Freelance writer STANLEY BURKHARDT has a passion for animals. He loves animals so much, he crafted himself a new career. For the last eight years, Stanley has made a career out of writing for local veterinary hospitals -- and getting paid for it.
Burkhardt admits, "I am probably the first writer you have met who has written for veterinary hospitals. My opinion is that many writers don’t see the profit or work potential in writing for vet hospitals, and don’t attempt to secure work from this industry. The other reason is that writers try many approaches to secure work in this industry and fail."
Burkhardt has overcome these obstacles, and many more. Now he's ready to spill his secrets. He has penned an ebook, "Profiting on Puppy Love & Cat Care: A Freelance Writer's Guide to Writing for Local Veterinary Hospitals & Practices," in which he shows writers how they can craft a career out of writing for local veterinary hospitals, just like he has done.
Burkhardt says, "I think it’s important to know that I had no experience or knowledge writing for the vet industry, when I first started out." If you harbor a deep love for animals and enjoy writing and researching, Burkhardt says you are already “halfway there to breaking into this industry.”
The other skill is selling. “Selling is considered by many beginning freelance writers to be the ‘curse’ of commercial writing because it usually requires you to spend more than half of your time selling yourself to prospective clients — and swallowing many rejections — than spending time writing.” In time, selling becomes easier. “Most of my work now comes from referrals and word-of-mouth,” says Burkhardt.
Burkhardt has perfected the way he secures first-time clients in this industry; he advises to “use locality in your favor.” He says, “Take a trip to your local hospital and see if it presently uses any types of print materials. If not, what kinds of print materials do you think this hospital can benefit from? If it has print materials, how can you improve these existing print materials, or what types of print materials would work better in place of these existing print materials?”
Burkhardt always attempts to arrange a meeting with the owner of the hospital. “I tell the prospective owner I’d like to meet with him for 20 to 30 minutes to discuss, in detail, how I’d be able to boost his profits and productivity, and how he and his clients will both benefit. I’ve never met an owner who’d refused to spend some time to find out how I’d be able to boost his profits.”
After the first meeting, Burkhardt gives himself a few days to work on a proposal in which he outlines how he is going to meet the owner’s needs -- whether it’s solving a problem, boosting sales, or increasing productivity -- through various writing projects. Burkhardt will either mail his proposal to the owner or arrange a second meeting. Nine times out of ten, Burkhardt’s proposal usually nabs him a first assignment from a first-time client. “I always pitch a newsletter as the first project. Once the owner sees how a newsletter contributes to the success of his hospital, I am usually given more writing assignments.”
As a writer for five local veterinary hospitals -- two small in size and three big in size -- Burkhardt prefers to sell his services to the larger veterinary hospitals. “Larger veterinary hospitals have more needs to be fulfilled and more problems for you to solve...They’re more likely to need internal and external materials that will help boost their sales and increase their productivity.”
Burkhardt writes all sorts of copy for vet hospitals, but his favorite and most lucrative is writing newsletters. “Every vet hospital needs them. A newsletter can increase the hospital’s sales by pushing products and services, create rapport and build trustworthiness with pet owners by showcasing the exceptional pet care and treatment the hospital offers, and constantly remind pet owners of the hospital’s existence by writing information that is so useful and timely that pet owners take the newsletter home with them.” Burkhardt charges between $300 and $1,500 per newsletter, depending on its complexity and size.
Burkhardt admits that writing for veterinary hospitals is not a top-paying industry, compared to writing for other industries. But he was never in it for the money. “I often wonder if copywriters who write for tar manufacturers, bottling companies, packaging plants, chip manufacturers, cancer-causing cigarette companies, or shady politicians have any interest in the stuff they write or they do it just for the money. I can’t find interest in any of those things and have stayed away from such manufacturers and industries. I think the same is true if one is to write for vet hospitals. You must have an interest — at least to write for the long term. If you love animals, have a curiosity as to how hospitals treat and care for pets, and a sensitive spot to help people, then you can break into this industry and make a good living.”
Burkhardt’s ebook, "Profiting on Puppy Love & Cat Care: A Freelance Writer's Guide to Writing for Local Veterinary Hospitals & Practices" is a primer to break into this industry. His ebook sells for $9.95 at WritingCareer.com, an online ebook store, found at http://www.writingcareer.com/sbk001.shtml
About The Author
Brian Konradt is a freelance writer and graphic designer based in South Carolina.
This article was posted on December 30, 2002