I met Alicia Joy a few months back on twitter (gotta love social media) and found she was a nurse who coached other nurses, helping nurses make career changes. I also discovered she is a writer, and has written an ebook called “The Nurses Guide to Writing an eBook.” Of course I bought it because at the time that’s what I wanted to do, write an eBook (almost done!)
I love her writing style so I asked her a few questions about how she got started and advice for other nurses who want to be writers. She gave awesome tips and resources on becoming a successful entrepreneur. So without further ado…..
Meet Alicia-Joy Pierre RN, a Nurse Entrepreneur
1. How long have you been in nursing and what areas of nursing have you worked in?
7 years. I became an LPN in 2005 and then an RN in 2007.
Areas I have worked: Med/Surg, Psych, Home Health (continuous & intermittent care), case management, nursing informatics.
I have done a lot of different areas of nursing. I was always interested in exploring different specialties so I would usually work 2 jobs or full time doing one specialty, and per diem doing another.
2. When did you start your nurse entrepreneur business and tell us what you do?
I have been “dabbling” in entrepreneurship for 3 years now. I started writing for health care providers and then gradually started coaching other nurses who needed life/career change guidance.
I am an avid reader, learner, and explorer who has studied everything from coaching to marketing to business. For as long as I can remember, I have always been studying different careers and different concepts such as sales & marketing. That’s just me. Some people prefer to focus on one thing only in life. I, on the other hand, feel most engaged when I am involved in different projects. I used to think that was a bad thing. Now I accept it. It’s just a matter of being organized and having direction. Being my own boss also allows me to do this. When you work for someone else, they typically determine what you will focus on and that takes up a lot of your time.
So anyway, for a period of about 2 years I was freelance writing and coaching, while maintaining full time employment as a nurse. Then at the end of 2011, I transitioned from my J-O-B and I am not looking back. Deep down I always longed for the autonomy and freedom that entrepreneurship offered, but fear stopped me from stepping out. In addition, I was unsure of what exactly to do to earn money to pay the bills and eat. What really helped me make the transition, was realizing that starting a business does not have to be a colossal undertaking.
I think the best thing for individuals seeking to break away from a J-O-B is to think of earning income. Not starting a business. Let me repeat that; earning income. This could be freelance consulting, or coaching, or writing. These are all things that have very low start up costs and are not as complicated to get off the ground. I think what stops a lot of people from becoming independent is that we have this idea that starting a business means renting office/retail space, hiring employees, getting funding, purchasing equipment, and on and on. Although some businesses do require all of this, these aren’t necessarily the types of businesses I coach nurses to start. Simply because I think that traditional brick & mortar businesses don’t fit my preference, and are harder to start. There’s nothing wrong with that type of business, it’s just not for me right now.
3. You’ve written a few eBooks, so tell us how you got started writing?
I have always loved writing. Whether it was professional or personal, writing has been a joy of mine for years. When I heard that there was such a thing as copywriting, or writing that sells/engages/persuades, I was fascinated. I began reading almost anything I could find about copywriting. I read books by some of the most renowned copywriters and advertisers (including Dan Kennedy, John Carlton, and Claude Hopkins, to name a few). I also took copywriting courses and began to market myself to health providers who needed writing for email campaigns, websites, and other online brochure material.
4. What advice would you give to nurses who want to become writers?
I would invite nurses who are interested in writing to explore their voice and their writing interests. If you have an interest in writing, first figure out what type of writing interests you the most (prose/poetry/copywriting/medical writing such as CEU’s-yes, somebody has to write them-maybe it could be you). Of all the different projects I am involved in fundamental to it all is my strong belief that you must do what you enjoy. If you do not, you will probably be miserable and life is just too short for that. It sounds idealistic, but it is not. You may not realize it, but all around you are people doing exactly what they enjoy and earning money doing it. What does that have to do with writing? Well, I say all that, because before you jump into writing, I encourage you to explore what you really are interested in. Don’t think about what you can earn money from or what is popular. Think about what sparks your interest first, and then figure out if/how you can earn money from it. Then, do research on it and start. “Whatever you want to do, do it now. There are only so many tomorrows.” -Michael Landon. I love that quote and it reminds me everyday to not keep putting things off til tomorrow. Start now.
Writing is free, and the more you do it, usually the better you get. Most of us have a story that is yearning to be told. Or, we have useful information to share with others. Most of the things we have mastered we take for granted. But each and every one of us has something, or many things, that we know about that someone else wants or needs to know. From simple things like surviving nursing school, to making it through a tough/traumatic experience, to more practical things like how to sew a sweater. These are just random examples. My point is, you know more than you think you do, and there are always others out there seeking knowledge you may have.
When I created my first eBook I was eager to share the knowledge I had gained from working in non bedside nursing jobs and talking to other nurses who had non bedside jobs. Then, other nurses were asking me how I created the eBook and how they could create their own. So I created The Nurses Guide to Writing an eBook to walk you through the process. The internet has broken down so many barriers that existed before. Gone are the days of having to secure a publisher for a “book deal”. There are other options now. We all have the opportunity to share our stories, publish them, and get them out to as many people as we can. And it can be done quickly. I think that is a great opportunity for us nurses who typically feel that our voices are not heard.
Also, anyone who wants to write, should read a lot. I cannot emphasize the importance of reading enough. It is especially useful to read literature in the particular genre that you are interested in writing about/for. I am a voracious reader (as evidenced on my nerdy website all about books & travel and I believe that reading has helped my writing come alive. But don’t just take my word for it, writers worldwide agree that reading a lot is essential for writers.
In fact, another book I highly recommend is Stephen King’s On Writing. Whether you are a fan of Stephen King or not, he arguably is one of the most prolific writers of our time. I believe he has written about 50 books with most of them being best sellers. It is fair game to say that he knows a thing or two about writing. Throughout that excellent gem of a book (On Writing), there is a theme. That theme is this: to get better at writing, you must do two things; read a lot and write a lot.
I would also suggest that you get guidance. They say “no man is an island” for a reason. There is no way I could have build my income streams on my own. I have completed training programs, gone to seminars, had coaches, etc. Mentorship has been vital to my success.
Lastly, on this subject, I must encourage nurses to change their mindset and not be intimidated by writing. Most of us have a concept that writers are these prolific, amazing grammar gods. On the contrary, many forms of writing are more casual than you can imagine. For example, copywriting (which is all about writing advertisements or content that sells, engages, or persuades) has very little to do with grammar. In fact, it is more conversational. Most verbal conversations do not follow strict rules of grammar. Copywriting is the same way.
When I figured that out, I felt so relieved. I do brush up on grammar from time to time, but I don’t obsess about it. Also, I use an editor when I am writing for corporate clients. Another book I highly recommend for anyone even thinking of writing is Strunk & White’s Elements of Style. I keep this little book handy, and frequently read passages from it to brush up on my grammar; it is definitely not my forte (grammar, that is).
5. What do you love most about being a nurse entrepreneur?
I love the freedom and independence. I make my schedule. I choose the type of clients I would like to work with. This is a biggie coming from nursing, in particular floor nursing. I also get to infuse a lot of creativity into my work. It is a wonderful thing to come up with an idea for a product or service, design it, and see it through to fruition.
About the Author: Alicia-Joy Pierre, RN is a writer & and nurse career coach. Alicia-Joy enjoys helping fellow nurses to connect with their inner genius and make career transitions that make their hearts sing and their purses happy (and wallets too.-can’t forget the guys). Find out how Alicia-Joy can help you, click here – Transitions In Nursing.
WoW, lots of great information, Thanks Alicia-joy!