My journey as freelance medical writer in the international medical communications industry over the past 15 years has been challenging. But it’s the best thing I’ve done to improve my work–life balance.
In the pre-COVID era, office politics, commuting and maternal instincts were the main reasons that drove me to kick off my freelance business in 2006.
My son was about to start pre-school, and I wanted a chance to spend some quality time with him on daily basis. I would lose that chance if I went back to a permanent, full-time, office-based role in a London agency.
It hasn’t all been plain sailing since I became a contractor. But here are five reasons why I remain a freelance medical writer.
- Expanded opportunities: Before going freelance, I had spent 10 years working for various healthcare agencies around the South-East of the UK. However, after having a baby, my priorities changed. In 2006, part-time medical writing positions were rare. So I decided to launch myself as a sole trader, based from home. Since then, I’ve had the freedom to tackle a wide range of therapy areas, healthcare media and marketing challenges. This expanded my insight and skills, and I eventually transformed my business into a limited company in 2017.
- Honed creative skills: Working for myself also means I can turn down certain project offers, and give myself time to focus on the projects I’m more interested in. Creative medical writing is my passion. But creative ideas don’t happen automatically when you’re stuck behind a desk all day. So I allow myself time away from work to get inspired and hone my skills through educational courses and webinars.
- A wider view of the big picture: Freelancing has also allowed me to step back and really see the Big Picture in medical communications, general communications, patient needs, and creative marketing trends. These sectors influence and overlap each other in many ways. This insight also gives me a chance to pull ideas from one sector and apply them to another.
- Improved work-life balance: The flexibility of being my own boss also allowed me to strike a better personal work–life balance. I collaborate with clients to meet their needs but I have more control over my time. So I can take regular breaks and spend time with my family when it matters. Running my own freelance business has also allowed me to become a patient advocate and trustee for a national UK charity. So I’m able to set aside time to give something back to society.
- Optimal MedComms rates: Perhaps I could get paid more if I returned to a full-time, high-pressured agency job, but I enjoy working part-time to match the freelance hours and projects that suit me. So while money is important, it’s not my priority, and that’s another key reason why I remain an independent medical copywriter.