In this extract from the Writers' & Artists' Yearbook best-selling health writer Anita Bean offers advice on how to find success in the popular and fast-moving health and wellness market...
Read, read, read – find out what’s new and emerging. Research what’s already out there, your competition, and then work out how you can make your product better. Keep an eye on trends and try to stay ahead of the game – be the first to write about a new topic, not the last.
Network with colleagues and experts at conferences; this is also useful for building up a contact list of experts for quotes. Mingle with your audience before and after presentations – what do they want to know, what are their concerns? Social media can be a great place to pick up on what’s trending and on ideas for blogs, articles and books.
Do your research – actually read the magazine you want to write for, so you get a feel of who the readers are and what they want to read about. Get on their level and talk their language.
Accuracy is paramount; always use evidence (not just ‘research says…’) and cite or link to the source or study abstract. Always add a practical element (‘- now here’s how you can use this info…’).
Be adaptive and always write to, not at, your reader as if you were speaking to them. Aim to inspire them, and for your reader to say, ‘Oh I didn’t know that!’ by the end of the piece. Make your article or book unique and different from the competition, not just a companion to what’s already out there.
Ensure your messages are consistent across everything you write (e.g. you can’t be pro-carb one minute and low-carb the next), but be prepared to change your view is new research comes to light.
Just because other writers are raving about a new thing – say, coconut oil – doesn’t mean you have to. Question a trend; where did it start? Often it stems from clever PR rather than science. And don’t believe everything a PR sends you; look beyond the headlines – where did the story come from? Read the original research, and only write about the product if you believe it stands up to scrutiny, not just to fill a column or to generate a grabby headline.
Anita Bean is an award-winning registered nutritionist, freelance health writer and author of 28 books, including The Complete Guide to Sports Nutrition, The Vegetarian Athlete's Cookbook, Food for Fitness, The Complete Guide to Strength Training, Nutrition for Young Athletes and Sod It! Eat Well. Her latest book, The Runner's Cookbook was published in 2018. She has written features for many national magazines, including Good Housekeeping, Cycling Weekly, Runner's World, Women's Running and Healthy, and is quoted regularly in the media.