RE: More about the changes coming to tech writing

Subject: RE: More about the changes coming to tech writing
From: "Sharon Burton" <sharon -at- anthrobytes -dot- com>
To: "'McLauchlan, Kevin'" <Kevin -dot- McLauchlan -at- safenet-inc -dot- com>, 'Milan DavidoviÄ' <milan -dot- lists -at- gmail -dot- com>, "'Dan Goldstein'" <DGoldstein -at- cytomedix -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 6 May 2014 12:37:59 -0700

In my experience, most people looking to make the change into tech comm are in their late 30s or older. Most don't have small children. They have been sort of doing tech comm for a while and really like it and are burning out on what they've been doing for the last 15 years. They want to do tech comm full time and get more training in how to do it "right".

In my experience, the average age of certainly STC conferences is 50s or older. We go to these conferences to see friends and socialize. Oh, and maybe learn something, too.

However, the conferences I know about who are looking at getting younger-in-the-field people to attend are aware the average age of attendance is rising and soon people will age out of the profession.

If conference budget cuts are the issue, I would think we'd see that across all ages. The conferences I'm familiar with who know they have this issue are not seeing that.

I think the younger in field prefer webinars and more technically advanced conferences. I have attended a few in the last year that skewed younger and it was delightful to see and be a part of.

But my point about the problem with the assertion that tech comm is dying because the participants in our field are older stands. This is a second career for most people, thus we would always skew older than something you train for 4 years in college. Unlike CPAs or marketing, for example.


sharon

Sharon Burton
951-369-8590
www.sharonburton.com
Twitter: sharonburton
Author of 8 Steps to Amazing Webinars,
available on Amazon and bn.com


-----Original Message-----
From: McLauchlan, Kevin [mailto:Kevin -dot- McLauchlan -at- safenet-inc -dot- com]
Sent: Tuesday, May 06, 2014 12:02 PM
To: sharon -at- anthrobytes -dot- com; 'Milan DavidoviÄ'; 'Dan Goldstein'
Cc: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Subject: RE: More about the changes coming to tech writing

Conferences are expensive, except for people who live, at least in the State, if not in the city, where the conference is held.

Your first two paragraphs inform your third.

If people are getting into techpubs in their late twenties or early thirties (second career), they are still early in earning power - especially if they stepped sideways and lost some seniority, or even took a wee dip in compensation to get into the new-to-them field - AND they are in the young-family stage, probably with recent mortgages, so they have no discretionary income. If, as somebody else pointed out, there are no more training and professional-development budgets from employers, then the entire cost (including the limited vacation days available when one doesn't yet have seniority) is born by the writer. Either you spend those two weeks taking the family to Disney World (well, a few days driving there, and a few days driving back, 'cuz you can't afford to fly all five of you), or you spend one of those precious weeks at a conference. And you pay for your accommodation and conference expenses with what would have been the money for your family's hotel, food, and Disney day-passes. Those who understand how limited is the window to spend "quality time" with the kids and spouse, decide against the conference.

If they are getting into techpubs after their thirties, then well... they are already starting to resemble "the average age at conferences is getting older".

The above two paragraphs explain the demographic that you see, in large part.

The other large part is that so many people, but especially the younger, just assume that conferences are... or should be... webinars and podcasts and such. Who needs to travel?
Hell, if they got some academic credentials to help them make the career jump, chances are that much (all?) of the class time was on-line distance learning, so they are already primed to expect on-line stuff, as opposed to inconvenient, travel-to, expensive, live conferences.


-----Original Message-----
From: Sharon Burton
Sent: May-06-14 12:26 PM
To: 'Milan DavidoviÄ'; 'Dan Goldstein'
Cc: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Subject: RE: More about the changes coming to tech writing

Yes, the flaws are Tech Comm has always been a second career (in the 20+ years I've been in it). I've been teaching tech comm for 16 years and almost all my students have always been working professionals who are looking to change careers or get actual training in that they fell into.

Our field has always been skewed to over 35 (again for the 20+ years I've been in it). Expecting us to be a bell curve is unrealistic, as most people do not enter this field from college as accounting people do. It's not the demographic of our field.

That said, the average age at conferences is getting older, as the people who are younger in our field seem to not be attending as often. That's an interesting problem that organizations are looking at - how to engage the younger/new people to value conferences.


sharon

Sharon Burton
951-369-8590
www.sharonburton.com
Twitter: sharonburton
Author of 8 Steps to Amazing Webinars,
available on Amazon and bn.com



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Follow-Ups:

References:
More about the changes coming to tech writing: From: Cardimon, Craig
RE: More about the changes coming to tech writing: From: Dan Goldstein
Re: More about the changes coming to tech writing: From: Milan DavidoviÄ
RE: More about the changes coming to tech writing: From: Sharon Burton
RE: More about the changes coming to tech writing: From: McLauchlan, Kevin

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