Why Technical Writing could be the best freelance writing job in this pandemic
As hiring is at an all time low and with few jobs filling up Technical Writing jobs and work are a plenty.
Indeed.com, Glassdoor.com and Payscale.com, all confirm the same thing, Technical Writing jobs are going begging. Hiring at IT firms is at an all time low due to the Pandemic. So who is to going to complete or clear the Technical Writing pile-up and backlog? Isn’t this a wonderful opportunity for freelance Technical Writers?
Technical Writing is ranked 43'rd on Careercast.com’s list of the best jobs in America for 2019 and going by this rating Technical Writing is the best writing job there is (link to the detailed report and more about Technical Writing at the bottom of this article). This list not only includes jobs from the IT sector but Healthcare, Engineering, Law, Education, Management, Agriculture and Administration (all except Political positions).
So what is Technical Writing? Is Technical Writing something completely new for the conventional writer? Pick up your DVD player’s user guide or your Microwave oven’s User’s Manual or check out the text in the help window of any software application on your computer. These were compiled and written by Technical Writers. You will find several similarities in the tone, tense and voice of the instructions in these User Manuals and Guides. There is also an order to these instructions and a manner in which they are presented. These rules of grammar aren’t many or new but in Technical Writing they need to be implicitly followed. Plus Technical Writers also learn to capture and acquire various types of images either from the desktop or of products they need to write about. On the computer there are various types of screen grabs that they perform to capture free areas (any area on the screen), buttons, menus and even scrolling web page screenshots. Free software for capturing such screenshots are available too and an example of one such program is Greenshot.
So how does one become a Technical Writer? One doesn’t have to go back to college for this as several online courses can teach you to become a Technical Writer. You also don’t have to spend an exorbitant amount of your money or waste your time. Make sure that whatever course you enroll (online or offline) teaches you a HAT, popularly known as Help Authoring Tool in the Technical Writing world. A course that teaches you Technical Writing using just Microsoft Word will not take you anywhere. This is because the company that will be hiring you or asking for your services will either be using a HAT or will ask of you an output file that in most cases will only be deliverable by a HAT. Examples of HATs are Adobe’s RoboHelp, MadCap’s Flare and Help+Manual from EC Software. One of these, HelpNDoc is free for personal use too which you may download and use for your learning. HATs also make your Technical Writing work easier. Using a HAT you work on just one source of documentation and the HAT will deliver outputs in a variety of formats including PDF, Online help, eBook, formats for the Kindle, iPad and several other formats the HAT can support.
And as for freelancing I would recommend two websites, upwork.com and freelancer.com. As a tip I would recommend going in for paid subscriptions. Also give time for a client to respond. From one story on LinkedIn I came to know that one client even took two months to get back to a service provider. So the trick is to bid actively and wait.