Technical writing might not be the most glamorous field, but it can be an overlooked goldmine of work for aspiring freelance writers. Many writers dismiss technical writing gigs out of intimidation or a lack of self-confidence. Even writers with a limited tech background can create useful technical manuals for their clients, as long as they are willing to do the research, develop an eye for detail, and write in a clear straightforward style.
Technical Writing Skills
Freelance writers might be wondering: “What do I need to know before I apply for a technical writing job?” Most likely you will already possess skills necessary for technical writing. Some of these might include:
Using words to teach or instruct The ability to hold the reader’s attention-even within a dull subject matter Getting in the mind of your audience Thorough research skills Knowing the right questions to ask
Don’t worry if you aren’t computer-savvy. Clients with complicated projects will typically hire a Subject Matter Expert (SME) to assist the writer. Beginning technical writers often create the best manuals. They know what sections will need extra attention and detail for their audience-unlike experts who might underestimate what processes will be challenging to the novice.
Different Kinds of Technical Writing Jobs
A common misconception among freelance writers is that all technical writing deals with computers. Not true! Any machine or program that requires written instructions will need a technical writer. Some non-computer niches might be:
Kitchen appliances Cell phones and accessories Music players New employee training books Dissembled furniture Power tools
if you are uncomfortable working in the computer industry, start thinking outside the box. Writers will have no problem finding a technical writing job that suits their abilities and preferences.
Applying For Technical Writing Jobs
When applying for a gig as a technical writer, samples will usually be requested. This can scare away beginners, but it doesn’t need to. Freelance writers looking for their first technical writing project have two options. They can send in samples of writing they’ve already published elsewhere-even if it is not technical writing. Any writing sample can show an applicant’s style and ability. Writers can also create a tailored sample from scratch. Write an instruction manual for an appliance you already have and use frequently. You can look at its existing manual for inspiration and assurance that you have covered all necessary sections. Of course, all sample work must be entirely original, so don’t copy anything word for word.
As with jobs in all fields, a strong dose of confidence will increase the chances of winning the gig. Many beginners make the mistake of apologizing for their lack of experience or knowledge. Avoid this pitfall. Play up the experience you do have, and make up for any lack in your work history with plenty of enthusiasm and professionalism. If you feel good about your work ability, prospective clients will too.