How to succeed at freelancing as a Registered Dietitian

How to succeed at freelancing as a Registered Dietitian

Harriet Smith is a freelance dietitian based in Surrey, UK, and the owner of She works both as a Health Writer and as a Consultant Dietitian. And has now founded her company HRSCommunications.

We interviewed Harriet to learn more about how freelancing helped her find a flexible solution for her chronic health condition while still doing what she loves - nutrition and dietetics.

Harriet is focused, committed and living proof that with willpower professionals can do what they love most. Here's her journey as a freelance dietitian.

"I was getting offered great jobs, but in my heart, I knew I needed to go freelance and make a success of it."

Why did you decide the follow the path of Nutrition and Dietetics?

I had spinal surgery seven years ago and afterward, I lost a huge amount of weight in a short amount of time (3 stone in several months). My recovery was hindered, and I was hardly eating anything due to the pain and medication side effects. I was referred to an excellent NHS dietitian who gave me sensible healthy eating advice for weight gain. From then on, my recovery was rapid.

I’d always been interested in science, food, and people and this personal experience encouraged me to pursue a career in dietetics. I had to go back and do a maths A level and left my previous degree (Medical Biochemistry), but several years later I graduated from King’s College London as an RD!

When did you decide you wanted to work as a freelance dietitian?

About six months after qualifying as a dietitian I decided to go freelance. I didn’t really have an option - I have multiple chronic health conditions which meant that I needed to find a job that was flexible and enabled me to mainly work from home. I had tried commuting, flexi-working, etc. and it just wasn’t working for my health.

It was frustrating, as I was getting offered great jobs, but in my heart, I knew I needed to go freelance and make a success of it.

Prior to going freelance, I had spent several years building up my health writing skills by writing for magazines. I also completed a 3-month internship in the Health team at a global PR and marketing agency in London. Ultimately, I knew I always wanted to build a career in writing and health PR (public relations).

I do other bits of freelance writing and public speaking for magazines, food, and nutrition companies when I find the time!

What's the best strategy to get new clients as a freelance dietitian?

I have found a niche area - there aren’t many RDs working as health writers. I suppose my added USP is that I have had excellent training from a leading PR & Marketing firm. I already had great connections from magazines which I’ve previously written for as well as the PR companies. When I told people I had gone freelance, I was fortunate that I was offered some paid opportunities.

I also won a writing award just after graduating for the Complete Nutrition Magazine ‘Writer of the Year’ in 2018. Being able to pitch me as an award-winning Health Writer has been helpful in securing work too.

I work two days per week for a PR agency, 2 days writing for clients, and one day per week seeing clients at a local health club.

5 tools you cannot live without to organise your day and your work?

  • Nutrium for all my patient records;
  • My calendar on my iPhone;
  • My Apple Mac;
  • Google docs (where I save all my writing. It allows clients to edit it easily too);
  • Dropbox for Business (great to save all my client projects without clogging up my computer’s memory).

Harriet has been working with Nutrium in improving her clients' follow-up alongside what she loves most, informing the community about nutrition in an evidence-based way.

If you'd like to get started as a freelance dietitian writing check these 6 steps on how to start blogging.