I thought I would share a bit in this post about how I became a health and nutrition writer as a Registered Dietitian and created the career of my dreams.
A Brand New RD
When I was a brand new Registered Dietitian all I wanted to do was counsel people on how to lose weight. As a student, I got a job at Jenny Craig. I LOVED counseling my customers on weight loss. My first day at Jenny Craig left super excited, I couldn’t believe I was going to be able to help people as a career!
Once I became an RD, I landed my first job as a health educator. I loved it so much, I couldn’t believe someone was paying me to do that job! I would have gladly done it for free….but over the course of a career, things change.
The Dietitian Burn Out
In 2011, after being an RD for almost 5 years, I was burnt out. I felt like every day was the same. The newness of the job had worn off. I would drag myself to work and not feel challenged or inspired at all. I was never a great 8-5 employee. I didn’t like doing things the way the hospital wanted me to do them. I wanted to do things MY way, but I didn’t want to start a private practice. I wanted to write.
At the time, other than starting a blog, I had NO IDEA how to become a writer. I couldn’t even grasp that I could possibly get paid for writing. I mean I would obviously need to write the next hot diet book, right? In my mind, getting paid for writing was only for amazing writers like Elizabeth Gilbert. Who would pay me? A co-worker suggested that I should go part-time at my job for a while and figure it out. But, even though she was giving me great advice fear held me back. I was single at the time and was scared of not making ends meet.
The Brazil Era
At the end of 2011, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. She was planning on going to Brazil for her treatment and suggested I take some family medical leave to go with her. This would allow me to not only help her through her treatment but to figure out my career situation. This time would also allow me to sort out some personal things I was going through. Maybe I could find a new “direction” in life. So, I did. I took 3 months off from work for family medical leave and headed to Brazil.
Becoming a Health and Nutrition Writer
Leaving one’s routine does change everything. Being in Brazil gave me more space and time to figure out what I really wanted. I knew it was writing, I just needed to figure out how to do it. During my free time, I decided to write a book called “How to Actually Lower Your Cholesterol“. I self-published it, did everything for it myself. Although I never sold more than maybe 30 copies, but I was proud I finished it. I was a writer! I also started blogging about my experiences in Brazil.
At the same time, I somehow connected with a fellow RD, Aglaee Jacob. She was ahead of me a bit in the writing game. She inspired me so much when she told me she was making her living by writing online. Per her recommendation, I started writing for a content mill called Demand Media. At the time, they provided articles for Livestrong, SF Gate, and the Nest. By working for them, I was able to get my articles published on several of these sites and I was finally getting PAID TO WRITE!
Writing Full Time
In the spring of 2012, I came back to the US. Due to some personal issues, I had quit my steady RD job and now found myself unemployed. I had $7000 from the sale of my car in my bank account, that was it. I needed to find work. So, I started to hustle. I found a website called Elance (now Upwork) that had job postings for writers. I remember when my first client responded to my email, Smarty Pants Vitamins. I was so excited! I wrote for them for a few years and slowly started building a portfolio between the Demand Media work and Elance.
Since then I have written for 100s of nutrition websites, vitamin companies, and other wellness practitioners. I was even published in Today’s Dietitian magazine and they sought ME out as a contributor!
I wrote on and off from 2011 until now. I also have done many other things since then, like teach college-level classes, get married, and have two kids. Its been a crazy decade.
Building a 6-figure Writing Business
Now it is 2020. When my first son was born in 2015, I decided writing was going to be “my thing”. Although for the first few years I worked a handful of hours in long-term care consulting, a little at a time I have built up a very successful writing business.
In 2018, I had a baby and moved across the country. I needed help. I didn’t want to lose all I had built. So, I created a team of 5 Registered Dietitian writers. Since then, my business has only grown. Last year, the business crossed the 6-figure mark.
I have also started helping other RDs become writers through the creation of my Facebook group “RDs who write” and other resources for RDs who want to be writers, including a comprehensive course for how to get started.
Advice for Other Registered Dietitians
I think a lot of RDs are unsure how to become a health and nutrition writer other than publishing their own blogs or offering to write for free. Although this is one way to do it, the RD credential actually allows you to start getting paid work from day 1. I am not saying you will be able to quit your day job but with a little hustle and determination maybe one day you will.
The point is, if you are an RD, the possibilities are endless. Don’t stay in a clinical job that makes you so bored you could tear your eyes out. Get out there, there are so many opportunities for RDs you just need to find them. I am happy to help any time, just reach out!
Hey, RD want more details on how to become a freelance health and nutrition writer? Check out my comprehensive guide to freelance writing for the RD.