Image of a ghost nurse writerCongratulations! You got your freelance writing business set up, and now you can turn to the “fun stuff:” marketing and landing writing jobs.

OK, not everyone would characterize marketing as “fun.” But look at it this way: Don’t you want to show off your spiffy new website? Don’t you want to make connections with editors and clients? Think of freelancing as attending a big party with your infant in tow. You want to meet everyone and have them tell you how beautiful your baby is.

But before you start shooting letters of introduction in random directions, why not take a moment to figure out where to aim?

Check out these three profitable niches for nurse writers.

1. Patient engagement materials

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) opened up an array of opportunities for freelance health and medical writers because of two little words: patient engagement. Suddenly, hospitals and other healthcare providers face reduced reimbursement if they don’t ‘engage’ patients in their own health and wellness. But what constitutes ‘engagement’? The HRSA (U.S. Health Resources and Service Administration) doesn’t define the phrase, but it mentions “information,” “educational materials” and “self-management programs.” Someone has to write all that stuff. Who better than a nurse — a person who actually understands patient communication?

The primary component of patient engagement remains the Electronic Health Record (EHR). Certain providers and facilities must persuade at least 5% of their patients to use electronic communications (such as the EHR) to participate in their care, and someone needs to write the material persuading those patients to do so.

But patient engagement is sure to expand beyond the scope of EHRs. Right now, many healthcare organizations are expanding patient communication initiatives across the board. Nurse-writers have a decided advantage in producing these materials because they understand both the organization side and the patient side. And that’s invaluable knowledge to a the chief marketing officer, IT officer or whoever handles a particular organization’s patient engagement initiatives.

2. Content marketing

It’s the latest buzz-phrase, and it’s no passing fad. Content marketing is here to stay, and you can make a great living at it.

If the term ‘content marketing’ sounds foreign to you, I suggest you sashay over to the Content Marketing Institute for one take on what it is. I don’t think there’s much agreement yet about exactly what constitutes content marketing, but generally speaking it consists of any type of marketing material that builds trust between a brand and consumers. That’s a broad definition.

Content marketing includes website copy, social media, blogs, sponsored content or native advertising, custom publications (think in-flight magazines), email and print newsletters and much more. Content marketing within healthcare offers worlds of opportunity. Think about all the medical products that come on the market each year. Those brands need to reach a variety of audiences: physicians, purchasing agents, consumers. They need someone who can tell great stories to help get their products noticed. No one knows how to get a physician’s attention better than a nurse does. Your insight into how to do that is worth its weight in gold.

Personally, I love content marketing writing. It’s fun work and can be quite profitable.

By the way, I’ll be at Content Marketing World in September. Will I see you there?

3. Ghostwriting

Another favorite niche of mine, ghostwriting can be rewarding and profitable as long as you’re not hung up on seeing your name in print. For the uninitiated, ghosting means writing something that will be published under another person’s name. If you can set your ego aside, you can enjoy great success in ghostwriting.

A great many healthcare professionals now understand the value of authoring a book or even maintaining a regular blog. But they don’t have the time or writing expertise to accomplish their goals. That’s where a ghost comes in. She interviews the ‘author’ and collaborates on the project’s content, then writes the whole thing herself. Ultimately, the book, blog post or article gets published under the ‘author’s’ name.

I love ghost-blogging for physicians and other clinicians. It’s true: Just because the byline says MD doesn’t mean an RN didn’t write it. This isn’t unethical, by the way. Ghostwriters work closely with the credited author to make sure the work accurately represents the author’s views and reflects his or her personality. That’s one reason it’s fun to be a ghost; you get to write in a style that may be far removed from your own.

What are your favorite niches?

I’m not saying these are the “most” profitable writing niches available to nurse-writers. In fact, they’re probably not. I have a hunch pharmaceutical writing pays great, but I’ve never done it, so I can’t say. The three niches noted above simply represent a few of the more-profitable types of writing I’ve personally done in my career.

I’d love to know what niche you are targeting or plan to target as a freelance nurse-writer. Please let me know in the comments!

I invite you to follow me on Twitter at @EHanesRN. And please tweet these blog posts using hashtag #RN2Writer.

Wishing you well!

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Image via Hobvias Sudoneighm