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By the time you read this, there’s every chance I’m currently collapsed on the couch.

While last year I was skipping towards the finish line, this year, I’ve been counting down the days until my summer break.

It’s been a big year on both the professional and personal front, and while I can’t wait to take a holiday, I do think it’s important to reflect on the past year.

So here’s my 2023 Year in Review.

My business turned 10!

In March, The Melbourne Health Writer turned 10!

In March I celebrated 10 years of being in business.

I never planned to have my own business but after being made redundant back in 2013 I decided to ‘give freelancing a go’. Ten years later, I have a profitable business and a reputation for being a leading health and medical writer.

I spent a whole month celebrating (with cake) and reflecting on the last decade.

Here’s how the last 10 years have unfolded and all the lessons I’ve learned along the way.

I went on a retreat!

At the end of February, I was lucky enough to attend the very first Digital Marketing Collective Retreat.

Over 4 glorious days where all our meals were catered for (yes, it was as great as it sounds) I experienced the perfect mix of work, chat and chill in luxurious accommodation and breathtaking surroundings.

Business retreat

Paddle-boarding was just one of the fun activities on the DMC retreat

The retreat was not only a chance to get away from the hum-drum of the office, and the usual family routine, but a chance to meet other business owners, learn from their experiences and be inspired by their success. And they were all so nice and heaps of fun.

With every need catered for and none of my usual responsibilities, I was free to relax and reflect on my business. Time out from the day-to-day, along with treats like massages, beach walks, stand-up-paddleboarding, champagne and lots of laughter, meant I came back replenished and rejuvenated, not exhausted and overwhelmed like I usually do after a conference.

One of the most valuable aspects of the retreat was having one-on-one time with Kate to talk about my business and what I wanted to achieve this year. I came away with a clear action plan and implemented some of these things this year.

I worked with great clients

Once again, I’ve worked with some terrific clients in 2023 – ranging from large organisations to individual health practitioners.

This year I worked closely with Grief Australia (formerly the Centre for Grief and Bereavement) to write a series of articles on different facets of grief. Some of the topics included grief in men, grief in children, how grief manifests in neurodivergent people, and a piece on generational grief in Aboriginal communities. These articles are yet to be published but keep an eye out for them. Visit Grief Australia to learn more about the work they do.

My long-standing relationship with TerryWhite Chemmart also continued this year. TerryWhite Chemmart is one of Australia’s leading retail pharmacy networks with over 550+ stores across the country. It’s a privilege to be able to help them deliver quality healthcare to Australians through the writing of consumer information on a range of health conditions. Visit TerryWhite Chemmart to learn more.

I also worked with HeartKids, an organisation that provides support services and information for parents and carers, young people, and adults with childhood heart disease. While I’m not able to talk about the project I worked on until the official launch in February, I feel very honoured to have been involved in such important work. Visit HeartKids to learn about their work.

Plus, I’ve worked with clients in the disability space, other key State and Federal health organisations, as well as many individual health practitioners.

The Melbourne Health Writer won the 2023 Service-Based Business of the Year Award Click To Tweet

I won an award!

DMC Service-Based Business of the Year Winner

Service-based Business of the Year Award

In case you missed it, I won the Digital Marketing Collective (DMC) Service Business of the Year Award for 2023!

The award was announced at the Digital Marketing Collective Conference held in Sydney. Unfortunately, I couldn’t receive the award in person as my daughter was prepping for Year 12 exams so I chose to stay home and support her.

But they did send me a shiny trophy. Receiving this award was an extra special way to celebrate my 10 years in business.

Special thanks to Kate Toon for creating the amazing DMC community, and to the judges for their time in judging these awards.

I’d also like to congratulate my friend and colleague Rebecca Cofrancesco from Marketing Goodness for winning runner-up in this category.

The other award category was Best e-commerce business of the year. The winner was Sue McGary of French Affair and the runner-up was another friend, Nikki Filia from BE Bangles.

Go and check out their websites.

 

I got some great feedback

One of the things that I most love about what I do is making a genuine difference to other people – whether that’s helping patients and consumers understand health and medical content, assisting health practitioners comply with AHPRA advertising guidelines, or just taking the stress out of content creation for the marketing and comms professionals I work with.

So it’s always a highlight when I receive positive feedback. One of my favourite testimonials I received this year was from Miranda Packer from Word Bird Coaching and Copywriting. Miranda has used my AHPRA Compliancy Check service a few times when writing copy for her clients, so I was delighted that shetook the time to record a video. You can check it out below.

 

 

Have you checked out the AHPRA Compliance Hub yet? Click To Tweet

I built an AHPRA Compliance Hub!

While we’re talking about AHPRA…this year I built an AHPRA Compliance Hub!

It’s no secret that I’ve been banging on about the importance of following AHPRA’s advertising guidelines. And over the years, I’ve written blogs and developed some services and a FREE Checklist to help people navigate this tricky area.

But it kind of felt disjointed. And I wanted my clients and copywriting colleagues to be able to come to one place to find everything they need.

So, I built a Hub – and I’m really proud of it!

