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By Randy Wilson
Technical writing services are employed to explain the details of a topic in a way that is easily understood by the readers. In todays information age, technical writing jobs are increasingly common. One would think that, eventually, everything useful will have been written! This is not the case, however, and your home-based technical writing company probably has a better chance for success today than at any time in the past.
Business plans, technical report writing, grant writing, instruction manuals, and business correspondence are just a few of the more common types of technical writing jobs available. By becoming skilled with any of these (and other) topics, you can make extremely good money with your own technical writing company.
Start Up Costs and Financing Sources:
Basic operating costs are very modest, although research for some projects may be expensive.
You could spend weeks or months on a project before being paid, so keep adequate savings for living expenses during these times.
Pricing Guidelines for Service:
Set a reasonable hourly rate for yourself, such as $15-20 per hour to start. As you gain more experience and speed, this rate will increase. Base the estimates for your clients on this rate. Be very careful in estimating the time and resources a project will require. Your clients will expect to pay your quoted price, no matter how much time you actually spend on the project.
Prices are always a delicate issue. You want to ensure the maximum profit for yourself, but pricing your services too high could prevent a profitable, long-term relationship with a customer.
Advertising and Marketing:
Respond to help wanted advertisements seeking technical writers.
Become affiliated with industry associations which may list you in their technical writing company directories.
For a fee, online venues will connect you with clients offering a variety of technical writing jobs.
You should have a decent computer with quality word processing software installed. You don’t need your own private library, but access to a good source of reference material will be very useful. Technical writing is usually done from your home office, but it is sometimes necessary to travel to a work site for certain resources, so keep reliable transportation available.
$10,000 to $100,000+
At first, your income will be limited by the number of clients you can find. As you build your exposure and reputation, you might find yourself with more potential clients than you can handle. At this point you can set your rates to focus on more profitable projects, greatly increasing your income potential.
There are many markets that fall under the technical writing umbrella. Some of the more common situations you will encounter are:
Companies needing accurate and understandable training manuals for their employees.
Manufacturers needing useful instruction manuals for their products.
Entrepreneurs needing clear and focused business plans that appeal to investors.
Office workers needing letter templates for their day-to-day correspondence.
Researchers needing influential grant proposals to secure funding for their research.
Tips for Success:
Read, read, read! Reading publications similar to the type of technical writing you will be doing will help you to think with the correct mindset and provide the type of content your intended readers will be expecting. It is also easier to be critical of other people’s texts, so you will be able to identify common mistakes and protect yourself from the same pitfalls.
Training, Skills or Experience Needed:
Technical writing requires very precise knowledge of linguistics and grammatical rules. Professional technical writers usually have a four-year degree in English or some sort of post-secondary training related to technical writing.
Unless you are already an expert in a technical field and limit the scope of your writing to that, you will probably be required to quickly learn the details of certain processes – even entire industries.
Research and evaluation skills are important. You must know where to look for all kinds of information and how to interpret the information once you have it.
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