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First, a clarification. My article about Elance.com stirred up quite a few of you. Some of you wrote to me saying that it’s practically impossible to make $40 or more per hour through Elance.com.
The goal of my article was not to imply that you could make $40 per hour through Elance. I simply cited research data about the growing demand for people with writing skills. According to the research, businesses are looking to contractors and freelancers to stay competitive in the current marketplace.
I also listed one option to get started as a freelance technical writer which involved getting started with some online freelance sites. My article did not state that you can make $40 or $50 per hour through these freelance sites.
This does raise a very important question. Can your really make $40 or more per hour as a technical writer? I am tempted to answer this question now and dedicate today’s article to this topic. But I promised you last week that I would show you how to position yourself differently from your competition. So, in a future article we’ll look at the hourly rates for technical writers and how much you can really make in this field.
Elance.com and other freelance writing websites are virtual marketplaces. These marketplaces are crowded with buyers and sellers of services. The service business is a two headed monster. Because of its ease of entry, you can become a service provider relatively easily. That’s the positive aspect. But this ease of entry also makes it possible for a large number of providers to sell their services. As a result, competition is fierce.
To succeed, you have to set yourself apart from your fellow technical writers. You must give your prospective client or employer a unique reason to hire you. In the world of marketing, this unique reason is called the Unique Selling Proposition (USP).
Your USP can be anything you identify to be unique about you or the service you provide.
Spend some time thinking about your USP before you dive into the world of freelancing. Once you have identified your USP make sure to include it in all your marketing documents such as your cover letter, resume, summary of services statement, email signature and other client communications.
Identifying your USP
It’s important that your USP is beneficial to your prospective clients. Typing 80 words per minute is a great skill, but it’s not a smart idea to make that your USP. When your client reads your USP she should think, “Wow! This is impressive. This is definitely something my project will benefit from.”
How do you come up with your USP? Make a list of your skills, qualifications and experiences. Select two or three from this list and think about how you can use them to benefit a prospective client or employer. For example, you could be a computer programmer doing technical writing in your spare time. Your USP could be that you specialize in creating online help guides and your programming experience gives you an edge in this arena.
If you can’t dig up something from your past you can still create a USP that distinguishes you from your peers. For example, you could be a technical writer with a focus on expanding sales and creating corporate growth. Or you could be someone who offers web design services with your technical writing. Or you could be a technical writer with a focus on writing newsletter content.
When you are just starting out, don’t create a USP which limits the range of projects you can work on. If your USP is that you’re a technical writer with a concentration on creating software user guides, the likelihood of you getting other projects involving business writing or writing manuals is slim. You’ll be better off with a USP that gives you a broader reach.
Examples of USPs
Here are some examples of USPs you can use or get some ideas from:
– Technical writer with a focus to:
— Reduce costs
— Increase customer satisfaction
— Expand sales
– Technical writer who offers graphic design services
– Technical writer who offers web design services
– Technical writer who can help you start a newsletter and create newsletter content
– Technical writer who can compile eBooks
– Technical writer who can create and manage blogs
Each of the above statements offers the client something more than technical writing. A good USP does just that – it goes beyond client expectations.
Put yourself in your client’s shoes for a minute. She is expecting to hire a technical writer for a project. She’ll get a number of proposals. Nearly all of them will talk about price, project timelines and milestones. But your proposal will go beyond the ordinary. It will tell her that you’re interested in a long term business relationship. One that is mutually rewarding.
To succeed as a technical writer you must put the client’s interest before yours. You must go beyond the project’s parameters and provide value to your client. That is the essential component of a rewarding career.
If you can write a simple sentence and organize your thoughts then technical writing may be a rewarding field. Become a tech writer and quickly start an extra income stream.
To learn more go to http://www.techwritingcourse.com/bright_future