Author: Amanda Mao, PhD
This month six years ago, I started freelancing.
I had no idea if I’d survive, let alone thrive.
It felt amazing that in 2021, my business recorded six-figure revenue in USD for the first time!
Thank You to Our Awesome Clients
We continue to grow because of your trust.
(Names in alphabetic order. Only included logos of the clients who have given consent.)
Looking back at the past year, I’m both proud and humbled at how much has been achieved.
Talking with a Chinese clinician about a webinar I was helping a client developing, everyone got excited. The clinician was so impressed that she offered to bring up the new concept we were developing to a national advisory board she was on. It had the potential to improve patient care with that specific disease China-wide.
The moment reminded me why I’m doing medical communications: at the end of the day, it is to contribute to patient wellbeing and the society at large, one project at a time.
My niche is bilingual Chinese medical communications, including scientific project management, medical writing, and medical translation between English and Chinese.
So, what did the data say about my services in 2021?
Well, I was well on track.
Scientific project management accounted for 65% of the revenue, medical writing 27%, and the rest 8% was medical translation and editing.
My scientific project management involved managing a clinical trial conducted in China with me based in Australia; publications management for Chinese authors and pharma clients, who aimed to publish on peer-reviewed journals in English; as well as bilingual Chinese medical affairs consulting.
This was done with agency partners having a large Chinese client base.
I love doing bilingual Chinese project management, which is a sweet spot combining my scientific background and cultural sensitivity to communicate with Chinese clients.
In 2021, I welcomed both returning and new medical writing clients. The type of medical writing I enjoy most is literature search and review, which was also what I did most in the past year in this category. Maintaining active subscriptions and thus access to most full-text publications is also a key competitive advantage.
For medical translation services, my team and I continue to provide English↔Chinese translations in both directions. The market is huge and we’ll work strategically to bring in more clients. Last year I branched out to providing English medical editing as a standalone service, esp. for pharma documents translated from Chinese. The service was prompted by market needs. I collaborate with native English linguists who specialise in medical editing. Although only a few projects were pure medical editing, there’s massive potential and we’ll surely continue.
Clients by Country/Region
Our results also confirm I serve clients globally as intended. The No. 1 country I served was Japan, which is where my retainer client is. Our collaboration was so successful that we’ll continue the retainer arrangement this year.
There’s a strong silver-lining effect of the pandemic on my business—clients that were only interested in in-person communications opened up to online forms, such as webinars and Zoom meetings, creating more project opportunities that were otherwise not possible. This was evident by the new clients I gained from LinkedIn (all based in Hong Kong), contributing to more than 1/5 of my revenue. With the ongoing pandemic, marketing to prospects who you never met is essential; and most, if not all, businesses should be ready for it. LinkedIn can be an important platform for B2B companies.
Australia came out the third contributing to my revenue. There’s still a lot of potential working with companies from my new country.
The rest of the countries were China, Switzerland, US and Israel. That’s right—although I do bilingual Chinese medical communications, Chinese companies per se are not my major and direct clients. Instead, I help agency directors outside of China to communicate with their Chinese clients.
Agency vs Direct Clients
My analysis also showed I predominantly worked with agency clients, which accounted for 88% of the revenue, and 12% from direct clients.
Interestingly, all project management requests were from agency clients and all translations were from direct clients.
I’m hoping to have more translation projects from direct clients; so the proportion can change. If so, it’ll be good to have! But my goal remains to be mostly serving agency clients.
Volunteering to the Profession Globally
Besides clients’ work, I enjoy being an American Medical Writers Association (AMWA) international member with its numerous benefits.
Giving is important, too. My team have translated “AMWA-EMWA-ISMPP Joint Position Statement on Medical Publications, Preprints, and Peer Review” from English to Chinese. In December, I hosted a roundtable discussion at the AMWA Southwest Chapter on “How to Attract Your Ideal Clients Using LinkedIn.”
What’s more, I started to co-organize APAC Medical Writers Quarterly Zoom Meetings with Daniel McGowan, PhD, CMPP, MInstD at Edanz, a rebranding and continuation from what Peter Llewellyn at MedComms Networking had done. We’ll continue this year. If you’d like to attend, to be a speaker, or to recommend a speaker, connect with me on LinkedIn.
On professional development, I attended both the annual conferences of the American Medical Writers Association (AMWA) and the Australasian Medical Writers Association as a member. I’ve also completed the highly recommended Stanford course, Writing in the Sciences.
Positive Changes in Life
I’m grateful for positive changes in life, too. I started gardening, which was a lifeline to keep my spirit high during multiple lockdowns in Melbourne. Through attending to plants, I experience peace and hope. Also, my family bought a new car. Last but not least, my partner and I became Australian citizens!
How did your 2021 go? Connect with me on LinkedIn to let me know!