Re: Have I subscribed to the right list?

Subject: Re: Have I subscribed to the right list?
From: Kat Nagel/MasterWork <katnagel -at- EZNET -dot- NET>
Date: Wed, 22 Nov 1995 09:42:31 -0400

Melanie asked about starting a tw career:

>Would it be better for me to apply for work as a potentially
>employable individual, or to become a "firm" seeking contracts?

I strongly suggest that you start building a portfolio -before- you take
off on your own. Start by writing for a local environmental organization,
hospital/medical center, or support/self-help group. Do newsletters,
brochures, educational materials for patients, etc., on a volunteer basis
if necessary.

Once you have material for your portfolio, you can start marketing your
services. Working for a company or a contract broker can keep you busy
earning a living while you add still more stuff to your portfolio. When
you have a string of happy clients, you should be able to successfully
strike out on your own.

>Where would I find information and guidance on current methods
>and practices for seeking this type of work?

Does your school library participate in international interlibrary loan
services? If so, get a copy of Peter Kent's book, Technical Writer's
Freelancing Guide. It's out of print, but -is- available through ILL.
(He's working on a revised edition, but you may not want to wait for that).
Some of the advice may have to be adjusted to fit the way business works
in the UK, but his book will give you a good idea of what the profession is

There are a number of UK folks listed in the STC membership directory. If
you send me your snailmail address, I can send you the contact information.
(Or, you could join STC and get your own copy of the directory <grin>)

>What steps could I take to increase the opportunities available
>and increase my level of suitability when these opportunities arise?

Join STC, or another technical writer's organization (I'm not sure what's
available on that side of the pond). Let people know you are new to the
field and looking for opportunities.

Read the professional journals in the field in which you plan on
specializing. Learn the vocabulary and important concepts. Get familiar
with the basic theories and techniques, and try to get a feel for the
directions of current research.

Learn at least one wordprocessor and one page layout program REALLY WELL.
Try to play with at least one more application in each category, to get a
feel for similarities/differences. This should make it relatively easy for
you to come up to speed with whatever software your employer/client throws
at you.

Good luck!

@Kat_____ Kat Nagel
MasterWork Consulting Services Rochester, NY
LIFE1 (techwriting/docdesign) katnagel -at- eznet -dot- net
LIFE2 (vocal chamber music) PlaynSong -at- aol -dot- com

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