The Savvy Scribe

Mindset- From Gig To Business with Tricia Chaney

June 05, 2019 Episode 9
The Savvy Scribe
Mindset- From Gig To Business with Tricia Chaney
Chapters
The Savvy Scribe
Mindset- From Gig To Business with Tricia Chaney
Jun 05, 2019 Episode 9
Carol Bush
From Gig to Business with Tricia Chaney
Show Notes Transcript

Learn freelancing strategies honed by a seasoned professional.  This action-packed episode with Tricia Chaney will transform the way you get work done as a high performing health writer!

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Thanks for listening!
Carol & Janine



Adam:
0:00
Welcome to the savvy scribe, a podcast for freelance healthcare and medical writers who want to start or grow their business, your hosts, Carol Bush and Kelbach, we'll help you build a profitable health writing business without having to spend years figuring it out on your own. Now let's join the conversation. Welcome to the Savvy Scribe Podcast
Carol:
0:22
Today I'm doing a Solo Gig and I'm very excited to welcome our good friend Trisha Chaney. She is a valued member of our talent pool and we've worked together on some pretty fun projects in the past. She actually has been a freelancer exclusively for 14 years. Did I get the number of years right, Tricia?
Tricia:
0:51
Probably exclusively four. And this is 11, but I've been freelancing since
Carol:
0:59
2005. Awesome. So what we'd love to do in the beginning, uh, when we're telling stories to our writer, tribe and the clients who love us, we, everyone loves to hear about your writing, writing journey or how you got started as a high performing health writer. So could you share a little bit about your business and how you started?
Tricia:
1:24
Okay. Um, so my background is in journalism. I have always been writing just from the time I can hold a pen. I have never not been writing. Um, it's funny how I ended up in healthcare because I am not a science person and, but I graduated college and did not want to go into the newspaper business. So I was applying and applying and applying and applying. And the first place that hired me was the American Society of Clinical Oncology. Um,
Carol:
1:58
they call it fan girling here. Oncology nurse. Yes.
Tricia:
2:02
Wonderful job with wonderful people. But what's funny is I didn't even remember applying to the job and they called me to say, hey, we'd like to interview you. And I was like, oh, okay, that's wonderful. And then I hang up the phone and I have to go get out a dictionary and look up with oncology means because I didn't even know. And that was, that was in 2005 and I had been writing in health care since then. It really sparked a love of just everything medical related. There's always something new and exciting happening. There's always information that people really need to get and need to understand and have just very clearly presented to them and um, across all audiences. So it's been a huge learning experience. Um, it's challenging, but it's been really fantastic to stay in that field.
Carol:
2:54
Perfect. So then when you first worked for the, um, for Asco, was that as a, that was a j o B job where you employed or if freelancing opportunity?
Tricia:
3:09
I was employed with them. I worked with them for about a year and then moves. Um, and then I maintained a freelance relationship with them for probably four or five years after full time employment. I'm working on a lot of their meetings related publications,
Carol:
3:25
so that's perfect. Lesson number one for how, because, um, our high performing health writer tribe are savvy scribes. Number one question. After, what rates do I charge is how do I find clients? So number one lesson right there is transition your current job into a consulting or freelancing opportunity. And when you did that, that was brought about because of the move or a transition. Uh, were there any strategies you have played a to man make that freelance opportunity successful?
Tricia:
4:03
I've heard that it's just really maintaining relationships. Um, ask a regularly worked with freelancers, especially around the time that they're meeting because it was just a massive amount of information that got put out and they needed help. And so I maintained a good relationship working relationship with my previous manager and so we stayed working together and then that actually led to her referring me to other publications within Asco and started writing for the Journal of Oncology practice. So that was kind of another year or two years of working with them as well in another capacity.
Carol:
4:40
Okay. So perfect. I didn't even know this was going to be a master class on how to find clients, but strategy number two to get more clients is to ask for referrals from your currently satisfied clients. And did you ask for that referral or did they just give, give connect you, do you remember?
Tricia:
5:01
I think I was just connected. It was a new journal they were trying to launch and they needed, you know, reliable writers and support for it. Um, so my manager was talking to that managing editor and just share my name as a potential cause I think they shared a lot of writers across teams there.
