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It was a cold and overcast December afternoon. Traffic was thinning out because it was Christmas Eve. Everyone was excited for the joys and surprises that Christmas would bring. Except me.
I was stuck in a cubicle finishing up an operations manual. It was hard to concentrate on the task at hand. I wanted to bolt out of the office and start the celebrations. But I had to finish this manual. Two cubes down, the project engineer – SJ, was patiently waiting for me to hand it to him.
Since this was my first technical writing job, it took me a bit longer to complete the job. Finally, I walked over to SJ and handed him two copies of the three hundred page manual.
“Good job Bryan ,” he said.
“Thanks. Merry Christmas to you,” I replied half out the door.
“Hold on,” he added quickly.
My heart sank. “Please…..! Not another revision or change,” I thought.
Slowly, I made my way back to his office. “You know what you have done?” he asked seriously. I stared back at him, expecting him to point out several mistakes in the copy.
He looked at the manuals on his desk, opened one of them and started going through it. What SJ said next was very profound…
“Two minutes ago, this manual did not exist. Now it does. I’m going to take this half way across the world. It will be used by engineers and geologists to perform very important operations. Operations that will directly impact our company.
“You’ve created something with your skills and hard work. You should be proud of yourself. Good luck and Merry Christmas,” he said with a smile.
On my drive home that day, I thought about what he said. Those kind words were meant to encourage me. Being an entry level junior tech writer, I was not treated at the same level as an engineer or a programmer. It’s a reality you may have already faced or will experience in your technical writing career. Technical writers will always be seen as intellectually inferior to engineers, programmers, doctors, and lawyers.
Unknowingly, SJ had made me realize a very important aspect of technical writing. I call it the tangibility factor .
As a technical writer, you’re constantly creating documents. What you may not realize is that these documents didn’t exist before you created them. Using your technical writing skills, you’ve created something that has value. Something that can be touched and felt. Something that is tangible.
Your creation will be used by businesses to create corporate growth, reduce costs, create customer satisfaction, or streamline operations. In our ambition to succeed and make more money, we tend to overlook and even forget the tangibility factor. But if you look back and think about all the documents you created and how they helped their audiences, it should give you immense pride and satisfaction.
Even if you created a simple 10-page manual on how to operate a simple toaster, that document is probably being used by someone. The product can’t be shipped without that document. It doesn’t matter if what you created was small or big, what’s important is that you created it using your skills.
People think that writers starve. Writing, as a profession, is not considered to be in the same level as practicing medicine or law. But take a minute and look around you. All the products and services you use have contributions by writers.
To illustrate this point, let’s look at the process of buying a car. Say you’re in the market looking for a new car. You’d start off by doing some research. You might go online and read up on the car’s specifications and features which are written by a technical writer. You might order an information brochure written by a business writer or a copywriter. Or you may see an eye catching commercial on TV. The commercial was written by a script writer.
When you buy the vehicle, you’ll sign contracts and documents written by legal writers. Finally, you’ll get the owner’s manual, which was created by a technical writer.
The process I have described is the sales process. Imagine the role writers play in the manufacturing process and customer support. Every document, whether hard copy or electronic, is written by a writer.
As you can see, writers play a very important role in commerce and industry. But our contributions will always be overlooked by society in general.
My point in writing this article is not to compare technical writing to other occupations. Neither is it to crave recognition for our profession. Rather, I hope to instill a sense of pride in technical writers. Because what we do does play a very important role in the lives of our target audience and customers.
Keep this thought in mind the next time you put pen to paper or start typing on your keyboard. You are about to bring something new into this world. A document that never existed. A document that might be referenced for years to come.
If you can write a simple sentence and organize your thoughts then technical writing may be a rewarding field. You can easily make it a second income stream in your spare time.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the average salary for technical writers is $60,380. Freelance technical writers can make from $30 to $70 per hour.
The field of technical writing is like a golden city. It’s filled with wealth, rewards and opportunities. After learning technical writing you can branch out into business writing, marketing writing and communications writing. All of these can become additional income streams.
But to succeed you must learn how to market yourself to clients. You have to prove to them that you are an invaluable asset. That’s where ProTech – Your Fast Track to Becoming a Successful Technical Writer can help. It’s a technical writing course that does two equally important things:
1. It teaches you the skills to become a technical writer in the shortest time frame. You’ll learn to create manuals, procedures, tutorials, processes, proposals, spec sheets and other documents that businesses need.
2. It shows you how to market yourself to clients so you can start your income stream as soon as possible.
In fact, you’ll get a complete marketing toolkit which has templates and technical writing job sites to get started immediately! You can download two sample lessons by clicking the link below. This could be your chance to create a prosperous future.
Click the link below to download your two sample lessons.