I’ve been a freelance medical writer for almost 2 years now, having started my company, Lyrical Medical Writing Services, back in July 2020. When I left my agency role, I was seeking greater flexibility, an opportunity to work on a broader range of project types and therapy areas, and a chance to re-focus my career on writing rather than management. I have achieved all of these as a freelancer, so for me, the decision was entirely the right one.
Freelancing certainly affords me far greater flexibility than I could ever gain in employment. I still work largely full-time hours, but I now fit work in around my life rather than the other way round. I also took the opportunity to take a month off last summer to spend time with my children during the holidays. I didn’t get paid of course, but it’s great to have the option to do that. Although I initially enjoyed being 100% home-based, I eventually moved into a co-working space in order to bring a bit more structure to my week and to interact with other freelancers. I now work 2–3 days each week from my office with the remainder from home.
Since I became a freelance writer, I have worked for 15 clients across 20 different therapy areas. The projects that I’ve completed have been diverse and at times have pushed me out of my comfort zone. A large proportion of my work comes from MedComms agencies, but I also work directly for a couple of pharma companies and I’ve made some steps towards working with not-for-profit organisations. I also volunteer as a copywriter for a small medical charity for a few hours each week. The MedComms industry seems to be busier than ever and as an experienced medical writer, obtaining freelance work has been pretty straightforward. In fact, the biggest difficulty can be deciding which projects to turn down.
As a freelancer, the vast majority of my time is spent writing and this suits me perfectly. However, it’s important to remember that you’re running your own business and this can take up some (unpaid) time. For example, you need to be able to market yourself, send (and sometimes chase) invoices, and deal with contracts, lawyers and accountants. With some clients, particularly those outside traditional MedComms agencies, you may also need to develop cost proposals. All of this was a steep learning curve for me, but actually, I found that I quite enjoy this part of the role.
Overall, if you love writing and can live with the uncertainty that goes along with being self-employed, then going freelance can be a great option for an established medical writer. I can’t imagine going back in-house any time soon.
This personal profile first appeared in the FirstMedCommsJob careers guide, Making it my own business: a guide to being a freelance writer in MedComms, published April 2022