Carol:
5:21
So it kind of worked out like that. And that's really a great focus I think for us to reinforce is that, um, especially in the health niche, that community is really small. Even know we are global obviously in reach. Um, a lot of media companies, a lot of associations, I mean we refer internally so it's very important we refer within the health family. So it's very important as a freelancer to maintain those relationships and um, to remember that the world is really small. So you want it definitely, uh, not burn any bridges because you never know who's connected or related. Yeah, that's very true. So as you are thinking back on your career a little bit, and I know that a lot of our, a lot of our tribe are, um, either getting started or maybe they've been working for as a freelancer for three or four years and they're really looking to ramp up their business. So think about what do you think has been the success to your longevity as a freelancer, and what are some strategies looking back at, um, what were some things they helped you transition and build your business? What have you been most proud of, um, in that area?
Tricia:
6:48
Um, I think one of the big things really is being flexible. I mean, you can be really rigid and say, I'm going to write about this one thing where I'm only going to look for these kinds of publications, but that's going to definitely limit you and take you a lot longer to find jobs. So just being really flexible, being really open to the opportunities that come your way. Because there may be things that don't sound great at first, but you're going to learn something from them. Or maybe the pay isn't right where you want to be, but you take that and you've added to your portfolio. So just doing those things that are a little outside your comfort zone or maybe not 100% in where you want to be, you will learn from them. You will grow your portfolio, you will gain
Carol:
7:31
from those things. So just always pay attention to the opportunities and the potential around you. Um,
Tricia:
7:40
then the other thing is definitely maintained good relationships with prior employers. Both of my early contracts were with
Carol:
7:46
previous employers. I love that. Um, also because you talked about, again, just reinforcing that relationships but being open to the opportunities and some opportunities as you pointed out might not be at your ideal rate, but they're going to up level your skill or make you more marketable in a different area. So you'll actually use that opportunity. Maybe you almost like develop another service line if you will.
Tricia:
8:16
Right. It definitely will expand what you can say you're able to do.
Carol:
8:20
What's the difference do you think? How have you used some of those opportunities to broaden the expertise that you have today and make you more marketable in, in the health, uh, writing nish
Tricia:
8:33
so for me, where then health writing I have written across multiple audiences and types of publication, um, insurance technologies a little bit on policy, um, on, um, small businesses on employer perspective or on the patient perspective. On the caregiver perspective, him on the physician and nurse perspective, I mean it's really kind of spanned many, many, many aspects of the industry by covering all those different audiences. Each thing you learned from one area really informs another area. So just because you're looking at something from a different angle, a small business angle for example, you still kind of understand the patient perspective. So you know, it just gives you more depth and more ability to make connections for your audiences even branching out. So I've written some articles for apartment finder, I'm describing cities and like different city guides and things and even if it's not really related, the style and the tone and having that practice and that descriptive practice really helps. It only helps further your skills in other areas. So even in writing a patient centered article, I now am able to add a little more descriptive language or a little more conversational tone or things like that that I learned from writing about cities or even costume descriptions. And this that. And because you do kind of spanned multiples on roads when you really try to get out there and get started.
Carol:
10:08
Um, another question I have or just in curious about is with the success of freelancing, building this business and having success providing income and opportunity for your family for 14 years, what are some things that you've invested in? Like how did you connect with other people, other likeminded people in your profession? Or what are some tools that you've invested in? Maybe it's a training opportunity or tools in your business that has helped you, um, you know, maintain next success level.
Tricia:
10:43
Great. So it's been very recent in the same with healthcare marketing network that I really branched out and connected with other people. I went it alone for a very long time. Um, and I do not recommend that it's very hard at being stuck in your own head and not being able to bounce ideas off of people and just get quick answers to your questions. You sit there and go on, all right, what am I doing and how am I doing this? And it's just, you know, in the early days of Facebook there wasn't quite as many people to connect with and things like that. So it's very hard to go it alone. And then in terms of investment, I look for as many free tools as possible because I really try to spend as little as possible and early on, you know, try to spend way less than what I'm bringing in. Um, I know you have to invest in your business to some extent, but you want to make sure that you are absolutely getting the most out of that investment. So just a good computer. Um, if you're doing video conferences and things you can get, you know, an external web camera for 50 bucks, you can get word, um, just in really stick with the basic tools and really analyze what you for your specific,
Carol:
11:55
um,
Tricia:
11:56
and then trying to find as many free tools as possible to do your job and only invest in what you have to and what you feel is going to give you the emotional.
