7 Ways To Position Yourself as a Technical Writing Expert Online

Can you make real money as a Technical Writer on the Internet? Let’s say you want to make more money as a Technical Writer (especially online) but don’t know where to start. You have the expertise and experience but don’t know how to use the Internet to find work, attract clients or sell goods. How do you start?

Technical Writing TemplatesClick Here to Download Technical Writing Templates

Online Technical Writing Expert

There are different ways to establish yourself as an ‘expert’. This is one approach.

  1. Focus on One Technical Writing Software – Select one product, say Adobe FrameMaker, and become the definitive authority on this tech comms tool. You have to be the absolute authority in this one area. This is your starting point and all else falls out of this. When other Technical Writers have a problem about this tool, they automatically come to you. For example, when I think of Adobe Robohelp, I think of Colum. Or for screencasts, I read Craig’s HelpScribe blog.
  2. Choose a Niche product – don’t aim to be the best Technical Writer on the Internet. That’s too broad. Instead, drill down into one specific area, for example, web-based help, Visio diagramming or Microsoft Word programming. Then own this area. You can make a comfortable living if you specialize in this area and are the definite authority. Others will ask you to review books, make recommendations, give presentations, and provide consultancy services.
  3. Corner The Market – Make sure you are writing material on your blog (which you update every week) and share knowledge that no one else is doing – really corner the market. Blow away the competition by writing epic posts. This is the key. Zoom in one area, preferably something you love, and share everything you know. You’ll get the traffic and with the traffic comes sales.
  4. Develop Information Products – Look at ways to create education products based on your knowledge of these technical writing software tools. For example, create videos with Camtasia showing others how to create online help or to diagram business processes. Create podcasts that discuss best practices and how Tech Comms managers can run more effective teams. And also look at developing applications that you can sell online, for example, scripts or macros to convert Microsoft Word documents to Adobe FrameMaker (or the other way around).
  5. Create an Email List – your email list is your inner circle of customers. Think of these as pre-qualified leads that are ready to buy (though they mightn’t know it yet!). I make it very easy for Technical Writers to sign up to my newsletter and offer them special offers, reduced rates, and other incentives to stay on the list. And then, when the time is right, I offer them products to buy, such as technical writing templates, online courses, and writing tools.
  6. Sell Digital Products – Learn to sell affiliate products, your own online training, and CD tutorials. You can also start selling digital products online. For example? Let’s say you want to write better business English? Try WhiteSmoke for one week and see if it improves your business writing skills.
  7. Use Social Media – Unlike The Field of Dreams movie, if you built it, they will NOT come. Instead you have to find inexpensive ways to promote your site and start to establish yourself as an authority. Use Twitter, LinkedIn and Quora to raise your profile. Find places where other Technical Writers (especially those who have budgets) are asking questions and be as helpful as possible.

Does it work?

Yes, I just got an email from a US company looking for someone to convert RoboHelp into Adobe FrameMaker. I get this type of stuff all the time. Most I have to turn away as they need it done right now and I’m usually working on other projects. But it’s a good problem to have, right?
Others I do take. Many are smaller 10-20 hour projects that I can do first thing in the morning before my ‘real job’ or at night when the family has settled down.

Conclusion

If you do want to do this, give it 3-6 months before you see real returns. It just takes time to develop a following and get the word out, but then it’s a snowball effect. Most of the ‘big boys’ just try harder, that’s all. There’s no magic formula. Just keep trucking ?

PS: I use Aweber for my email marketing activities. It’s not cheap but you get what you pay for – it’s definitely worth the money.

Download these templates to start

Acceptance Test Plan

Contingency Plan

Software Development Templates

Acquisition Plan

Conversion Plan

Software Requirements Specification

Action Plan

Cost Benefit Analysis

Software Testing

API Documentation

Database Design

Standard Operating Procedures (SOP)

Audience Analysis

Datasheet

Statement of Work

Availability Plan

Deployment Plan

System Administration Guide

Bill of Materials

Design Document

System Boundary

Business Case

Disaster Recovery Plan

System Design Document

Business Continuity

Disposition Plan

System Specifications

Business Plan

Documentation Plan

Technical Writing Templates

Business Process

Employee Handbook

Test Plan

Business Requirements

Error Message Guide

Training Plan

Business Rules

Expression of Interest

Transition Plan

Capacity Plan

Fact Sheet

Troubleshooting Guide

Case Study

Feasibility Study

Use Case

Change Management Plan

Functional Requirements

User Guide

Communication Plan

Grant Proposal

Verification and Validation Plan

Concept of Operations

Implementation Plan

White Papers

Concept Proposal

Installation Plan

Work Instructions

Configuration Management Plan

Interface Control Document

Software Development Templates

Acceptance Test Plan

Maintenance Plan

Software Requirements Specification

Acquisition Plan

Market Research

Software Testing

Action Plan

Marketing Plan

Standard Operating Procedures (SOP)

API Documentation

Needs Statement

Statement of Work

Audience Analysis

Operations Guide

System Administration Guide

Availability Plan

Policy Manual

System Boundary

Bill of Materials

Project Plan

System Design Document

Business Case

Proposal Manager Templates

System Specifications

Business Continuity

Proposal Template

Technical Writing Templates

Business Plan

Quality Assurance Plan

Test Plan

Business Process

Release Notes

Training Plan

Business Requirements

Request for Proposal

Transition Plan

Business Rules

Risk Management Plan

Troubleshooting Guide

Capacity Plan

Scope of Work

Use Case

Case Study

Security Plan

User Guide

Change Management Plan

Service Level Agreement (SLA)

Verification and Validation Plan

Communication Plan

Setup Guide

White Papers

Concept of Operations

Social Media Policy

Work Instructions

Concept Proposal

Contingency Plan

 

Configuration Management Plan

Conversion Plan