What is a Byline and Why It’s Vital for Health Writers

by | Jan 25, 2024 | Business Advice, Writing Skills

In every industry, there are industry-specific terms that might not be well known to those on the outside. For RDs like me, even the term RD or RDN might be industry-specific because those on the outside have no idea what an RD is! (RDN stands for registered dietitian nutritionist, which is the same as RD- registered dietitian).

As a new freelance writer, the term byline might be new to you. The basic definition of a byline is an author’s name under the headline of an article. 

But, for writers who are also health professionals a byline is much more valuable than just mentioning your name as the author. Linking your valuable byline (and credentials) to an article is actually what can set you apart from other writers and provide additional value to your clients. 

From establishing trust with readers to paving the way for professional advancement, the byline is a key component of ethical and effective health writing. Whether you’re a seasoned health writer or new to the field, understanding the byline can significantly influence how your work is perceived and valued.

What is a Byline?

A byline in journalism and content writing is a line of text that identifies the author of an article. Traditionally, it appears at the beginning of an article, just beneath the headline, and typically includes the writer’s name and sometimes their role or affiliation. 

Here is an example of a byline of mine, from the popular health website Healthline. 

In traditional print journalism, bylines were a way to attribute articles to their writers, with the goal of accountability and recognition. Having your byline in a major publication is still a great way to be recognized as a legitimate journalist. It is also a way to build a portfolio as a writer, so you can get credit for articles you wrote and leverage that into new work.

As journalism has evolved into the digital age, the byline has adapted too. In online content, especially in health writing, bylines often include hyperlinks to the author’s bio or social media profiles, offering a deeper insight into their professional background and expertise. Today your byline is a vital part of your digital footprint.

Bylines for Health Writers: More Than Just Your Name

In health articles, the byline is especially crucial as it lends authority and credibility to the information presented. Google values content written or reviewed by writers with expertise in a particular field, particularly in the YLYM (Your Life, Your Money) space. 

YLYM includes all health content. This expertise and authority is called E-E-A-T (Experience-Expertise-Authority-Trust) and is vital to helping websites rank on Google. 

But Google wants to see more than just your name and credentials on an article. They are also looking for your qualifications, such as degrees or professional affiliations, which are essential in establishing trust with readers seeking reliable health advice. 

In other fields such as lifestyle or entertainment journalism, the byline might not carry the same weight of authority. In contrast, health writing demands a byline that underscores the writer’s expertise. 

As AI-created content floods the internet, bylines are going to become even more important. In last year’s helpful content update, the websites that were demonstrating direct expertise in the topics they were covering, seemed to fare better. Other websites, that did not demonstrate direct expertise in topics, lost a significant amount of traffic volume.

How to Leverage Your Byline as a Health Writer

Your expertise as a health pro is what sets you apart from other writers. You need to leverage this when it comes to talking to clients and determining what to charge for your work. 

Your marketing messages to potential clients, whether on your website, LinkedIn or in cold emails, should always include mention of your degree(s). Don’t bore them with a long list of qualifications, but do mention that you are a degreed professional and describe the value this can provide to them. 

When considering pricing, writing that includes your byline paired with your photo and bio can be quoted at a higher rate. To have content rank in Google, it is essential for health-related brands to work with credentialed providers in some capacity. You can (and should) charge more for this valuable service.

Tips for Writing Your Byline

Crafting a byline that enhances your professional reputation is an art in itself. As a health writer, your byline is not just your name; it’s a brand, a statement of your expertise and credibility. Here are some practical tips to help you create a byline that makes a lasting impression:

  • Highlight Your Expertise: Your byline should immediately convey your qualifications and area of expertise. Include any relevant credentials, such as a medical degree or a certification in nutrition, to establish authority. If you have a specialization, make sure it’s clearly stated. For example, “Dr. Jane Doe, Pediatric Nutrition Expert.”
  • Be Consistent Across Platforms: Consistency is key in building a personal brand. Ensure your byline is uniform across different publications and platforms. This consistency helps readers recognize and remember you.
  • Include a Personal Touch: While professionalism is crucial, adding a personal element can make your byline more relatable. This could be a brief mention of a personal passion or your unique approach to healthcare. 
  • Use a Professional Photo: Always pair your byline with a professional headshot. A clear, professional image adds a level of trustworthiness to your work and lets search engines learn you are a real person (not AI). 
  • Link to Your Professional Profile: Always include a link to your professional LinkedIn or website. This gives readers the opportunity to learn more about your background, publications, and professional achievements.
  • Keep It Updated: Regularly update your byline to reflect any new qualifications, roles, or areas of expertise. An up-to-date byline provides an accurate representation of your professional status.

Remember, your byline is a powerful tool for building your identity as a health writer. It’s not just about being recognized; it’s about being remembered and respected in your field. A well-crafted byline that consistently reflects your professional persona can significantly enhance the impact and reach of your work.


Ana on her mobile and smiling at camera

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