In the AHPRA Compliance Hub you’ll find:

  •  FREE articles on various aspects of AHPRA’s advertising regulations
  •  CHECKLISTS (including my FREE Credible Compliant Copy Checklist – if you haven’t already got it)
  •  TEMPLATES & WORKSHEETS to help you write engaging and compliant copy
  •  CONTENT REVIEWS to check for non-compliant issues
  •  WEB PACKAGES so you can have a website that is found on Google, builds trust with your audience, increases patient bookings and complies with AHPRA advertising guidelines
  •  TRAINING & COACHING so you or your team feel confident when writing your own copy

I also developed a sales page for my AHPRA-compliant website packages and launched a brand-new resource – “Words to be Wary of Checklist” to help health practitioners choose the right word when writing their own copy.

Head on over to the AHPRA Compliance Hub to learn more.

The AHPRA Hub

The AHPRA Compliance Hub has a range of FREE and paid products and services to help you comply with AHPRA advertising guidelines.

I continued my role with Jean Hailes

Last year I took up a 2-day-a-week position with Jean Hailes for Women’s Health, after freelancing for them for a couple of years. Jean Hailes is a national not-for-profit organisation dedicated to improving women’s health across Australia through every life stage. Jean Hailes is particularly known for its quality information on menopause.

As part of the Public Health and Education team, I’ve worked with a great team of people to deliver evidence-based content on a range of women’s health issues this year. One of the highlights was developing new content on persistent pelvic pain.

This was a real team effort involving many talented and skilled people. Like all content produced by Jean Hailes, all information is based on the latest scientific evidence and best practice and has been checked by our subject matter experts.

Jean Hailes also runs Women’s Health Week every September.

Jean Hailes Highlights

 

Have you found the Melbourne Health Writer podcast playlist? Click To Tweet

I was featured on podcasts

This year I was a guest on four podcasts!

Podcast episodes 2023

In February I appeared on the UNMISS podcast hosted by Anatolii Ulitovskyi, where we chatted about how plain language can increase engagement. Watch the live broadcast version.

In April, I was privileged to be a guest on the Julie Parker Practice Success podcast. We talked about how dental practitioners can create effective marketing content that not only connects with consumers but is in line with AHPRA advertising guidelines, including the tricky area of using patient testimonials.

June saw me chat with Tim King on his podcast “The Write Shift”. Tim was a very generous host and it was a pleasure to chat about copywriting things, including niching and the wonderful world of medical communications.

And finally, I appeared on Prosper Taruvinga’s Online Prosperity Show. We talked about my transition from a generalist copywriter to a niched health and medical writer, the types of clients I work with, how I help practitioners comply with AHPRA advertising guidelines, how I focus on value over price, and as an added bonus, we delved into my experiences with the supernatural.

The Melbourne Health Writer podcast playlist

The Melbourne Health Writer podcast playlist

BTW – did you know I have a playlist of all my podcast guest episodes? You can access it here.

I ran some training

One of the things I really enjoy is sharing my knowledge with other people through training and coaching.

This year, I ran a Masterclass on “Why plain writing is just plain smart” for The Clever Copywriting School members. In it we covered:

  • What is plain language?
  • Why we need it and when we need it
  • The benefits of plain writing
  • What level should we be aiming for
  • Tools to help write simpler
Speaking and Training by  The Melbourne Health Writer

I love sharing my knowledge with others

There was even an interactive quiz for participants to take part in.

I also hosted a training session on “AHPRA Advertising Guidelines for Dental Practitioners”. In this session, we looked at:

  • What is advertising and who is responsible?
  • Consequences of non-compliancy
  • The most common problems in dental advertising
  • An update on the cosmetic surgery guidelines
  • Tips for creating compliant and compelling copy

Early next year, I’m excited to be heading over to Adelaide to run a day workshop on writing health content for patients and consumers.

I’m also preparing another Masterclass for The Clever Copywriting School members on “How to keep your business afloat when you feel you’re sinking” – something I know a lot about!

If you’re interested in having me present in your organisation, please get in touch. You can also learn more about my speaking and coaching services.

I gave back

This year, my business supported two worthwhile causes — Sam’s 1000 and the Butterfly Foundation.

Sam’s 1000

Sam's 1000 Supporter

Proud to be a Sam’s 1000 Champion

Samuel Johnson from Love Your Sister has embarked on another epic quest – partnering with 1000 businesses to help him provide Precision Medicine for all cancer patients everywhere.

This year, The Melbourne Health Writer had the honour and privilege of becoming one of Sam’s 1000 businesses joining the fight against cancer.

This partnership sits very well with me as I have worked with several cancer organisations over the years. My first full-time job was with the Cancer Council of Victoria, supporting the Women’s Cancer Team. In more recent years as a health and medical writer, I’ve worked with the Melanoma and Skin Cancer Advocacy Network – MSCAN, Cancer Australia, Pancare Foundation, and Ovarian Cancer Australia to create patient resources.

But now I get to help create medicine.

If you’re sick of cancer and wish for a world where effective cancer treatments are available to everyone please consider joining Sam’s 1000 and joining the fight against cancer.

You can find out more at Sam’s 1000.

