How can I make more money as a freelance writer?

By | 2022-02-08T14:46:33-05:00 November 26th, 2008|0 Comments


Dear Donna,

I needed to stop practicing nursing about eight years ago for health reasons. I am on permanent disability. To stay active in nursing, I’ve been freelance writing for various nursing magazines, advocating for nursing in the political arena, writing legislators about our healthcare system, and writing for the National Nurse Initiative.

However, nursing magazines pay just enough to buy groceries for a week (though I’ve worked long enough and reliably enough for one magazine to be paid more). Magazines still give my work to an editor to edit, and that editor gets about five times the amount of what I’m paid when I’ve done the research, copyediting, fact checking, and spell-checking. Bottom-line, they need to do precious little to my work.

Magazines like Prevention, Ladies Home Journal, Health, etc., either have in-house writers or outsource their needs. It is terribly difficult for an RN without a degree in journalism or a related field to break in to the chosen few. Do you know of a way that I can make more money than I currently do from home? I physically can’t be a reliable hourly employee, to show up on time for anything, but I can be relied upon to do flexible, 24/7 work, as some days I can barely get out of bed. I receive Social Security Disability benefits, and there is a cap on what I can make monthly in addition to SSD.


Dear Donna replies:

Dear Annie,

You don’t need a degree in journalism to make a living as a freelance healthcare journalist. Your RN credential is very valuable here. There are hundreds of healthcare publications, both print and online, that pay writer’s to write, some more than others. Likewise, there are thousands of individuals making a living writing in this specialty. You talk about magazines that outsource their needs — they outsource to freelance writers. That’s how you have to market yourself. There is much more to learn about this business than you might realize, and you do have to become a businessperson. Start doing some reading about what it takes to become a freelance writer. There are plenty of good books in the public library on the subject. Join and get connected to the American Medical Writer’s Association and the Association of Healthcare Journalists .

Given your circumstances, as well as the apparent writing acumen and experience your already have, I think this is your best route. Just because you haven’t been as successful at it as you’d like doesn’t mean you can’t build a viable writing business.

You can also contact some medical transcription companies to see if they have anything for you. Find them in the yellow pages of your phone book. And be sure to visit, a Web sited dedicated to nurses with disabilities.

My best wishes,

Donna Cardillo, RN, MA, well-known career guru, is Nursing Spectrum/NurseWeek’s “Dear Donna” and author of Your First Year as a Nurse: Making the Transition from Total Novice to Successful Professional and The ULTIMATE Career Guide for Nurses: Practical Advice for Thriving at Every Stage of Your Career. Information about the books is available at and, respectively. To ask Donna your question, go to Find a “Dear Donna” seminar near you: Call (800) 866-0919 or visit


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