Carol:
12:04
I'd love that. So I love also that you're mentioning my favorite topic, which is profitability because a lot of people, um, healthcare professionals, um, our makeup, a large percent of our community and often they don't have any type of business training. So I'd love that you're focusing on, hey, as you're building your business, we want it to maintain profitability so we can, you know, pay the bills for our family. And one way to do that is to leverage your community and leverage free resources. So I definitely love, love, love.
Tricia:
12:44
Yes, there are many of those. I've seen many people start a business and you know, go in debt right from the start and you really don't have to do that. I mean to right?
Carol:
12:54
You, you need Google docs at a minimum. I mean, you don't even have to buy Microsoft office from the start if you don't really need it for a client later after you get your first paycheck. And you know what I loved, I actually dislike working in, uh, Microsoft products. Sorry, not against Microsoft. I love Google. I Google docs and the Google suite for collaboration because it's free like you said. And it allows editing, suggesting collaboration. So it's a great tool to collaborate with partners that you're working on a project or maybe an ebook or a case study or your editor as well as, uh, clients. Definitely. So I'd love, um, real quick to think about, um, as we've talked a little bit about your, your business. One thing that I know that you've really stretched into or has been, uh, a new service line is some of the, like the web copy or it plain language at direct response, copywriting, those kinds of things. So tell us a little bit about how, you know, how you've morphed into some of those other skills and, and where do you see yourself going in your business, um, or, or trends that clients are asking for? Yeah, so, um, when I worked full time, I did a lot of web copy and like web development. I'm not from a design perspective, but from the I'm content
Tricia:
14:31
perspective planning and mapping out and writing it and analyzing
Carol:
14:35
mmm.
Tricia:
14:36
Traffic and things like that. And then in the freelance fear, there hadn't been asked
Carol:
14:40
how much of that for awhile. But, uh, I've done a lot of content marketing. Um,
Tricia:
14:46
it has made up the bulk of what I've done. And then most recently I've gotten back into web copy, which I enjoy because there's a little more big picture, more strategy involved in doing web copy. And, um, and then this year I hope to move into more project management, just kind of pulling together all the things I've learned over the years in producing the content and then doing a little more strategy development and bringing it all together into a more complete plan with, with and blogging and everything else that goes into it.
Carol:
15:24
I know, I love that. And also, I know just from personal experience working with you take, you're very, I think when you pulled out the flexibility, you are very flexible. You're a very calm person and a seasoned professional that um, ebooks, trust, right. A rate right away in collaborators and clients. So do you think maybe that's, how did you develop that or is that a personality that you've always had?
Tricia:
15:55
Um, I think some of it is personality, but some of it is survival. In working with healthcare clients, you get some people who are very opinionated and it's also, you know, very technical. The boarding has to be right and sometimes the correct wording is not always what sounds the best to your ear or something like that. So as a writer in this niche, you do have to be very, very flexible and you really have to listen to the stakeholders and the subject matter experts. And it requires a lot of patience and flexibility to be able to bring together all those ideas, present the information accurately and present it in a way that each stakeholder feels like their message is being portrayed, their audiences being breached and their business is being supported.
Carol:
16:46
And so you actually are voicing what I like to call, you know, the magic dance of, it's all a perfect dance, dancing with the words and never writing and the voice and matching the audience. Um, when thing, I do see sometimes in, uh, folks who are beginning their freelance career, his writers, uh, you know, it's like we create, and these are personal, the words are personal. So some beginning writers, IC take offense to an editor, uh, providing constructive criticism or even their own source that they've interviewed. So how would you suggest, um, it's, uh, some strategies for developing net fixed skin and not taking any kind of criticism personally.
