When I start working with a new life science client, one aspect of digital marketing that will be required in some form is content marketing.
I have previously written a post outlining life science content marketing; the different forms, examples and benefits of it. But in this post, I am going to discuss some of the factors that clients don’t always know about – or consider – when they start working with a life science content marketer.
In this post, I will include my own personal experiences and insights working as a life science content marketer, but also a select few scientific content writers from around the world.
Let me introduce them to you:
Elie is a Bioengineering Ph.D. graduate who was 12 years research experience in microbiology, synthetic biology and immunology. Realising he had a passion for communicating research, he started giving more presentations and blogging, before deciding he was better suited for a career as a professional science and content writer. With 6 years experience in the field, Elie has recently launched his own content and SEO agency for the Life Sciences, based in San Diego, California.
Sheeva is an MIT and Georgetown graduate, and has been a science, health, technology, business, and policy writer and reporter since 2013. She is now the founder of her own science writing company, Fancy Comma and has her own personal blog – sheevaazma.com.
Nidhi is a London Based science writer with a degree in Biomedicine from the University of East Anglia. After graduating, she moved into a career in law, practicing as an occupational disease paralegal at a top insurance firm. After realising how much of a problem health literacy was, she decided to start her own blog, before deciding to write about science and health full-time.
What does a typical day/ week look like?
[ED] – My week is typically mixed with a range of activities from digging into scientific literature, outlining a piece of content, doing keyword research, writing SEO-focused blogs or webpages, and meeting with clients. I really enjoy this regular mix of activities and like learning about the latest science going on at different life science companies, from startups to global corporations.
[SA] – I typically write a lot of blog posts, whitepapers, and other science content and copy.
[NP] – I don’t have a schedule I follow per se. Every night I make a list of things that need to get done the next day, and when I wake up, I get on it as soon as possible. I am most productive as soon as I wake up or really late at night, and try to use that to my advantage. I do a lot of research and writing in my role, but also have tons of admin tasks to do, and guest posts to write. When I’m doing neither, I am most likely trying to pitch an article to top publications or waiting by the phone for *any* response really.
What types of content/ writing do you produce?
Content creation is more than writing words. It can be content in any form of media, such as video, illustrations of even podcasts!
But when it comes to life science content writing, there are lots of different forms of writing to consider, as demonstrated by the below answers.
[ED] – I produce lots of “top-of-funnel” pieces of content, which help to educate potential customers about new technologies that they may be unaware of. These can take different formats from infographics, blogs, white papers, and e-books. The scientific topics I tend to work on focus on cancer, immunotherapy, genetic engineering, drug development, and synthetic biology.
[SA] – I have written a lot about COVID and its impacts in the pandemic. Both from a medical sense (e.g., how the COVID-19 vaccines work) and in terms of COVID impacts on the economy (supply chain impacts, for example).
[NP] – I focus on health sciences, and more specifically, in anything that helps with health literacy.
What is the best way to find a content writer?
If you are in the position of seeking out a content writer, fortunately, there are many places to turn to.
Freelance sites such as Upwork, PeoplePerHour and specialist site, Kolabtree, all offer a great platform to find a writer for your requirements. However, social media is also a great opportunity for freelancers and those looking to hire.
Never underestimate the power of somebody’s own website; where they can provide a vast portfolio of their work and previous working experiences.
[ED] – I get found through my own personal network and on LinkedIn. I spent quite a bit of time on my LinkedIn profile, soliciting colleagues to write recommendations and endorse me for skills. I think it really paid off because I’ve had several big projects come in from people who were searching for science writers on LinkedIn and found me.
[SA] – I love Upwork!
[NP] – I use my website, Upwork, social media and cold emails.
What is the biggest misconception about science writers & content producers?
‘Science’ encompasses an awful lot of different topics and is an incredibly vague term.
Yes, a science content writer might be able to produce some general, top-level content, but when it comes to specific or niche topics, do remember that you will likely require a specialist writer!
[ED] – Because I have a Ph.D., a lot of clients will think that I just know everything about science, everything from physics to biology. In reality, I can dive into most scientific topic and write intelligently about it, but it can sometimes take months. So, if you want me to chug out a blog on quantum computing in 2 days, that just isn’t in my wheelhouse.
[SA] – That we’re not necessary. That could not be more false. Science is complex and people need to be able to read and understand scientific concepts they may need to know to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic.
[NP] – I think the biggest misconception is that we need to know it all. We forget (myself included) that there is help out there if we just ask.
What are you biggest challenges with clients?
[ED] – The biggest challenge is having timelines shift and the “hurry up and wait” of certain projects. Client’s priorities can be constantly shifting and so I have to be flexible and understanding, but it can be a little frustrating sometimes.
[SA] – Most of my clients in the COVID-19 economy are on a strict budget, so that’s been a big challenge. I’ve tried to work smarter to save money for my clients. Saving money for your clients is very valuable for them. Luckily, I’ve never had any horror stories with clients. I have been lucky to work with some great people. Some potential clients I have encountered undervalue the work of a professional science writer. I have had to learn to say “no” to overly demanding and even abusive clients.
[NP] – Most of the time, it is finding clients who will pay well! I’ve had a number of clients come in for a “quick call” where they clearly “pick your brain”, but never hire you! Truth be told, sometimes it feels nice to just chat with someone (considering pandemics and lockdowns), but not getting paid for giving out solid ideas and strategies is not the one! I think once the pandemic is “over”, I will charge for calls too.
How much do you charge clients?
[ED] – I typically charge $100/hour
[SA] – $100/hr
[NP] – I charge an average of $60/hour
Any advice for new or upcoming science writers or content producers?
[ED] – If you haven’t done much writing yet, look for any opportunity to do it! There are so many science blogs out there and many of them accept guest posts. Find a topic you want to write about and start writing!
[SA] – Get my book – How to Get Started in Freelance Science Writing
[NP] – Make contacts with other people in the industry! Reach out to people! And when you have some free time, put out guest posts on other people’s websites (yes, for free!)
Require life science content writing for your business?
A special thanks to all three guests, who have taken time out off their schedules to contribute to this post.
If you need any life science content writing producing, there are three excellent candidates to get started with, and you can get in touch with them via any of the links in their respective bios at the top of this article.
If you are a content writer and would like to be added to the above list (or future roundup articles like this), then please get in touch with me directly!