The path to being a freelance health and nutrition writer can be different for everyone. I shared my story of how I became a freelance writer in a previous post. I thought I would give the rest of the team of expert RD writers an opportunity to share their journey as well. Here is Emily Hirsch’s story.
Like many young professionals about to embark upon their careers, I was hopelessly optimistic about the future. All of the years I spent learning about nutrition, which included many bleary-eyed nights studying organic chemistry, biology, physiology, microbiology, advanced nutrition courses (and don’t even get me started on the Krebs cycle) just had to (in my mind) lead to something rewarding, something poignant, something meaningful.
My RD Career Journey
I began my career as a clinical dietitian at a 14-floor hospital in New York City. My early gung-ho days as a dietitian consisted of providing nutrition education to sick and often very inattentive patients, writing progress notes that went unread, and trying to decipher the many different roles of the many different players on a patient’s health care team.
During those early years, there was also a conflict of interest brewing between nutrition education and hospital meals. Much of the nutrition education I provided to patients happened to be in direct conflict with what they were being served for their hospital meals. For example, during breakfast, while providing nutrition education to a newly diagnosed diabetic patient, I would notice them inhaling pancakes with syrup and fruit juice, all compliments of the food service department. I felt so defeated during these days until an opportunity arrived that allowed me to explore the world of freelance nutrition writing.
An Opportunity Arose to Be A Writer
In the hospital I befriended a group of cardiologists that were responsible for churning out a monthly newsletter aimed at preventing and even reversing heart disease. This group asked if I would be interested in writing light-hearted articles about nutrition and heart health. Making extra money as a dietitian? “Count me in” was my response. This is how I got my start as a freelance nutrition writer.
Was I a professional writer at this time? No. But I had gained plenty of writing experience in graduate school and knew this would be a welcome break from the in-patient grind that was wearing me down. My first article was a success and I loved the creative aspect of capturing the attention of readers while weaving humor along with pertinent information that they can actually use in their daily lives.
Branching Out Into Private Practice and Freelance Writing
I shifted my career focus from an in-patient dietitian to an out-patient dietitian where I began to provide nutrition education and nutrition counseling to patients and clients who were poised to make meaningful lifestyle changes.
After working for various companies I decided it was time to start my own private practice which would include counseling clients and freelance nutrition writing. This was a huge leap of faith for me as self-doubt and paralyzing fear began to seep into the many corners of my mind. It was around this time when I read a quote that stuck with me and provided the confidence to move forward with my dreams. “There are people less qualified than you, doing the things you want to do, simply because they decide to believe in themselves.” If other people can do it, why can’t I?
While counseling patients in my private practice I continue to explore and navigate the world of freelance nutrition writing and freelance blogging for various companies needing to step up their online game. I love having the ability to write in my free time, working around other projects and my family’s ever-changing schedule.
My Advice on Becoming a Nutrition Writer
If you are looking to make extra money as a dietitian, becoming a freelance nutrition writer may be just the answer you are seeking. How to go about making money by writing articles begins with reading well-crafted articles and blogs. Being a well-read writer will enhance your vocabulary, enrich the knowledge of your genre, and will help to inspire you.
From there, it’s important to start submitting articles regardless of whether you perceive them as perfect or not. No one gained success in any field overnight. Believe in yourself, read, practice, submit, repeat. These are the key tips in becoming a freelance nutrition writer. Will you likely fail on your way to success? Yes. But that just means you’re in good company.
By: Emily Hirsch, MS, RD
Emily has over 12 years experience in the field of nutrition. In her writing, she strives to bring lackluster research on health and nutrition topic to life. She loves writing about GI health and women’s issues.
Want help getting started as a freelance nutrition writer? Check out my “Guide to Freelance Writing for RDs” or my 6-week course “Freelance Writing for the RD: The Course“.