program, DeLene took Freelancing in Medical Writing and Editing, which I co-teach with my freelance friend Genevieve Walker, PhD, owner of Bridge Health Communications. Along with learning how to run a professional freelance business, DeLene learned about the need to market her freelance business and how best to do this.
“Before, I thought writing a bio that explained who I was and what I had done was enough. But the marketing class taught me to flip that perspective and rather than explain myself, position myself as competent and reliable. It taught me to talk about how I can meet a client’s needs rather than explaining who I am or what I’ve done in the past.”
DeLene defined the types of clients she wants to work with, developed a freelance brand, updated her LinkedIn profile and developed a freelance website.
How DeLene Shows She Can Meet Client Needs
To develop client-focused marketing, DeLene needed to know the type of clients she wanted to work with. Her target markets (types of clients she wants to work with) are:
- Continuing medical education companies
- Life science services companies
- Other medical- and health-related organizations and companies.
Next, DeLene began working on her freelance brand, which helps her stand out from other freelancers. DeLene developed marketing messages, chose a business name, InsightMed Communications LLC , and worked with a professional designer on her logo and website.
Since clients often tell DeLene that she brings insight to their projects, she wanted to use this as part of her business name. DeLene did a lot of brainstorming and reviewed hundreds of websites and LinkedIn profiles of other freelancers before she chose InsightMed Communications LLC.
“Delivering insightful medical and health content to educate and engage health care providers and patients” is DeLene’s key marketing message. She uses this in her LinkedIn headline and website home page.
Here is DeLene’s LinkedIn headline.
Here is part of DeLene’s home page.
DeLene’s professional designer listened to her ideas about colors, tone, and a logo and showed her fonts and images to better understand what she liked and didn’t like. Then he developed concepts for her logo and they went back and forth until it was just right.
Here is DeLene’s logo.
Following development of DeLene’s logo, the designer developed her . “My logo and website convey who I am and the kind of work I do,” says DeLene. “I wanted my logo to express the ideas of transformation, synthesis, and creativity, which are central to communicating groundbreaking research. My website backs this up by showing my professionalism and experience.”
Within about a month of updating her LinkedIn profile, clients started reaching out to DeLene. Soon, she had two new clients who found her through LinkedIn searches.
New Types of Work Bring in More Money
Trying new types of work helped DeLene more than double her freelance income. New projects include white papers, needs assessments, slide decks, and manuscripts.
A client who liked DeLene’s work trusted her to do projects she hadn’t done before. Once she had a little experience with the new projects, DeLene began adding them to her marketing. Even though she didn’t have a lot of experience, being able to talk competently about past projects gave clients confidence that DeLene could do their project.
“I would never have unlocked that income, or gained these new skills, if I had not stretched myself to new forms of writing and deliverables beyond university news and science journalism,” she says.
Repeat Business Lets DeLene Phase Out Low-Paying Clients
Much of DeLene’s work comes from repeat business from clients. This helps DeLene grow her freelance business with less administrative work, less marketing, and less stress.
Working with about six steady, high-paying clients has enabled DeLene to stop working with some of her earlier, lower-paying clients. She also has a few good clients who occasionally need her help.
“A cheerful attitude, being welcoming and grateful when someone sends me a project, and sending in solid work all combine to make people want to work with me again and again,” says DeLene.
Finding Time for Marketing
As a result of defining her target markets, developing a freelance brand, updating her LinkedIn profile, and developing a freelance website, DeLene has quickly built her freelance business. Now, she is turning away work.
“The work just seems to keep presenting itself,” she says. “I’ve had more projects than I can take on, and have been referring some to other writers I know.” If DeLene does ever need to actively reach out to prospective clients again, then she knows what to do. And her brand, LinkedIn profile, and freelance website will impress those clients.
If you’re struggling to build your freelance business, then DeLene suggests taking a class like she did, or reading the Freelance Success Blog to help “demystify” marketing. “Knowledge really is power,” says DeLene, who found that the logic and structure in my proven process for freelance marketing made doing her marketing easier.
Finding Work-Life Balance
Both DeLene and her husband own small businesses. Her husband’s business is less flexible and requires longer hours than DeLene’s, so she is usually the primary parent for their two children, ages 7 and 10. “It is easy to get burned out, and working through burnout is brutal,” she says.
Finding a good work-life balance hasn’t been easy. DeLene works on this by being very organized and scheduling time for restorative activities.
She maps out her work projects with the estimated time required and family responsibilities like driving her kids places and appointments. This also helps DeLene protect her billable time and see when she can start a new project.
Restorative activities include taking 10 minutes to enjoy a cup of tea on the deck while listening to the birds, a 3-hour bike road through the mountains, swimming laps or other exercise, and several family vacations each year.
Still, sometimes DeLene isn’t able to find time to give her brain and her body a break from sitting at her desk all day. But now she is aware of this and instead of ignoring her needs, she does her best to find personal time, especially for exercise.
Learn More About DeLene and How to Get the Clients You Deserve
T. DeLene Beeland
Content from The Mighty Marketer
University of Chicago Medical Writing and Editing Certificate Program