Tricia:
17:41
Right. So it, it helps to really evaluate what the changes are. Um, some people will make what I've always been told her call like happy to glad changes. So changing the word happy to glad simply because happy is not the word they would use. They prefer glad and if you don't own the copy in the end, it's ultimately their say. And so you kind of have to just suck it up and get over those changes. And then you want to really look at the, the real meaty changes, the constructive ones and figure out what you can learn from that. You know, if you're writing for the same client and it made me reproductive medicine, which can be, you know, you get into genetics and you get into these difficult subjects you want to see, all right, am I getting corrections on this? Same thing. Maybe I need to look into this topic more.
Tricia:
18:34
Maybe I need to learn more about this subject. Really take what you can and learn from the comments. And then the ones that are just personal preference, then you have to weigh out who's ultimately signing off on the article is your name on the article. So how hard do you want to fight for it if your name is on it, and then just decide which battles to fight and which ones are best left. You know, ultimately the message is being conveyed is being conveyed well. It's just not your preferred terminology every single time and decide, yeah, just pick your battles.
Carol:
19:10
I love that. I'm always a proponent of, I guess, you know, mom at three t or I learned that lesson when my kids were teenagers and they were all two years apart. And I was like, yeah, I gotta figure out, pick my battle, you know, uh, decide what's worth the emotional investment.
Tricia:
19:31
Yeah. I picked that up when my first one was too, because the stubbornness was already there. And I was like, okay, we're gonna take what we're going to fight over. And if you want to go out in a princess dress and cowboy boots and a cowboy
Carol:
19:45
we had, that is what we're gonna do today. That's exactly right. So our listeners, I'm always love to hear, um, if say, hey care, I'll make sure that when you're interviewing people, we want to talk, we want to hear about the failures. Did you see stuff? I'm like, yeah, but folks in our community, we look at a failure is really not failure. It's a setback and it's something that's giving us information that helps us pivot in our business. So in your career, whether it was, you know, a few years ago or recently, you know, pick something, maybe a setback that you'd be able to share with us where you learn something and you were able to pivot and came out stronger or more profitable or, um, more patient as a result. Yeah. Um,
Tricia:
20:43
one thing I can just maybe speak about right now because, um, last year with a phenomenal year, it was my best year yet for righty. January and February have been my worst month in years, like give you, and so I eat a clients come and go. I mean, you know, they changed their marketing, they changed their budget and whatever. So, you know, I had to, I lost two programs last year in game three. I lost one at the beginning of this year and then gained some other opportunities, but just the work was really, really, really slow personal perspective that be a very bad time or things to be slow. So it's been very stressful. But at the same time I have been wanting to pivot into editing project management a little bit less on the writing. So it's actually given me a little bit of breathing room that I did not have last year to map out some new goals for this year to pursue some new opportunities.
Tricia:
21:53
Um, things like that. I applied for multiple jobs and got turned down from some of them for not having enough experience in that particular niche. But it happens, you know, you definitely get a ladder projection. I mean in 14 years I have applied to many, many things and gotten some in, gotten rejected from a lot. It's just sort of part of the field. Um, it's very competitive because it's remote, so you're competing with people all over the world. There's tons and tons and tons of applications. So you are going to get rejected at times. Um, and then when you don't have much else going on, that can be a little harder. But you will get through it and you will find opportunities. They will come up and then just take advantage of the slow times to educate yourself to look things up too. You know, brush up on a skill that maybe you've been wanting to learn or that has gotten weak over the years or something like that.
Carol:
22:53
I love that because I think it's important as created that we do have time, make time in our CEO life because you're a CEO of your own business. Just like I'm a CEO of my own business that, uh, we have time to think creatively about, like you mentioned the goals are new goals. Is it time for a pivot? Can we take that time to spruce up even our discovery calls with clients or email marketing specifically. So I think that is great, a great strategy, um, to take that time as well as a head of that building the habit of putting money into savings so that you will have, um, you know, income to draw on during those thoughts, slow times because it is cyclical, it's going to come and go. And sometimes over time you may also identify seasons in business that are very typical for the niche.
