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

I didn’t have much of a plan when I started freelance writing full-time about a year ago. I happened to be deciding on whatever leads I can find on sites like Elance and Odesk and attempting to build a portfolio that could simply get me more work. Because of this, my focus was scattered: a resume here, a number of blog posts there, the ghostwritten eBook that is occasional.

This worked, in a fashion of speaking. But I happened to be losing more bids than I happened to be landing—and the main weapon I experienced would be to bid low and bid often. This was bad not just for my own important thing but for the freelancer community most importantly and I knew it. Eventually, though, as I started initially to get steady work in a few areas I realized that I experienced a background i really could draw on that will allow 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 realm of the natural sciences to me with creativity and wit. I had finally found something worth likely to college for. As an undergraduate I fell so in love with Ecology—the branch of biology for creative types—and spent the next few years immersed for the reason 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 and so I decided to go to work with many other areas. Used to do research in public places health, infectious disease, and neuroscience, while volunteering with all the Audubon Society as well as in community gardens. Even while I became building a strong foundation that will help me to eventually find my specialization, at the time although I didn’t know it.

Finding my niche

Fast-forward to about half a year ago, when I realized that almost all jobs I was landing were in Science and Medical Writing. Not just that, however these working jobs paid significantly more than many of the other jobs I was fighting over with other freelancers once we all slashed our bids to your minimum. I already had a portfolio of articles on avian ecology, molecular biology, organic gardening techniques, and health that is public. I experienced real credentials and a solid resume. And I also could present myself as an expert writer in these areas. Thus I rebranded myself as just that: a professional science writer focusing on environmental news, medical writing, research, gardening and green tech.

My proposals became more targeted. I became submitting fewer of these, but immediately saw a much higher acceptance rate. I knew I was one of the most qualified writers in the room, I could spend more time on my proposals and ask for higher rates because I was only applying for jobs in which. I already knew which buzz words would demonstrate that I became more comfortable with scientific nomenclature. And clients taken care of immediately that. I occupy a great niche: I’m not a med student looking to generate income from 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 is important to avoid them. Do not make your part of expertise so specific you could only bid on a single type of job. As opposed to being just a science writer or perhaps a writer that is medical I’m both. But We have a portfolio that is diverse both of these areas as well. We have years of experience as a gardener, but am formally trained as an Ecologist. And I have worked in public areas health, but also understand biology that is molecular. If i really could only bid on one of those areas, i might be severely limited in terms of the jobs that could be available to me.

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The rule that is first being a successful expert science writer may be drawn directly from Evolutionary Biology. Several of the most successful organisms use a strategy called optimal foraging behavior: they look for the foodstuff that they know will provide the payoff that is biggest, but they are willing to look for other resources of income for the time being. As an science that is expert, We have a couple areas which can be my specialty, but I’m not above writing a series of gardening guides if I can’t find a huge job when it comes to week.

Secondly, know your limitations. As an incident study, whenever 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 happened to be 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 very complex. In accordance with no direct experience or theoretical training inside them, i really couldn’t learn them overnight. It doesn’t matter how much training that is scientific have in other areas, or how quick an autodidactic study you might be. I ultimately needed to cancel that job and lost a client that is potentially long-term. And so the rule that is second: don’t think that being a specialist science writer enables you to a Science Expert. Adhere to the fields you understand very well, and you will certainly be quality material that is consistently publishing.

Thirdly, continually be searching for possibilities to become better at your work. I no longer work as a researcher in Ecology and Evolution, but that doesn’t mean I ever lost my love of the topic. I still attend conferences about environmental issues during my area, nevertheless now as a known member regarding the public in place of a researcher. I never stopped subscribing to magazines that focus on nature and ecology, and now 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, have fun. I like writing, and I also love science. Focusing on science writing has allowed us to take on projects that I find interesting and engaging. I can produce work I’m proud of, and I’m constantly learning more info on the world that is natural.

About the author:

Jim Daley is a freelance writer based in Chicago. After being employed as a study biologist in avian ecology, public health, and infectious disease, he gone back to his first love—writing. He contributes content to gardening and science websites. On his blog, jimdaleywrites, he explores the entire process of balancing creative endeavors with professional freelance writing.