Freelance writing, or working as a self-employed writer, is an increasingly popular career path for many people.
Freelancing allows individuals to have more control over their earnings and their work schedules, which can be more enticing to people than working in a traditional office job.
Freelance technical writing is a specific kind of writing that can be difficult to get right, but is highly valued by many companies and businesses.
If you have a talent for technical writing, then freelance technical writing might be the right avenue for you.
However, there are a few things you need to know before you begin and some tips that can help you get started on the right foot.
In this article, we’ll talk about what technical writing is, what technical writers do, and how you can begin your career as a freelance technical writer.
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What is Technical Writing?
Most of the time, when someone thinks about freelance writing, they think of someone who writes company blogs or puts together social media posts.
However, there are many other types of freelancing writing that you can do. Becoming a technical freelance writer is one example of another freelancing writing path.
Technical writing involves taking a complex subject and breaking it down into a user-friendly content piece that can be read by anyone.
Technical writers need to be able to fully understand specialized topics and then essentially translate those topics into language that is more approachable to those who are coming upon the piece.
There are many companies that utilize technical writers. The medical, manufacturing, and technology industries are examples of some of the types of companies that need technical writers.
By making complex content straightforward, the company can appeal to its customers or shareholders much more easily.
Benefits of Freelance Technical Writing
Freelancers enjoy a lot of benefits that you can’t get in a traditional office job, and freelance technical writing is no different.
There is always risk involved when you work for yourself, but there are also a lot of rewards you can receive, so long as you know what you are doing.
Pick the hours that work best for you and take the time you need for non-work obligations like friends, family, and hobbies.
Work From Anywhere
Freelancing allows you to work anywhere in the world so long as you have the internet.
Unlimited Earnings Potential
In a traditional office job, your salary is based on what your employer wants to pay. As a freelance technical writer, you can earn however much you want without a limit.
Variety of Work
Freelancers work with many different clients, meaning that there is a wide variety of tasks and projects that can be done.
Be Your Own Boss
As a freelance technical writer, you have total control over your management style, the types of projects you take on, and how you do your work and run your business.
What Does a Technical Writer Do?
As mentioned earlier, there are many different industries that need the expertise and technical skills that a freelance technical writer can provide.
And within those industries, there is a variety of different types of projects that you can do.
You can pick one of these areas to specialize in or learn how to do all of them.
The main goal, however, is to make the technical, complicated information you get something that is approachable and able to be understood by all.
Just like regular freelance writers tend to spend a lot of their time writing blogs, technical freelance writers can also spend their time creating blogs and articles.
The difference is in the type of content and topics that are covered in the blog itself. You might end up writing technical articles for publications and magazines instead of a client website.
Technical Guides or User Manuals
Another type of task that technical writers can do is creating how-to manuals and guides.
These guides require the skills of a writer who can take complicated engineering or software information and turn it into simple steps that a customer can use.
The types of guides you might create include:
- Installation instructions
- Maintenance guides
- Best practices booklets
- Troubleshooting manuals
- Technical documentation
Policy and Procedure Pages
Businesses need to have their policies and procedures listed out clearly, often as required by law. They also might want these things documented for internal use as well.
A technical writer can put together these policy and procedure pages or guides.
The guides can then be used for onboarding, benefits packages, conduct guidelines, or meeting federal regulations.
White Papers and Reports
Another typical job for a freelance technical writer is to create white papers or corporate reports.
These detailed, technical papers are used to explain things like industry research, company reports and findings, or original research that is sponsored by the company.
They are more technical than a regular article, but still need to be approachable to readers.
What Kind of Skills Does a Technical Writer Need?
A freelance technical writer needs to have a robust skill set in order to successfully achieve their goals and run a great business.
While there isn’t any formal training or degrees required to be a technical writer, you will want to make sure you have other skills like:
- Technical knowledge and expertise
- Excellent writing and grammar skills
- Editing and proofreading skills
- Project management skills
- Time management skills
- Marketing skills
- Sales skills
8 Tips to Become a Freelance Technical Writer
Now that you know more about what a technical writer is, let’s look at some of the best tips you can use while working on your technical freelancing work.
1. Develop a Technical Writing Portfolio
Because you will likely be working for big organizations and technical companies, you need to be able to show them what your skills are.
A technical writing portfolio allows you to share your best work with potential clients and show them exactly what you can accomplish and why you are valuable to them.
2. Find a Niche
You’ll want to have a niche and area of expertise as you begin a freelance technical writing career.
You can narrow it down into a specific industry or vertical or you can specialize in a specific type of technical writing.
Either way, finding a niche helps you become more valuable to clients and stand out from the competition.
3. Use Technical Writing Templates
Technical writing can be incredibly difficult, especially if you are working with highly complicated or confusing information.
Using a basic template for different types of writing projects like a whitepaper or a how-to guide can help you cut down on some of the outlining work and instead focus your time and energy on the writing.
4. Apply SEO Techniques to Your Writing
Just because technical writing is more complicated than traditional content writing doesn’t mean you should forego best practices like using SEO techniques.
You still want your writing to be found by readers and bring in organic traffic for your clients.
5. Improve Your Research Skills
A big part of great technical writing is research skills. You might be writing about a complicated subject that doesn’t have much information available.
You’ll need to be able to find robust and informative sources to back up your writing.
6. Practice Your Sales Pitch
Oftentimes, freelancers struggle with selling their services to clients.
Most freelance writers aren’t salespeople by nature, and it takes time to build up those important sales and pitch skills.
Practicing your sales pitches and working on your speaking skills can go a long way in making it easier to appeal to customers.
7. Set Accurate Rates
Another area that many freelancers struggle with is setting the proper rates.
Many times, writers undervalue their services. Make sure you are pricing your services for what they are worth.
Remember, as a freelance technical writer, you have a very defined and specialized skill set that is worth more than you might think.
8. Continually Improve Your Craft
There is always time to work on improving your craft and becoming a better technical writer.
By doing things like attending classes, keeping up with research, and expanding your skill sets, you can become an even better freelance technical writer and find yourself being sought out by more and more clients.
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Technical writing is a much more complicated and complex type of writing than other types of freelancing. However, when it is done right, it can be incredibly beneficial to individuals who want to begin careers as freelance technical writers.
If you have the ability to translate complicated ideas into approachable content, then it might be the right path for you.
No matter what type of freelance writing you do, one of the hardest parts is finding new clients and getting work as you start off.
Thankfully, there are many websites that can help you.
Check out our blog on the best freelance websites in order to learn more about what options are out there and get started on your technical freelance writer career today!