Finding your niche that is writing I Became an Expert Freelance Science Writer

Finding your niche that is writing I Became an Expert Freelance Science Writer

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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 can find on sites like Elance and Odesk and attempting to build a portfolio which could simply get me more work. Because of this, my focus was scattered: a resume here, a few blog posts there, the occasional ghostwritten eBook.

This worked, in a way of speaking. But I was write papers for college students losing more bids I had was to bid low and bid often than I was landing—and the main weapon. This is bad not just for my own important thing but for the freelancer community most importantly and I also knew it. Eventually, though, as I began to get steady work in a few areas I realized that I had a background i possibly could draw on that would permit me to specialize.


Prior to 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 world of the natural sciences to me with creativity and wit. I experienced finally found something worth planning to college for. As an undergraduate I fell deeply in love with Ecology—the branch of biology for creative types—and spent the second few 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 world that is real therefore I went along to work with some other areas. Used to do research in public places health, infectious disease, and neuroscience, while volunteering with all the Audubon Society plus in community gardens. All the while I was building a very good foundation that could help me eventually find my specialization, although I didn’t know it during the time.

Finding my niche

Fast-forward to about six months ago, once I realized that most jobs I was landing were in Science and Medical Writing. Not only that, but these jobs paid a lot more than most of the other jobs I happened to be fighting over with other freelancers as we all slashed our bids to the minimum. I already had a portfolio of articles on avian ecology, molecular biology, organic gardening techniques, and public health. I had real credentials and a solid resume. And I could present myself as an writer that is expert these areas. As just that: an expert science writer specializing in environmental news, medical writing, research, gardening and green tech so I rebranded myself.

My proposals became more targeted. I happened to be submitting fewer of them, but immediately saw a much higher acceptance rate. Because I was only trying to get jobs in which I knew I was probably the most qualified writers within the room, i possibly could spend more time back at my proposals and request higher rates. I already knew which buzz words would demonstrate that I became comfortable with scientific nomenclature. And clients taken care of immediately that. I occupy a niche that is great I’m not a med student seeking to earn money on the side—I’m a freelance writer. But I’m also not a generalist freelance writer—I’m an expert Science and Medical freelance writer.

You will find pitfalls to specializing—and it’s crucial that you prevent them. Try not to make your section of expertise so specific that you can only bid using one sort of job. In the place of being just a science writer or simply just a writer that is medical I’m both. But We have a diverse portfolio in both these areas as well. We have many years of experience as a gardener, but am formally trained as an Ecologist. And I have worked in public areas 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 could be drawn directly from Evolutionary Biology. Several of the most successful organisms use a strategy called optimal foraging behavior: they seek out the foodstuff which they know will give you the biggest payoff, but are willing to try to find other sourced elements of income in the meantime. As an science that is expert, I have a few areas which can be my specialty, but I’m not above writing a series of gardening guides if I can’t find a large job when it comes to week.

Secondly, know your limitations. As an incident study, once 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 with it, and I also had a background in molecular biology techniques like PCR; how hard would it be?

As it turned out chromatography that is liquid highly complex. Sufficient reason for no direct experience or theoretical training in them, i really couldn’t learn them overnight. It doesn’t matter exactly how much training that is scientific have in other areas, or how quick an autodidactic study you may be. I ultimately had to cancel that job and lost a client that is potentially long-term. Therefore the second rule is: don’t think that being an expert science writer makes you a Science Expert. Stay glued to the fields you know very well, and will also be consistently publishing quality material.

Thirdly, always be on the lookout for possibilities 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, the good news is as a member associated with the public in place of a researcher. I never stopped subscribing to magazines that focus on nature and ecology, and today I feel confident to send query letters in their mind. And organizations like the National Association of Science Writers have lots of resources for science writers.

Finally, enjoy it. I love writing, and I also love science. Focusing on science writing has allowed us to take on projects that I find interesting and engaging. I’m able to produce work I’m proud of, and I’m constantly learning more info on the world that is natural.

Concerning the author:

Jim Daley is a freelance writer situated in Chicago. After being employed as an investigation 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 process of balancing creative endeavors with professional freelance writing.

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