Picture of hand with five fingers: Friday Five.(Almost) every Friday, I offer five tips to help freelance nurse writers amp up their careers. Ready, set…go!

Tip 1 (Monday): Where do your opportunities lie?

If you’ve been following along, you know we’re in the middle of doing a SWOT (Strengths-Weaknesses-Opportunities-Threats) analysis of ourselves. This exercise helps you plan your continuing education activities, develop a marketing plan and generally get a sense of your career arc. Review the Strengths post and the Weaknesses post to get up to speed. Then get our your paper and get ready to tackle Opportunities.

In the context of a SWOT analysis, opportunities are external factors that you can exploit for success. You do not control opportunities; they derive from the environment or society.

For a freelance nurse writer, opportunities might include:

  • Increasing need for patient education and empowerment materials due to ACA
  • Medical use of social media
  • Positive perception of nurses as trustworthy professionals

The concept of ‘opportunities’ in the SWOT analysis can be kind of nebulous. If you find it confusing, don’t worry. Just do the best you can.

Next time, we’ll tackle threats. And then we’ll look at what to do with your completed SWOT.

Tip 2 (Tuesday): Can I use this image?

I saw an infographic circulating recently with a similar headline. That infographic is filled with inaccurate information, which is why I’m not linking to it.

Let’s get one thing straight: You cannot use any traditionally copyrighted image without permission. Period. End of sentence. This means you may not download any old image (photo, illustration, line art) from the internet and use it to illustrate your blog, your business card — or anything else. Don’t do it.

The situation’s a little different with Creative Commons licensing. In a certain way, Creative Commons is the “opt-out” version of copyright. Where traditional copyright automatically denies permission to reproduce a creative work, Creative Commons licensing defaults to giving full permission to use any work unless the creator specifically restricts usage. Many people use Creative Commons licensing on photos uploaded to sharing sites like Flickr. As long as you fulfill your sharing obligations under the license, you’re free to use these images. You’ll notice all the images I use on this blog are CC licensed.

Your task today is to educate yourself about the differences between traditional copyright of images and Creative Commons licensing so you don’t inadvertently break the law or violate someone’s image rights.

Tip 3 (Wednesday): Set up your social media accounts

As part of your business branding, you should create social media accounts separate from your personal ones. That means if you already have a Twitter profile, you should create a new one for your business — and start using it for business purposes. Your social media strategy should be a component of your overall marketing plan, which I’ll go into at a later time. For today, get started creating accounts on the various social media platforms you think will most benefit your business. And don’t forget to follow me on Twitter at @EHanesRN.

Tip 4 (Thursday): What is a SOW?

As I’ve said before, freelance writing — like nursing — has its own lingo. In our parlance, SOW does not refer to a female hog. Rather, it’s an acronym for “scope of work.” SOW represents an important concept in freelance writing because it precisely defines (and limits) what tasks you will be performing for a client. The Freelancers Union offers an awesome, free contract creator that includes a section discussing SOW. Read it.

Tip 5 (Friday): LOI/Query tracker

I’ve talked before about having a client relationship management program. I use ContactMe. I like it, and it works well. But for tracking whom I’ve sent LOIs or queries to, I prefer a plain old Word document or Excel spreadsheet. Your tracker should include columns for dates, contact person/publication, what you sent, what the response was, and if/when you followed up. Spend some time today creating a custom LOI tracker for yourself.

Bonus tip: People who subscribe to the RN2Writer Newsletter will be receiving a free marketing plan template that includes a LOI tracker with the September newsletter. Get yours by signing up today!

What else would you like to see covered on the RN2Writer blog? Email me or post questions in the comments!

Wishing you well,