Freelance Technical Writing as a Career
It is natural for people to strive for more in all aspects of their lives. Professional development and income are no exceptions from this rule. There is nothing wrong with the desire to earn more to feel secure about personal finances and be capable of indulging in things you like. However, many people struggle to find the opportunity to take their career to the next level. If you belong to this category, it may be the time to pay attention to the promising area of freelance technical writing.
We already hear you saying “but I don’t have any technical education or experience! There is no way for me to become a technical writer!” You are wrong, but this is the rare case when you may be glad for being wrong. The main flaw in such an objection is that it does not take into account the true meaning of the term “technical writer.”
The purpose of technical writing is twofold:
- To inform the audience about technical or specialized issues in a particular area.
- To provide instructions on how to perform a task using specific techniques and tools.
Both modes of communication presuppose communicating technical issues in terms digestible for lay people. The point we are trying to make is that the emphasis is to be put on “writer” rather than “technical.” Of course, you need to understand the source material, but nobody expects you as a freelance technical writer to have a degree in nuclear physics.
Therefore, you may be interested in joining the field due to following reasons:
- It is an opportunity to apply your writing skills (the type of skills people often find difficult to monetize).
- You will learn something new constantly.
- The profession is quite lucrative to say the least!
Interested already? Keep reading and check out our tips on how to get started in freelance technical writing.
How to start working as a freelance technical writer
You need to have a particular skill set to achieve success in the field of technical writing. The required skills include but are not limited to:
- Writing proficiency. As we already mentioned, writing lies in the heart of the job. You need to have impeccable grammar and be capable of expressing ideas clearly and concisely. The transition to technical writing may be challenging for people used to writing highly creative text, but having basic writing competencies will make it easy to develop the habit of writing precisely and to the point.
- The ability to learn fast. As a technical writer, you will encounter tones of new information. There is no need to be an expert in everything as long as you can become considerably versed in the topic within a reasonable timeframe.
- Communication skills are vital for a technical writer. In the course of your work you will find yourself in constant need to consult with your clients considering the specifications of their requested project. Also, you must be able to seek advice from the professionals in the field you are writing about.
Creating a portfolio
Gathering a considerable portfolio helps a lot in getting that first gig. How to get a portfolio without having any practical jobs? Be creative! You may spend time and effort improving the pieces of technical writing you encounter in your everyday life to showcase your skills for prospective clients. Imagine you have bought a new gadget that has a really awkward and difficult to understand instructions for use. It is your chance to make things right and add a piece to your emerging portfolio!
Of course, rewriting technical documentation may help you to get the feel of the job and develop needed skills. But it is not enough. You must make sure that people see the samples of your writing. Post them on social media. Make sure that your contacts see them. Spread the word about your aspiration to become a technical writer through all the available channels.
Where to find a job?
As a freelance writer, you will probably benefit from registering on specialized freelance platforms such as Upwork. LinkedIn is also a good place to look for orders. If you are interested in technical writing for a particular industry, consumer electronics for example, you may visit webpages of the companies working in the sphere and check for opportunities.
How much will you get?
The rate of a freelance technical writer can go as high as $60 per hour of work. The medium rates are somewhere in the area of $35 – $45 per hour. Still looks yummy, right? However, you may want to ask for less money than that while making the first steps in your technical writer’s career. This approach will likely help you persuade potential clients to choose you over more experienced freelance technical writers. You may not worry about missed opportunities since the market for technical writing grows rapidly, so there will be time for you to earn a lot when you will create a stable pool of clients.
What are the prospects?
The best thing about becoming a freelance technical writer is that the activity promises more than just a considerable boost to income. You may find your area of interest and either focus on writing for the industry or even pursue a career in it. Also, there is an opportunity to become an in-house writer for a business if your freelance work has been appreciated.