Happy 2022! I was thinking that it had only been a few months since I’d posted anything on my website, but come to find out, it has been OVER A YEAR since I made an appearance on here. Let me tell you, much like everyone else in the world, these last couple of years have been challenging and my inspiration to write on my blog, or post anything on social media, has been very inconsistent. The wheels have still been turning in my freelance writing business but I just haven’t been able to get myself to write for my own blog on a regular basis. I’m not sure that I will ever get back to that – I’m just riding the waves of inspiration and writing when I feel pulled to share something. I recently dusted off my DSLR camera, so I’m hoping to bring more recipe posts to the website sometime in the future.
I wanted to take some time today to reflect on how freelancing went for me in 2021. I know there are lots of RDs and RD2Bes out there who are looking to get into the freelancing space…and it’s no wonder why. Freelancing brings a dose of freedom and flexibility that aren’t always provided by traditional dietitian jobs. For the most part, you can choose your clients, choose your schedule, and you can even choose how much you get paid. There are so many options for what you can do as a dietitian freelancer, too. My experience thus far has been mostly in the writing space, but I know dietitians who are offering freelance recipe development, menu planning, and more. I hope that sharing more about my experience with it will inspire other RDs to explore this area, whether they want to freelance full-time, part-time, or just on the side.
Another reason I feel compelled to share about this to show the many different ways that you can use your dietitian skills in the freelance space. There are many food and nutrition-related businesses out there that don’t have a dietitan involved in their content creation, and it’s such a shame! Dietitians have so much to offer beyond patient care, and I’m so glad that I’ve made this realization.
One major shift that I had in 2021 was my job change. After working at Open Arms of Minnesota for 5 years, I moved on to a new position as a Marketing Manager and Faculty Advisor for Be Well Solutions Dietetic Internship. The role with BWS DI started out part-time, so I was actually freelancing for a good chunk of my weeks for half of the year. That was a fun experience because I had always been freelancing “on the side” of my full-time jobs, so it was interesting to be able to have that much time to dedicate to it. Now that I’m full-time with BWS DI, I’m back to freelancing on the side. Right now, I’m probably dedicating between 1-5 hours to it a week, depending on the projects that I have going on.
Here’s an overview of how I made money as a dietitian freelancer in 2021!
Freelance Opportunity 1: Social Media Management
This year was the first time that I started making money from managing social media accounts. I had some experience with this before, but it was mostly just one-off content creation rather than managing entire accounts. I actually started freelancing as BWS DI’s social media manager in January of 2021 (and that’s what led me to my full-time position with them)! This was a lot of fun, as I was developing content specifically for nutrition students…and it’s still a huge part of my job with them.
The experience that I got from managing BWS DI’s social accounts led me to a freelance position with a local Twin Cities-based nonprofit, Roots for the Home Team. I can’t express enough how much fun it has been to manage these accounts. I love the creativity that’s involved and being able to bring awareness to what both of these amazing organizations are doing for their communities. I would say one con to managing social media is having to keep up with the trends and the algorithms, which is way outside of my comfort zone, but it has been an interesting learning experience.
Freelance Opportunity 2: Writing for Food Blogs and Other RDs
A major source of my freelance income in 2021 was writing for food blogs. One of the main ones that I wrote for last year was Fork in the Road (FITR), which is a food/sustainability blog founded by a fellow dietitian, Kristina Todini. I’m not sure the exact number of blog posts that I wrote for FITR in 2021, but I know it was a lot! Kristina also involved me in some other projects that she had going on in her business, including the development/design of freebies, online course creation, and more. When I was part-time with BWS, I was freelancing for Kristina about 40 hours a month.
In 2021, I also wrote blog posts for Pina Bresciani, who runs a food blog focused on traditional Italian recipes. Writing for Pina has been so much fun and I’ve learned a ton about Italian cuisine.
And last in this category is the work that I did for Amy Gorin, another dietitian. I only wrote one blog post for her this year but will likely be writing more in 2022.
If you’re an RD or RD2Be who’s interested in making money from writing, and you don’t quite have your own business set up yet (or you just don’t want to have your own business) — freelancing for other RDs is a great way to get your foot in the door. It’s a fantastic way to learn about SEO, marketing, and business management. Not to mention a great way to get inspired in the kitchen when you’re writing about food all day 🙂
I know RDs like to hire other RDs and nutrition students to support them. I got connected with both Kristina and Amy through some RD Facebook groups that I’m in, and Pina is a friend of Kristina’s, so that’s how I got connected with her. It’s just a matter of networking and putting yourself out there. If there’s an RD you admire, it couldn’t hurt to just reach out to them to see if they need help with writing or anything else in their business.
Freelance Opportunity 3: Writing for Health Websites
Compared to other years, I didn’t write much for other health websites in 2021. This is mostly because I was busy with my other freelance opportunities and I just wasn’t dedicating as much time to searching for writing jobs and pitching. I did send a lot of pitch emails at the beginning of the summer, but I didn’t get a response from many (and I also didn’t follow up which is a major reason for not having many opportunities in this area). I did have the opportunity to write a bit for Hurry the Food Up, a website focused on plant-based recipes, but that was really the only “other” writing that I did.
I’m not really sure what 2022 will bring in terms of freelancing. I will still be freelancing for all of the same clients, including Fork in the Road and Roots for the Home Team, but not for as much time as I was before my job became full-time. Something I focused on in 2021, that I want to continue to do in 2022, is to only take writing gigs that I genuinely want and know I’m going to enjoy. I used to take writing jobs just to write, and not because I felt really passionate about the content. Now that I have plenty of samples and experience, I want to be intentional about the jobs that I take. This is in an effort to not burn myself out and also to make sure I continue to enjoy this work.
Another thing I want to focus on is pitching–and making sure to follow up on those pitches. I’ve learned that you can’t send just one email pitch and expect to get a response. Pitching article ideas is one way to “take control” of writing/freelancing because you get to decide who you want to work for and what you want to write about.
Thanks for reading my reflection on my dietitian freelancing journey in 2021!
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