Picture of hand with five fingers: Friday Five.Every Friday I’m sharing five tips to launch, amp up or maintain your freelance health writing career. You should implement one tip per day, Monday through Friday. Have fun!

Tip 1 (Monday): Get Yer Dot-Com Here!

I keep getting the cart before the horse.

Three weeks ago, I told you to “rewrite your website.” Two weeks ago, I said, “Whoops! Maybe you don’t have a website yet.” Today, I’m saying to myself, “Shoot, maybe my readers don’t even have a domain name.” If that’s the case, my advice to you is: Before you settle on a business name, lock down the dot-com for it.

Despite the plethora of domain extensions available today — from dot-sex to dot-guru — the dot-com still rules and likely will continue to rule for a long time. Problem is dot-coms are getting harder and harder to find.

You have a couple of options here. First, try to register your given name if it hasn’t been snatched up already. Especially if you’re a bylined writer, you may get a lot of people searching for you by name, in which case a URL with your name in it makes sense.

If that doesn’t work, or if you really have your heart set on using your business name as your dot-com, then research available domain names first — before you file for your LLC or obtain a business license. There’s no point in registering Hypodermic Communications if hypodermiccommunications.com is registered to someone else.

Once you do find the perfect domain name, register it immediately! You can take forever to file paperwork to incorporate your business or obtain a tax ID number, but a domain name won’t last. Trust me.

Many people use GoDaddy as their registrar. I use and recommend NameCheap.

Tip 2 (Tuesday): Start reading

I’ve written before about why nurse writers should specialize. And if you’re going to specialize, then you also need to study. Don’t think you know all there is to know about, say, electronic health records just because you’ve been using them.

Instead, start reading. Find some quality news sources and subscribe to their newsletters or feeds. Then schedule time for reading — if not every day, then several times a week.

Some of the news feeds I subscribe to:

Tip 3 (Wednesday): Discover budgeting

As I’ve said, you’re going to need to invest in your business to start it up. Even if you go the extreme low-budget route, you’re going to have to shell out for certain supplies, like file folders. Before you invest that first dollar in your business, get familiar with business budgeting.

When I first started out, I used an old-school green, five-column accounting pad for my budgeting. You can’t get any lower-tech than that. But there are good high-tech solutions out there, too. Besides tracking your expenses, you’re going to need to track your income (w00t!!) and make projections of future expenses and income.

Today’s tip is not about finding an accounting software program. It’s about educating yourself about business budgeting. You don’t have to become an accountant, but you need to understand a balance sheet.

Tip 4 (Thursday): Spruce up your LinkedIn profile

Unlike a lot of other freelancers, I’m big on LinkedIn as a marketing tool. I get a significant number of leads and gigs through LinkedIn, so I believe it’s worth investing some time in tweaking your profile, adding clips (if you have any) and making sure the correct keywords appear throughout your descriptions.

If you haven’t been using LinkedIn for your nursing career, here’s a golden opportunity to brand yourself as a freelance writer. Look, my LinkedIn profile ranks higher in Google than my own website when people search on my name. That alone makes it worthwhile to create a great profile on LinkedIn.

Tip 5 (Friday): Pick 3 niche specialties

Getting back to specialization again… I frequently hear from new nurse writers who tell me they’re going to specialize in a broad topic like “women’s health” (I’m looking at you, Kris – ha ha). This is fine. It’s great! But I want to point out you can sub-specialize (if you will) in very narrow niches — and that can make you incredibly valuable to many publishers.

For example, I don’t specialize in writing about “gerontology” or “the Sandwich Generation.” I specialize in “home care for seniors with Alzheimer’s and related dementias.” That’s a fairly narrow niche. It’s very focused.

Why is this valuable? Because editors and clients are willing to pay more for expertise. It’s that simple. Actually, it’s more complicated than that, but I’m out of space. I’ll have to explain later.

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Wishing you well!