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Does anyone do technical writing?

(7 Posts)
MoggieMaeEverso Fri 11-Nov-16 06:01:14

I'm thinking of taking a course in technical writing, as I'm keen to start freelancing again but don't want to go back to copywriting or journalism - just need a change. Haven't written professionally for a few years due to caring for SN child.

Does anyone do technical writing and do you like it? I have a (naive?) idea that there would be less competition and decent pay. And my "fun" writing is quite different so hopefully it would be a good balance.

MoggieMaeEverso Fri 11-Nov-16 06:02:15

I mean things like writing user manuals, software guides, etc.

engineersthumb Fri 11-Nov-16 06:32:22

I've worked with tech authors over the years both in house and contract. Typically they use packages like framemaker to set the manuals. User guides tend to rely on the author becoming familiar with the product. Maintenance guides are sometimes more dependant upon technical knowledge, though in the past I've provided content to a tech author on specific areas and they have then worked the meaning into the publication so a tech background isn't always essential. In my experience it does not lend itself well to remote or part time working as ideally you want the product in front of you and the design team at hand to answer questions and informally peer review as the publication is being prepared, in the few cases where we contracted out off site large scale rewrites were required. I'd suggest trying to become an in-house author as product familiarity is the biggest hurdle and this is more easily addressed when dealing with a small product portfolio. I don't know what the competition is like but we never seemed to have much problem finding temps/contractors so I assume it's a pretty big pool. That said once you've got experienced with a particular customers product they'll want to use you in preference to someone without that experience. Hope that helps.

MoggieMaeEverso Fri 11-Nov-16 09:52:40

That helps a lot. Thanks thumb smile

nancyeyre Thu 05-Jan-17 04:41:20

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

HumpMeBogart Fri 06-Jan-17 23:16:34

I've just seen this thread - apologies if I'm too late but I've got 20 years' experience as a tech author. What engineers-thumb said about the nature of the work is correct.

I don't have any formal qualifications (most of the courses that exist now didn't exist when I started out). The most important qualities are communication skills (written AND verbal - you need to be able to ask the right questions and follow up if you're not getting enough information) and attention to detail. Specific technical knowledge is less important than an interest in technology and willingness to learn.

I went from perm to contract in 2010 (so I had more time for creative writing smile) and I've always found it easy to get more work at the end of each contract. I get most roles through agencies / LinkedIn / recommendations. Feel free to PM me if you have specific questions!

Rubydraper Sat 28-Jan-17 10:21:12

Technical writing is good and it is required for having a good career. You have well come up with answers for this technical writing.

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