"Newbie" seeks to work as independent

Subject: "Newbie" seeks to work as independent
From: Suzanne Schoenfeld <scho -at- IX -dot- NETCOM -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 18 Oct 1995 19:56:55 -0700

Mary Daly Solman writes:

> Hello, All:

> I'm a Denverite who hopes to find a niche as an independent tech
> writer/editor. I would prefer to work part-time from an office (or
> offices) and part-time from my home using Microsoft software (I own
> Office and Visual Basic products).

> I would also be interested in a junior-senior tech writer
> partnership so that I might "learn the ropes."

> Is there a market for these sorts of things? If so, how does one
> enter it?
> What types of assignments might I expect?

> Thank you in advance for your ideas! --MDS

In response, Jane Bergen wrote:

>Mary, I think you need to look at SEVERAL factors before you can
>answer your questions:

>* You use the word "newbie" so I assume that you have no tech writing
>experience. What about education? Do you understand what tech writing
>is all about? Many people assume that because their grammar skills
>are good that they can "do technical writing"!

>* What industry interests you? It may be software, hardware,
>multimedia, scientific, medical.....and on and on. What qualifies you
>to write about any of these things? Are you proficient on PCs, Macs?
>What do you know about desktop publishing?

>* Have you checked out the resources available to you, beginning with
>the local chapter of the Society for Technical Communication? They
>may have special interest committees such as Independent Contractors
>and Consultants. They may also have a mentoring program that matches
>new writers with more experienced writers.

>* What do you mean by "these sorts of things"?

>Good luck to you. You can learn from this list if you first just READ
>the posts for a few weeks. The folks here are helpful and
>knowledgeable, but also very no-nonsense. Most are busy professionals
>who are happy to answer serious, thoughtful questions.

>Jane Bergen


Did you get any useful information from Jane's post? (To me, it seemed
designed to put you in your place as a "newbie.")

Let me take a crack at it. I'm an independent contractor. Here's some
of the advice I got when I was first starting out:

1. Join the STC. Their phone number is 703 522 4114. I'm sure there's
a local chapter in Denver. Go to the meetings, read the newsletters,
get to know the writers in your area.

2. Buy the Technical Writer's Freelancing Guide, by Peter Kent (1992,
Sterling Publishing Company). It contains a great deal of information
about gettting started as an independent. A kind soul from this list
advised me to buy this book when I was getting started.

3. Take a class in technical writing at your local university. I did
this, and met many, many people who were extremely helpful and
friendly. I also learned a lot.

And, hey, if your writing skills are good you certainly can "do
technical writing." How do you think most of us got started? Only a
small minority have degrees in technical writing.

Good luck!

Sue S.
scho -at- ix -dot- netcom -dot- com

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