How to Get Started as a Freelance Technical Writer

A freelance technical writer creates product manuals in a simple way to make it comprehensible for a person with a non-technical background. Freelance technical writers are hired by scientists, IT companies, government firms, aircraft companies, firms dealing with mobile phones, music players, or video games. To become a freelance technical writer, you either have to have an aptitude for technical jargon or be an excellent writer with great writing capabilities. Kick start your career as a freelance technical writer by reading the following guidelines.

Acquire the Necessary Skills

There is no need to pursue formal education in any specific field to become a freelance technical writer. However, equipping yourself with some knowledge would help you shine in this career. Here are a few tips on how to plan for your career as a freelance technical writer:

  • Graduate high school with good scores in English and mathematics.
  • Pursue an undergraduate degree in Engineering, if possible, as it will help you understand the working process of tech products.
  • If not engineering, pursue a degree in mathematics or science. This will help you to stay in touch with the scientific side rather than just focusing your attention on the creative side. 
  • Try to read and stay updated about various new gadgets and products that have an edge over others due to its technology.
  • Short-term courses for technical writing are available as a full time writer, as well as part time.
  • Pursue prospective clients through advertisements, websites and or any other means.

Know About the Working Conditions

As a freelance technical writer, you will be doing most of your work from a home office. In rare occasions, it might be necessary to travel to the client’s location. There are no fixed working hours. You might have to either set your own hours and communicate the same to your client or work according to their schedule. Your typical tasks as a freelance technical writer would be:

  • Identifying possible clients and negotiating the deal.
  • Understanding clearly the concepts behind the working of the product.
  • Making a clear outline of how the information is going to be presented, be it a user’s manual, safety precautions or design specifications.
  • Writing in simple yet technically sound terms about instructions, features, designs and other details of the product.
  • Getting the content approved by the client.
  • Managing the administrative aspect of your job.

Keep the Growth Opportunities in Mind

Working as a freelance technical writer for considerable number of years can prepare you to enter the field on a full-time basis. You will also have an opportunity to become a supervisor for a group of technical writers. Some technical writers after gaining enough knowledge begin to deliver courses and training. Some freelancers move forward in the career as an instructional designer.

Salary of a freelance technical writer ranges between $25 to $75 per hour depending on the nature of the assignment and your proficiency. With 2 to 3 years of experience, there is a great chance for the pay rates to go up.