Butterfly Foundation

In Australia, eating disorders kill more people each year than the national road toll.

Over 1 million Australians are living with an eating disorder. Less than a quarter of those receive treatment or support.

Butterfly Foundation is the national charity for all Australians impacted by eating disorders and body image issues, and for the families, friends and communities who support them.

Butterfly operates a National Helpline that includes support over the phone, via email and online, reaching 20,000 people each year. The Helpline is staffed by trained counsellors experienced in assisting with eating disorders and body image issues. We also provide a wide range of programs for service providers and recovery groups.

Throughout its work Butterfly also emphasises the critical importance of prevention and early intervention strategies in limiting the development of, and suffering from, negative body image and eating disorders.

If you’d like to be part of this important work, head to Butterfly or watch the video below.

 

I did a lot of living!

At the beginning of each year, I choose a word to focus on.

This year I chose ‘live’ and I made a promise that I would embrace all experiences offered to me, especially the ones I would normally say ‘no’ to. It was a commitment to do more of what I love, do things I’ve always wanted to do, but never found time for, and be open to new opportunities.

During 2023, I…

  • camped by a river with friends and read 3 books in 5 days
  • watched the sunrise in the Grampians
  • spent time with my brother and his family when they visited from the UK and met my 11-year-old nephew for the first time!
  • attended a luxury retreat
  • went to the Ed Sheeran Concert at the MCG with 108,000 of my friends
  • camped at Beechworth for Easter with friends and enjoyed icecreams, walks, a treasure hunt, a visit to a winery and watching the sunset over the Beechworth Gorge
  • visited the Lume Melbourne to see the “Monet and Friends” exhibition
  • made a last-minute decision to see Anthony Callea and Tim Campbell in their show “Up Close and Unpredictable”
  • went to two footy matches, including the Prelim Final
  • fell in love with Collingwood football club, marched with the Magpie Army, attended the Grand Final parade, officially became a Pies supporter, and watched them win the Premiership!
  • attended three Australian Girls Choir concerts and watched my daughter sing at Breast Cancer Network’s 25th Anniversary Field of Women event held at the MCG
  • enjoyed a winter weekend in the Grampians where I visited the Bunjil Cave which had artwork dating back over 1000 years, and we went to a restaurant where robots delivered our food
  • celebrated our doggie’s adoption day and her 10th birthday
  • attended Lightscape at the Royal Botanical Gardens in Melbourne
  • celebrated my daughter’s 18th birthday
  • attended the 10th-anniversary conference of Fiona McIntosh’s Commercial Fiction Masterclass (NatCon) in Adelaide where I treated myself to 5 days of luxury accommodation
  • celebrated our 26th wedding anniversary
  • renovated part of our house
  • went to the “Friends Experience in Melbourne” and re-enacted the famous ‘pivot’ scene
  • celebrated my birthday with breakfast, afternoon tea and two dinners!
  • had my in-laws stay with us for 13 nights
  • celebrated my daughter’s high school graduation
  • celebrated my son’s 21st birthday
  • continued with my training program and (mostly) daily walks
  • read some great books and watched some brilliant movies and TV shows.

As you can see, it was an action-packed year full of new and fun experiences, celebrations, and people I love.

2023 was a big year in business for The Melbourne Health Writer. Find out why. Click To Tweet
A year of living

Just a handful of the fun things I did in 2023

 

Looking forward

Reading back over this review, I can see why I’m so tired. I’ve done a lot this year!

As for what 2024 holds, to be honest, I’m not entirely sure.

The beginning of the year will kick off with some interstate travel. The first week of January our family will be travelling to QLD to celebrate my in-laws’ 60th wedding anniversary. It will be the first time that the entire family will be together, including my niece who lives in Canada.

At the end of January, our family is heading back up to QLD to spend 2 weeks on the Sunshine Coast. It’s our little reward for getting two kids through high school.

And a couple of weeks later, I’ll be ducking over to Adelaide to run a training day on health writing, which I’m looking forward to.

I know I’ll continue running my business and I have plans to expand my AHPRA compliance services further.

I’m also keen to work on important and interesting projects and do work that I feel good about.

But other than that, there’s a lot that remains a mystery, because next year is going to bring some big changes.

My son will be transitioning out of full-time study to full-time work and part-time study, and my daughter will be off to uni, so it will be a very different dynamic at home. We’ll also be without the Australian Girls Choir, as my daughter finishes her time with them this year, so we may feel like something is missing for a little while.

Given the changes afoot, and my 10th business birthday celebration this year, I’ve chosen a word for 2024 that will help me embrace these changes and move forward into a new chapter.

But I’ll share that when I come back to work in January.

Final thanks!

Cheers to 2023Finally, I’d like to thank everyone who has chosen to work with me this year, and an even bigger thanks to those who provided me with wonderful testimonials. Positive feedback really does make a difference.

Thanks to my fellow copywriting colleagues who have been such a source of strength and inspiration this year.

And of course, my family – because without them, I couldn’t do what I do.

Finally, have a very happy and safe festive season. May it be a happy and restful time when you can reflect on the year just gone and recharge for 2024.

See you next year!

Cheers
Nerissa

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