Michelle Guillemard – founder of Health Writer Hub

Michelle is the Founder of Health Writer Hub, a new global community of writers who specialise in health and medicine. Health Writer Hub offers blogs, job listings, mentoring, a professional health writer directory, forums and resources for both beginners and professionals.

Michelle has specialised in health writing for a number of years and has worked with leading medical journals and publishing companies, global health businesses, and health start-ups. Originally from Melbourne, Michelle resides in Sydney’s Northern Beaches with her husband and two little girls.

One year from now you’ll wish you had started today. Six months from now you’ll wish you had started today. So just start!

healthwriterhub.com @michellegwriter facebook


Tell us a little bit about your idea and what made you decide to take the plunge and make it happen?

When I began to play in the freelance writing arena a while ago, I decided to focus on health, because the majority of my professional writing experience had come from employment at health and medical businesses. Interestingly, I had clients coming to me as soon as I put my freelance health writing website online, and most of my clients continued to come through website enquiries. This told me that there was a demand for niche writers in the health space.

I initially thought of creating a recruitment site for health writers and the idea for a full-scale community developed from there; the more time I spent as a freelance health writer, the more I realised that there was no global resource for health writers to learn, network, find jobs, share tips about the craft, discuss important issues specifically related to health writing, find a mentor, and more.

While there are professional medical writing associations, they often have restrictive membership criteria and limited scope. Similarly, there are plenty of writing communities that offer generic writing advice; however, health is an area where content expertise can make or break a piece of writing.

Like many health and medical writers, I believe you need an understanding of health and medical terminology, industry, research, issues, ethics and controversies in order to produce high quality and accurate content. The more professional, relevant medical experience and understanding you have, the better your writing will be. Plus, health professionals tend to prefer to work with writers who have specific expertise in health (my clients have often told me this, and I’ve employed writers for the health companies I’ve worked for as well).

So you could say my passion for quality health content, combined with my interest in the digital space, motivated me to form Health Writer Hub. I’ve always been a technically-savvy writer; I create my own websites, I edit PHP, CSS and HTML. I like to understand how the technology I’m utilising works and I enjoy solving my own problems.

It’s been exciting watching membership and engagement grow since January and I’ve had a lot of positive feedback about the site from my members. So far, so good!

What are you working on right now and what are you most excited about in the next three months? 

I am working with some medical writers and we are producing a series of online training modules. Webinars are great, but I like the freedom and flexibility of being able to access a training module whenever it suits. Last-minute client work can crop up which makes attending webinars tricky. We have some fabulous topics planned and I can’t wait to roll these out in the coming months.

I’m also collaborating with a new medical writing marketplace start-up and I’m looking forward to seeing how this progresses.

I’m not usually someone who ventures out from behind my laptop screen, but I’m speaking at the Australasian Medical Writers Association Annual Conference in Sydney on 29-30 August. The theme is “Overdoing it: tests, treatment & tonics” and I’ll be talking about the business of writing.

How do you make ideas happen? 

I always talk about my ideas with my husband. He runs his own business in the restaurant industry and the entrepreneurial mindset seems to come naturally to him, whereas I need to work harder at it. We like to bounce ideas off each other because we bring completely different skills and perspective to the table.

What challenges have you faced when starting or growing a business/organisation in Australia?

Due to the nature of my business, most aspects have been relatively straightforward. An ongoing issue is ensuring my content appeals at a global level, as health writing can mean different things in different countries – not to mention regulatory issues which are country specific. Also, time (or lack of) is a constant challenge. Balancing Health Writer Hub with freelancing and raising two little girls under three while staying sane is a skill I’m still mastering.

What is one idea you are willing to give away for free?

One year from now you’ll wish you had started today. Six months from now you’ll wish you had started today. So just start!

What people/companies/organisations do you think are doing really cool stuff in your industry at the moment? 

I’m looking forward to seeing how online job seeking and recruiting will develop with businesses like Oneshift in Australia being so successful. I love the Oneshift concept. Also, with online marketplaces popping up all over the place in the freelance industry, it will be interesting to see how this space develops and whether niche marketplaces can succeed.

What role do you think business can play in affecting social change?

I believe social change is all about knowledge and awareness, so businesses with niche followings have a real opportunity to make change in areas relevant to their niches.

Health writers are the vehicles that researchers use to communicate complex medical information to the general public. Our words affect how everyday people choose to manage their health, so we have a responsibility to ensure our content is accurate and informed. Even when we’re writing persuasive or sales copy, we should be honest, ethical and evidence-based – and we shouldn’t choose hype over truth. You only need to open up the health section of a news website to see how misleading today’s health news is. I believe in credible health writing and a lot of the writers in my network do, too.

Speaking of affecting social change, is there a particular charity you’d like our readers to support?

I support Médecins Sans Frontières‎, so I’d love for you to support them, too.

Name 3 websites you would recommend to our readers. 

http://www.reportingonhealth.org/ – this site publishes some fantastic, well-researched health content.

http://blogs.crikey.com.au/croakey/ – an independent mouthpiece for health issues in Australia.

www.blogchicks.com.au – a wonderful and growing collection of women bloggers in Australia.

Name 3 Australians we should follow on Twitter.

@michellegwriter – yep, that’s me.

@stilgherrian – I don’t really know how to describe this guy, but I like his tweets.

@noshamecreative – quirky and unashamedly creative content marketing, just as the name suggests.

We’re aiming to build a community of Australian idea makers helping each other. If you could have one question answered about startups, marketing, social media, accounting, monetization, product development etc. What would it be?

How sustainable is the model of personalisation and self-promotion for business growth in social media?

What’s your favourite bar/café/restaurant? 

I have two girls under 3; sadly I haven’t seen the inside of a bar in a while! But my favourite eatery is not in Sydney (or Australia). It’s a beautiful oyster bar in my husband’s home town in France, named “Chez Titi”, where it’s perfectly acceptable to eat freshly-shucked oysters and drink white wine at 9am on any and every day of the week. Bliss.

We thought it would be cool to crowdsource an annual prize to award to the interviewee’s choice (each person interviewed gets one vote) winner for the year’s best interview. Are you willing to kick in a prize?

I’d love to donate 3 writing mentoring sessions (total value $500).

Learn from over 100 Australians making ideas happen.

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