Thousands or even millions of people intend to become freelancers. Freelance has multiple directions and can make you rich. One of the possible directions is to become a technical writer. Such a writer helps to understand complex concepts using simpler languages and explanations. Many companies along with students hire advanced writers to write high-quality papers and texts for their clients, partners, suppliers, etc. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, technical writers earn about $75,500 annually. It means the salary ranges from $20 to $55 per hour. Mind that this sum may be bigger. Accordingly, it’s reasonable to be a technical writer. Our guide will explain how to reach that goal even without having any experience.
Does It Suit You?
Before we go to the tips and recommendations, answer one vital question. Does technical writing suit your talents and interests? The question is simple, but the answer may be complex. Firstly, define the meaning of technical writing. It’s a simplification of complex terms for people who are not familiar with a concrete field.
Do you remember all the text you’ve read about computer science, medicine, or engineering? You aren’t an expert in them but have to clarify certain issues due to some reasons. You won’t understand them if they are offered professionally that uses jargon, terms, and another lexicon from the field. Technical writers customize such texts and write in the words that are known to most people. The common technical texts are:
- White papers,
- Case studies,
- Press releases, etc.
If you feel you can master at least one popular field and adapt to the comprehension of ordinary readers, you may freely choose this art of writing.
When embarking on a job as a technical writer, you need equipment that can keep up with the rigor of the task. If a brand-new, high-spec laptop is out of the question for your budget, you can cast your eyes toward refurbished equipment. There are numerous high-spec refurbished laptops available from trustworthy shops online. These are as good as brand-new.
If you are confused between secondhand and refurbished, let us help clear that out. A secondhand laptop is something that somebody has already used beforehand. Meanwhile, a refurbished computer has had issues, which is why customers returned them. The shop or the manufacturer fixes the problems and sells them with the “refurbished” label. You do not have to worry about these dying on you; they are tested to keep up with the standards.
If you intend to be a good technical writer, you don’t necessarily need a certificate. Of course, a certificate is always useful for any job. Nevertheless, this profession can be mastered by anyone who is smart and has a writer’s talent. Here are steps you should take to develop your skills and get some experience:
- Pass a special course. The Internet is full of courses for technical writers. Pass one or several courses for beginners. Thus, you’ll have a general understanding of the demands and will know what skills are required.
- Join a community. You can also join a community dedicated to technical writing. Various communities have experienced users. They may give you a good piece of advice on how to gain experience, find a job, develop any skills, and earn good money.
- Volunteer. There’s nothing bad about trying a volunteering activity. Even if you won’t get money, you’ll surely get the necessary experience. It will help become a good technical writer faster. Practice is the best way to become an expert in any field.
- Have a mentor. As you’re an inexperienced newbie, it’s wise to have a private mentor. He/she should be a talented, professional, and experienced technical writer. Using his/her knowledge and tips, you’ll develop the necessary skills much faster and will avoid common errors.
What Skills to Develop?
While you increase your experience, you’ll surely face the issue of skills. Technical writing requires definite skills to be upgraded that will help to be a high-quality expert. These are as follows:
- Audience analysis;
- Mind mapping and planning;
- Teamwork and other skills.
Each plays a vital role in becoming a good technical writer. If you develop them all, you’ll be an expert in high demand. Accordingly, you’ll earn a lot.
Master Various Document Types
Students face different types of academic papers, which have different goals. The same goes for technical writers. Your clients may order any of them and so it’s crucial to know what must be done and why. Let’s check a list of the most popular technical documents with short descriptions of every type.
|Technical Reports||These offer data, analysis, and/or some instructions.||They clarify to readers how the working process runs and what it takes to be completed.|
|Guides and Manuals||They give data and instructions about the main issue.||The main goal is to help readers understand how to use a definite product.|
|Proposals||Proposals ensure detailed feedback about new projects or implementations.||The goal is to help specialists in the industry to comprehend and assess a proposal.|
|Datasheets||They provide clear feedback on all technical features and specifications.||They provide partners with relevant data that can be included in their system.|
|SOP (Standard Operating Procedure)||It gives plain clarifications to employees.||As it describes the process gradually, it increases efficiency and productivity.|
|White Papers, Case Studies, and similar types.||They are written for marketing purposes.||These documents enhance ROI (return on investment) and serve for similar goals.|
Learn the Right Tools
You’ll have to deal with many technical aspects and appropriate tools are the “must”! they will make the process of writing faster, easier, and more productive. It’s recommended learning how to use:
- Adobe FrameMaker;
- Text Editor for HTML;
- Adobe RoboHelp
- Windows Snipping Tool;
- Microsoft Visio, etc.
Memorize the smart tips we have mentioned in our article. They are universal and productive. If you follow them, you’ll become a great technical writer without much experience. Everything is easier if you use smart recommendations.