Before I got my feet wet as a technical writer, I thought the field was about drawing up instruction manuals or legal documents. Maybe at a higher level some of these people got to write NASA reports or top-secret government stuff, but the options for technical writing for someone lượt thích me were probably limited to explaining how lớn put together a cabinet or work a coffee machine.
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Despite what I thought was a complete lack of technical knowledge, I landed a contract job writing eLearning course material that teaches sales representatives how to sell software. Weird, right? The gist was this: I would read through a bunch of source documents, try to lớn make sense of the information & structure it inkhổng lồ four lessons based on an outline provided to me.
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But let me go baông chồng. When applying for the job, I was asked lớn complete a “writing assessment” that all contractors are required to lớn take khổng lồ determine their skill cấp độ. I almost gave up before even starting. When I read the instructions, I didn’t underst& half the words onscreen, let alone what I was supposed to vày with them.
So I just did my own thing; I wrote a marketing blurb about the company, based on its trang web nội dung and whatever else I could find online. My hope was to lớn show them I could at least vày research và put words into grammatically acceptable sentences.
I guess it was good enough. A few days later I was given an assignment, for which I would be paid more money than I’d earned in the last six months.
Then one day I saw a job posting that told me the company was looking for a full-time writer. I jumped at the opportunity—& got the job.That first project was hard. I cleared out my schedule and locked myself in my office for an entire weekkết thúc. When I finally finished it, I got paid promptly. And I was asked lớn bởi another project—one that made the difficulty of my first akin lớn something called “How khổng lồ Zip Up Your Fly: A Post-Urination Guide.”
But the more I familiarized myself with the industry jargon, the more this type of writing started khổng lồ feel natural. And although I still have plenty to lớn learn, I’m now twice as fast at completing an assignment than I was when I started. And new types of projects became open to me: editing a PowerPoint slide, writing catchy marketing copy & performing chất lượng assurance on a completed course.
Here are some of the things I’ve sầu learned about this market:
There will always be work. We’ve sầu been hearing talk for a while about the changing face of journalism, but technical writing isn’t going anywhere. Companies will always rely on the written word lớn communicate, teach & sell.
Although my ability to lớn extract critical business issues from an SME transcript may be less lãng mạn than, say, my novel about low-income, spirited lesbian waitresses struggling with addiction (that’s a real—unpublished—thing I wrote), the former pays the bills, promises growth and affords me new joys in life.
You learn as you go.
The work is straightforward. Although there are creative sầu aspects to lớn technical writing, most of the writing I bởi is black & White. “In this lesson, we’ll cover a, b & c” or “When selling to this type of person, discuss a, b và c.”
It’s nice to have sầu clear expectations & a process khổng lồ follow, rather than feel like every day is a desperate attempt lớn flag down the muse. Plus, it leaves some breathing room in my creative sầu well at the kết thúc of the day for the types of writing and art that bring me true joy.
It’s a lucrative sầu option. The pay in the tech-writing industry is anywhere between $30 to lớn $50 an hour, with salaried writers making typically between $50,000 & $70,000 a year. For contractors, pay may be project based rather than hourly, which for me had ranged between $400 and $2,500 per project.
Do I think it’s fair that technical writers get paid more than some journalists and novelists? No. I don’t think technical or sales writing is intrinsically “worth” more than beautiful prose. But I won’t deny that the income eases a ton of the stressors of my past life (especially as the sole income-earner in my family, with a toddler & a husb& who just went bachồng to lớn school).
Money may not be a motivating factor for all writers, but for those who, like me, have a degree but few professional skills beyond writing, it’s reassuring lớn know my words are worth more than a handful of peanuts.
Basically, technical writing all day every day isn’t the facepalm-migraine it sounds lượt thích, and that’s why I recommkết thúc it to lớn anyone who wants to lớn write for a living. My suggestion is to dip your toes in. Search for jobs that are a little bit out of your comfort zone. Google technical writing jobs or sales writing jobs.
The company I work for is a sales consulting company, but most corporations have their own in-house writers & contractors who provide content for training, presentations and other corporate materials. Also, mine your social truyền thông media. I initially found this job through a status update of a friend of a frikết thúc. And then bởi vì your best. You may find that you’re way more capable than you initially thought you were. You just have sầu khổng lồ trust yourself to be great.