RE: New tech writer employment tips?

Subject: RE: New tech writer employment tips?
From: Regina Lynn Preciado <rlp -at- wwwritingonline -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 2 May 2001 10:13:20 -0700

Writing ability, dedication (meet those deadlines!), and networking have been my strongest assets as I transition from tech writing 25% of the time to tech writing 90% of the time. Being an oldest child helps -- I have a lifetime's experience Explaining Stuff -- and getting along with engineers, not to mention communicating with them, is essential.

As for tools, it's easy to "borrow" software from a friend who has her own so you can learn the programs. If you don't know any other tech writers in person, meet some. The National Writers Union ( has an active Business, Information, Technical, and Engineering (BITE) division, particularly in the bay area. Write to andreas -at- andreas -dot- com for info on the SF/Peninsula BITE chapter AFTER you do some research about NWU on your own. We've also all heard about the STC although I admit I haven't tried it out yet.

When you get a job you'll use your employer's licensed copy of whatever software it uses. If you're freelance, buy your own. It's a deductible business expense and a necessary tool of your trade. RoboHELP costs $500, Framemaker (without SGML) runs about $800; you already have Office, I'm sure. A good project for learning RoboHELP is to write instructions for a game, complete with TOC and Index (thanks Mary for the idea!). Also, most of these programs include tutorials, which not only help you learn the program, they remind you what it's like to be an end user. Ironically, so far all my documentation projects have only required Word...

HTML you can learn in a day for free using Webmonkey, DevHead, or Project Cool. Or buy Laura Lemay's "Web Publishing with HTML in 21 Days" book.

I post my resume and writing samples online not because I think my having a site will impress anyone but because it's the easiest way to refer people to them. I also keep the resume in Word/PDF and ascii (for emailing), and I have a physical portfolio. All of which reminds me that my online resume is outdated and the physical portfolio is bursting at the seams, so I'm outta here to take care of that while I can.

One last note -- all my tech writing gigs have come through networking, both in person and online.

Hope this helps!


Regina Lynn Preciado
Word Wrangler * Digital Nomad
Poke the Bunny!


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RE: New tech writer employment tips?: From: Sheard,Sonya CNAHP

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