Carol:
24:00
I don't know if you noticed this, but I have noticed that between Thanksgiving and mid January there's not a lot going on. Uh, and then what I did notice is that again, in like January to February, March, it starts ticking up again where people, it's almost like everyone's, oh yeah, we got to figure out what we're doing for the first quarter and first quarter is already in. But I do think it's interesting. Some people plan far ahead like a year or six months. If we're looking at corporate clients and some people are making their own business pivot and they have to woo real quick. I need content, I need a website and we're making this business pivot and we're launching it in a month. So I definitely love, love, love Tricia that you have not only expertise that you've shared here, um, but within the community itself, to healthcare, marketing, network, Facebook community. I know our philosophy is about, you know, rising tides lifts all boats. I want to thank you for being a champion, um, and sharing your knowledge and also the evidence. So you, you've recently shared some really great tips for people of all levels and I really appreciate that alive. I'd love to know if people want to work with you, how they have, can they connect with you? They can
Tricia:
25:32
connect with me through linkedin would be the primary means. I have a website as well that linkedin would be the strongest way. My portfolio is there. A, my previous clients are there and there's a lot,
Carol:
25:42
a lot of links
Tricia:
25:43
on there where you can find out everything and you can message me directly through Hilton.
Carol:
25:48
Okay, perfect. And make sure you check out the show notes because we will have Trisha's uh, linkedin. Her a connection will be hyperlinked there and all of the other ways you can follow her on Twitter as well. She does a great job at sharing. Um, some am writing am I like to share with us? Would be surprised to know about you.
Tricia:
26:10
I'm very, very, very into 96. The
Carol:
26:13
hip hop, that pretty much all I listened to when I get to be in the car alone or while working out. And I recently over like the past couple of years, started loving to read comic books. So I have quite an extensive comic book collection these days. Wonderful. So do you have a favorite comic personality or series? A monstrous if my favorite right now. Um, yes. And then
Tricia:
26:44
I liked some older ones, like the Sandman and bone is actually a kid's willing, but it's really good.
Carol:
26:51
Okay. And you're going to have to give me those links so I can, okay. Okay. So what led you do you think to reading the comic books?
Tricia:
27:02
Um, my favorite author is Neil Gaiman and then he did the con, the Sandman series back in the late eighties, early nineties. So I went back to read that and then going in the comic book store, my kids fell in love with comics.
Carol:
27:16
Yeah.
Tricia:
27:16
So now the three of us read comics all the time.
Carol:
27:21
I loved that. Oh, so it's really fun and light, but it's a family. It's something that you can do together. Right?
Tricia:
27:28
Yeah. Cause there are plenty of all ages comments. Um, they read like Ninja Turtles and my little pony and um, things like that. And there's some really
Carol:
27:36
fantastic
Tricia:
27:37
graphic novels for like elementary school age readers.
Carol:
27:41
Sure. Thanks so much for sharing and I cannot wait to check out some of those links if you're going to provide for us for the show notes. Thank you so much for taking time today. And we will follow Tricia on Twitter and linkedin and um, for all you have high performing health writers out there. If you're not already a member of the healthcare marketing network Facebook community, please um, there's a link in the show notes we'd love for you to join and you can get to know Tricia personally there in the community. So we'd like to wrap up the very end. I hate telling people it's time to now go get your right on.
Janine:
28:26
Hey, savvy scribes, Janine Kelbach popping in just let you know about our new upcoming group coaching events. The Savvy Scribe Growthlab is a strategic coaching program that can take you from part time freelance work to full time in less than one year. Carol and I are ready to support you with our group coaching trainings, coworking sessions and accountability. Just for a minute, think about this. What if you can experience coaching that would help you create a strategic plan to follow, to start your freelance business accountability to push you through your goals and training tips and tricks into the deep how tos of freelancing and how to do it. It's already well into this year. If you have not had the chance to focus or implement strategies to reach your goals, let us help you by joining the savvy scribe growth lab. Go to our podcast website, show notes for a link to join and make this your best investment yet for your business.
Adam:
29:33
That's a wrap for today's episode of The Savvy Scribe. Thank you so much for listening. If you enjoyed today's show, we'd love for you to subscribe and leave a review on iTunes or your favorite podcast, and until next time,
Speaker 4:
29:45
[inaudible].
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