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I’m a freelance copywriter with an interest in writing for the healthcare industry. I recently applied to work in a freelance capacity with a digital marketing firm that specializes in medical device and healthcare-related clients. The marketing firm had placed an ad saying it wanted to expand its stable of qualified healthcare copywriters to handle its growing workload.
I was given a writing test by the agency’s contact, who I’ll call Cindy. It involved writing a 500-word website page on a hospital’s heart surgical services. I completed the project and then was told several days later by Cindy that I hadn’t passed the test.
I requested some feedback on my writing so I could see what I’d done wrong and Cindy replied, “Although your sample showed strong writing ability, it didn’t fully measure up in the areas of patient-friendly language and technical precision.”
Cindy provided a couple of examples, and I could immediately see their point. In fact, had they given me the option, I could have easily made revisions that would have rectified those problems. And, more importantly, I would have known for future assignments what they expected.
I feel as if the writing test wasn’t a fully accurate representation of my capabilities because it takes a while to get used to a client’s writing style and preferences. I felt my so-called errors weren’t so much a reflection of my writing skills but rather my limited understanding of the client’s expectations. If Cindy had given me a second assignment, I feel confident I could have made the necessary adjustments to produce copy that was in line with her requirements.
In any case, I thanked Cindy for the opportunity and she even responded with a very nice note saying that I clearly had talent and drive and that she had no doubt I’d continue to thrive as a freelance copywriter.
Now that I’ve had a day to think about it, I’m not sure I’m ready to give up on this situation. This marketing firm has the kind of medical device and healthcare clients that I want to write for. I believe my writing skills are aligned with the projects they do. And Cindy’s note was positive and encouraging.
Can you offer any suggestions of how I might eventually persuade Cindy to reconsider her decision? Any advice for how I should proceed as a healthcare or medical device copywriter? I’m including the assignment instructions and writing sample I produced for Cindy so you can judge my writing skills for yourself.
Thanks for sharing your story and your writing sample. I can see Cindy’s point of view but I agree with you that if she’d simply told you about those issues, you could have easily remedied them in a second draft.
I can also understand why it was difficult for you to find the balance between delivering clinical information and compassionate, warm-fuzzy statements. After all, they provided you with a ton of factual information to include and set a word limit.
You were smart to ask for feedback. That makes the test a good learning experience for you, and the fact that Cindy replied in detail reveals that she gave serious consideration to you and your writing sample.
Here’s what I might suggest. Keep Cindy’s information on hand. Over the next few months, when you finish writing a particularly nice website, blog post or brochure, send her a link to your latest work along with a note that says something like:
I hope you’re doing well. I’d like to share with you some of my recently completed work (see links below). While you didn’t feel I was a good fit for your medical marketing needs several months ago, I wanted you to know that I am continuing to learn and work at my craft.
I hope that one day soon I will be at a level that merits a second look from your agency. In the meantime, I’ll continue to write for my clients and gain experience. And, if you don’t mind, I’d like to continue to send you the occasional link to my work so you can note my progress.
If you stay in touch with Cindy and continue to show her your ever-improving writing capabilities, eventually you will probably win her over, especially if her needs for copywriters continues to grow.
At the same time, I would caution you against putting all your hopes and dreams into landing Cindy as a client. Look for other marketing agencies that target healthcare clients as well as specific healthcare companies that manage their own marketing in-house. They are all prospective clients for you. Reach out to them, as you did Cindy, and continue to expand your universe of contacts to grow your business.
Finally, don’t let Cindy’s comments or this experience define or discourage you. Focus on what you learned and how you can improve your writing abilities, and not on your feelings of rejection. Let this experience serve as a motivator for you to try harder in your endeavor to build a successful freelance copywriting business. You’re well on your way. Keep up the good work and you will one day soon begin reaping the benefits.