Technical Writing is a profitable and challenging way to employ your writing skills. Software, hardware, and manufacturing companies will always need good Technical Writers to create clear, user-friendly documentation.
Just how does the freelancer locate Technical Writing jobs? Here are five creative ways.
Search for Start-ups
Software start-up companies will always exist and can be a gold mine to a Technical Writer. These companies want to present the image of being established, yet may exist on a shoestring budget where they can employ a writer only as needed. Build a good relationship with a start-up, and you may have a dependable source of repeat business.
Finding these companies takes a bit of research, as they often try to mask their start-up nature. If your local newspaper offers an automated search, use that; otherwise, settle in with the employment pages. Search for terms like “start-up” or “start up”, “young, energetic company”, or “growing company”. Don’t be discouraged if the ad is not for a Technical Writer – make a list of those you find. Once you have a list, send these companies your information. Stress your experience and your availability on a project-by-project basis, and that you have your own equipment (a big plus to a company that may not have accommodations for a writer).
A trusted network of peers is an important asset. Seek out other freelance Technical Writers at jobs, conferences or networking groups. Use email or occasional coffee meetings to stay in touch with those you like and respect. When you are lucky enough to decline an opportunity, pass the information along to your peers. Or consider splitting a job between yourself and a trusted colleague.
Sharing your leads will almost always result in leads being passed back to you someday. Also use your network of peers to keep updated on changes in companies, tools and technology.
Conferences for technical communicators are held in many major cities. In addition to keeping you in touch with others in the field, these can be a major source of contacts. Try to attend one each year. If the conference fee is high, inquire about volunteer opportunities in exchange for a discount admission, or explore if the fee is tax deductible.
At the conference, strive to collect contact information. A printed list of attendees is valuable, if the conference provides it. It hands you a ready-made list of companies that hire Technical Writers. After the conference, review the list and develop a mailing list of potential clients. Draft a cover letter to the contact person, indicating where you met, and ask them to keep you in mind.
If an attendee list is not provided, collect the business cards of those you meet and add those to your mailing list.
If you have knack for public speaking, and enough experience in the field, consider teaching an introductory class on Technical Writing at a local night school. Being in a teaching position spreads your knowledge of the field and circulates your name. Many community centers are open to proposals for new courses; draft a course outline and present it to the person in charge of curriculum. You can then also add this impressive title to your resume.
Expand your Horizons
Writing careers lend themselves to working at home, and Technical Writing is no exception. This opens up even more opportunities. Explore the nationwide job boards for telecommuting positions. Read trade journals – such as software, small business, or technical documentation journals. Many have an employment section. You might also consider placing an ad for your own services.
With any freelancing career, creative marketing is key to profits. Schedule time each week to do some searching, and begin your profitable Technical Writing career!
Debbie Swanson has been running a home-based writing business for eight years, specializing in business and technical communications. She has also published many freelance articles on parenting, writing, and other topics. You can visit her website at http://www.swansonwriting.com.
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