RE: The Freelance Life: Is It Good?

Subject: RE: The Freelance Life: Is It Good?
From: Kevin McLauchlan <kmclauchlan -at- safenet-inc -dot- com>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 26 Mar 2007 15:26:36 -0400


> I have gone as long as 3 or 4 months between jobs. And to make
> matters worse, what some companies think is technical writing, is
> very bizarre. It runs from real tech writing to marketing. So you
> have to be careful you know what is going on when you take a job. The
> worst of clients don't have a clue as to scope or what they want you
> to do. So you have to be able to do a lot of work in a short time.

I've thought about this free-lancing/contracting thing off'n'on for years. I
began to stick my toe in, last year. I've been a captive techwriter for a
couple of decades, and was approached by a startup for a contract job. It
was assumed that I'd be moonlighting until enough progress had happened that
a new arrangement became necessary or desirable.
Both of the principals had some past experience in business, but neither of
them _really_ knew what they were getting into. The enterprise is a
labor-of-love in the best sense, and they will make a go of it, but... they
weren't really looking for a technical writer. They were looking for an
engineering department.

I acted as liaison with an offshore hardware provider, some North American
service suppliers, etc., but mostly I turned into their technical coach,
which I did by asking a LOT of questions. The questions started out
innocently enough as purely technical issues. As this tried to progress, my
questions got more structural, procedural, and ... well... Socratic in
nature.

They finally hired a company that provides them with a team of developers,
managers, etc. (I got the lead from a co-worker at the day-job). The big
benefit is that the services company has been through the startup dance
before, and knows the ropes. They also have the correct mix of technical and
other bodies. I bowed out. I wish 'em well.

If there's a next time, I'll have a very different set of opening questions
to ask when I'm interviewing a potential client.

Meanwhile, my day-job keeps me busy and interested. And that's a good
thing.

Kevin

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