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?

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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.