How to Go from Nurse to Writer in 12 Weeks

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Launching a writing business doesn’t have to be a long, arduous process.

Many nurses become freelance writers precisely because it’s so easy to get started. You can pursue freelance writing as a side gig while you keep nursing, which all but eliminates the financial risk (because you’re not giving up a steady paycheck). You don’t have to invest a ton of money into your new business, either. Mainly, getting into freelance writing just requires nurses to set up a business and start marketing their services.

Ah, but there’s the rub: What, exactly, is the process for setting up a business? And how do you market yourself to find clients? Many nurses stumble at that point – which is understandable. Nursing school doesn’t teach you how to be an entrepreneur.

But I can. Let me tell you what I know.

Nurses: Get Started as a Freelance Writer FAST

You could be making money by Christmas as a freelance nurse writer. Think about that. You could have your business up, running, and maybe even making money by holidaytime. Wouldn’t that make a nice brag in the annual family holiday letter?

The fastest, smoothest route to going from nurse to writer is to apply for the RN2writer STAT group coaching program. (But hurry! Applications close tomorrow, September 2!) In that program, I’m sharing the exact path I took on my way to becoming a six-figure freelance writer. My method eliminates a lot of the trial-and-error you would otherwise have to endure to figure out how to get from Point A to Point B.

But let’s say you’re reading this after the program’s application window closes.

Well, this post walks you through all the basic steps required for a nurse to get up and running as a freelance writer in 12 weeks, whether you do it through RN2writer STAT or on your own.

Week One: Consult the Experts

Look, I know a lot about the business of freelance writing. I’ve been making six figures as a writer for years now.

But I’m not a lawyer. Nor am I an accountant.

The first thing you should do before setting up as a nurse writer is consult those experts. Yes, both of them. 

An attorney can brief you on the best type of business structure for your personal situation, plus tell you about the permits and certificates you need to legally conduct business in your state. An accountant can advise you about how to set up your books properly, how and when to pay estimated taxes (and how much to pay), and many other important aspects of financial management.

It’s well worth paying these professionals. Consider these expenses an investment in your business.

Weeks Two-Six: Set Up Your Business Entity, Get Work Samples

During this next month after you’ve consulted an attorney and an accountant, you can put in the time to set up your business entity. These steps include a lot of paperwork. Specifically, you may need to:

  • File paperwork to register your LLC, S-corp, or other type of business
  • Obtain an Employee Identification Number (EIN)
  • Obtain a state tax ID number
  • Set up an IRS electronic payment account
  • Get a business license
  • Open a business checking account

In addition to jumping through these hoops to get your business set up, you also should start getting some work samples together. If you have no writing samples to show prospective clients, you may find it harder to get paying work.

I always recommend you get your first work samples by reaching out to local non-profits to volunteer your writing skills. When I launched my business, I volunteered to write newsletter content for my local Alzheimer’s Association newsletter. Bingo! I had beautiful samples to show prospective clients, and the charity got well-written stories to share with their subscribers.

Weeks Seven-Eight: Set Up Your Office and Work Systems

I’m a big believer in working out of a dedicated home office space. I think a person feels more professional when they conduct business from a professional(ish) workspace.

That doesn’t mean you need to remodel a guest room and invest in a lot of pricey technology. Just decide where you’re going to put a desk, computer, notepads, and pens (lots and lots of pens). Get this area organized. For more (slightly outdated) details, download this Essential Home Office Setup Guide I wrote for nurse-writers way back in 2014.

I’m also a big believer in systems. Using established processes makes you a more efficient writer in a profession where time is money. So, set up your bookkeeping system, business budget, client onboarding plan, and so on. You’ll thank yourself later.

Weeks 9-12: Market, Market, Market

At this point, there’s nothing left to do but market your services. You should use multiple marketing strategies, but I always recommend starting with a website.

A lot of people quail at the idea of creating their own website, but it’s not as difficult as you might think. For a comprehensive guide, read this post: How to Set Up Your Writing Website in Minutes – for Just $1.

Your website can become an excellent inbound marketing tool, but you’ll also need to conduct direct outreach to land your first client. First, craft a good Letter of Introduction (LOI). To learn what an LOI is and how to write one, refer to this post: How to Write a Five-Sentence Letter of Introduction that Gets Results.

There are maybe a million other ways to market your brand. (Yes, as a nurse writer you are a brand now.) A few of those ways include:

  • Publishing a website
  • Blogging
  • Publishing a newsletter
  • Participating in relevant online industry groups
  • Speaking at a convention or conference
  • Advertising
  • Volunteering
  • Guest posting
  • Maintaining a professional social media presence
  • Using a signature line in your emails that includes your web address
  • Commenting in your professional capacity on other people’s blog posts
  • Cold-calling
  • Prospecting and cold-emailing
  • Professional YouTube channel
  • Facebook page
  • Professional directory listing at a website like AHCJ

But don’t overwhelm yourself by trying to do ALL of these. Instead, develop a marketing plan (use this simple “marketing care plan” template, if you wish) that chooses marketing initiatives that make sense for Brand You.

Success in 12 Weeks?

If you use this roadmap, you may indeed find success by landing your first client in 12 weeks. Then again, you may find that working through all this stuff on your own takes longer than that. Even students in the RN2writer STAT group coaching program may not earn their first dollar during the 12 weeks the course runs – but they’ll probably have a better shot at it, because they’ll benefit from my help to avoid the many pitfalls that can waste your time when you’re trying to launch a new business. Plus, they’ll be operating as part of a community that supports each member every step of the way.

So, sure, you can do this whole thing on your own. Honest. All of the nurse-writers I know did it that way.

But to speed the process and maximize your chance of success at transitioning from nurse to writer, apply for RN2writer STAT coaching. I would love to work with you!

Elizabeth Hanes

Elizabeth Hanes

Elizabeth Hanes BSN RN is known professionally as "the nurse who knows content." By day, she uses her nursing knowledge and creative writing acumen to produce content that drives results for clients. By night, she teaches other nurses how to achieve their dreams of a professional writing career. In between, she takes frequent breaks to drink Cosmos and walk her dog, Mitzi. Elizabeth lives in Albuquerque, NM. She has never met Walter White or needed Saul Goodman.

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