Here is my journey to becoming a nutrition writer as a Registered Dietitian and how I 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 so I could get started doing that right away. I LOVED counseling my customers on weight loss. My first day at Jenny Craig left me 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 Burnout
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 be a nutrition writer.
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. What if I couldn’t pay my rent as a dietitian writer?
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 and did everything for it myself. Although I never sold more than maybe 30 copies, 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 be a nutrition writer!
Nutrition Writing Full Time
In the spring of 2012, I came back to the US. Due to some personal issues, I 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 several times in Today’s Dietitian magazine and they sought ME out as a contributor!
I have been a writer on and off since 2011. In 2015, I decided to make nutrition writing MY full time thing.
Building a 6-figure Nutrition Writing Business
Now it is 2023. I started writing full time in 2015 when my first son was born. Slowly, I began making the equivalent of my full time RD salary with writing alone.
In 2018, I had my second baby and moved across the country. I was completely overwhelmed because at this time my business also started to take off. I needed help. I didn’t want to lose all I had built. So, I built a team of Registered Dietitian writers, each with their own specialty, to help me out. I now have 10 nutrition writers and content creators working for me.
In 2019, I was able to cross the 6-figure mark in my business. Since then, my business has doubled every year. There is nowhere to go but up!
Advice for Other Registered Dietitians Wanting to Be Nutrition Writers
I think a lot of RDs are unsure how to become health and nutrition writers 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. There are so many nutrition writing jobs out there, you just need to know how to find them. 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 to become writers. Companies are desperate for evidence-based articles by registered dietitians. Why not you?
I want RDs to have the freedom I have. This is why I started helping other RDs become writers through the creation of my Facebook group “RDs who write” where I regularly post resources and nutrition writing jobs. I also have created multiple paid programs to help other healthcare providers start freelance writing. Find my get started guide “Freelance Writing for Health Practioners” here.
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