Re: Where is the ceiling in TW?

Subject: Re: Where is the ceiling in TW?
From: Bruce Byfield <bbyfield -at- progeny -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 18 Jan 2001 10:50:51 -0800

"Habegger, Nolan" wrote:

> 1. If you don't want to relocate, but you also don't want to throw away all
> of your hard-earned experience, what would you (personally) do to ensure
> your income increases? How would you continue to "be a writer" and make more
> money than you're making now? What type of work would you look for? In what
> industry?
>
> 2. What is your personal perception of the financial "ceiling" in Technical
> Writing as a profession? Does one exist? If so, where is it? If not, where
> is the unlimited potential for millions in this business?
>
> 3. If you are a "non-techie" writer who wants to keep writing instead
> becoming a programmer, where do you focus your job search? What fields and
> what job titles?

I can think of two basic choices: contracting, and branching out
into related areas.

In most places, contracting pays higher than full-time employment.
The traditional rationale is that the higher rate helps contractors
to survive periods of unemployment, but, in this job market, you
should be able to work steadily while still getting the higher rate.
You could also start your own agency. Even if you charge only
$10/hour above each sub-contractors' rate, if you get only a three
or four sub-contractors while working yourself, you'll be very
comfortable (Note: I'm assuming that you don't bother with an office
and its added expense when I suggest a $10/hour surcharge). Even if
you're doing routine work, somehow routine work done when you're the
boss isn't as tedious.

Alternatively, try branching out into a job with mixed
responsibilities. That might not be possible at a large company, or
at one that's not growing, but it's worth a try. Marketing, media
relations, investor relations, and product management are all areas
that a tech writer can move comfortably into. The fact that writers
know the products, at least from a non-technical perspective, can
only help them in these areas. You might even find that you enjoy
these areas enough to move into them full-time. In some of these
areas, you may very well be involved in corporate planning, which
could open up other career advancements in the future.

Having succeeded on both routes, I can recommend them both. Which
one is most suitable for your hypothetical situation depends on you.
The contract route is ideal if you value independence and challenge,
while the corporate route is ideal if you prefer more safety and
less worry. But either can take your salary well into six figures,
which should be a high enough ceiling even for a giant.

--
Bruce Byfield, Progeny Linux Systems
Contributing Editor, Maximum Linux
604.421.7177 bbyfield -at- progeny -dot- com

"Dauntless the slug-horn to my lips I set
And blew. 'Childe Roland to the Dark Tower came.'"
-Robert Browning

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