Re: Writing for small businesses

Subject: Re: Writing for small businesses
From: "Cheryl L. Higgins" <cwhitnah -at- NETMEG -dot- NET>
Date: Fri, 12 Mar 1999 07:02:53 -0500


Promotional material, company employee manuals, job descriptions (official
for the files), if non-profit, grant proposals. Medical researchers write
papers and must comply with certain formats, such as submitting "abstracts"
prior to being accepted as a "paper"; Architects write 400 page "specs";
attorneys write briefs and Real Estate Attorneys need title searches done in
the Town Hall on laptops by searchers who can do 1-3 a day at a hundred or
two a pop. Printing presses usually will hire freelancers to do their
proofreading - now there's a thought - you need to use conventional
guidelines as to what to proof read, but that's easily enough come-by -
usually its check for consistent format and typos and the work is gotten by
calling the head copyeditor and they all send out "tests" easily passed if
you know the lingo and give them exactly what they want.

You can contact professional societies - the AIA for Archetects, a local
engineering firm, call them up and ask them, directly, honestly, what is
their writing needs? Many think they can do this for themselves, BTW, and
wont' pay outside. When the Co. is getting larger, they appreciate an
outside service. There are so many small software companies starting up -
how about offering to create little "cheat sheets" for their clients, just
to start? Even take it to Minit Print and have it printed onto stock, a
little color, laminated for coffee-protection, and bring the one copy of it
back in when you're done and they'll feel you have something to offer, if
you can get them to give you a "try" with one of those little 'cheat cards'.
A software product needs to have a "product Library" of documentation -
on-screen help, user manauals, technical manuals, set up manuals, cheat
sheets, white pages, all updated with every release, and most the time with
new start up cos the programmers are writing them - (have you ever read what
a programmer thinks an end-user can do??). I would call, alot. all of my
work has come from a phone call, to presses and software cos, to non-profit,
etc. People say "Well, yeah" to a "real" voice on the phone where they
might lay a letter aside and open another piece of mail, when it comes to
small businesses. Personally, I like mid-large businesses for freelance
work. They are beginning to structure themselves and need to document it.
THey are and will be in business for a while. They need to conventionalize
their documentation and can no longer get away with vague in-house projects.
They need writing and production of the documents, orgainization. Also,
many want a newsletter of their product on the web. Many have the site, and
might not need you to be HTML proficient, just write the stuff. Larger
places might conventionally "sub" their work out to "sub contractors" -
that's the phrase you might use in a phone call to query if they need work -
"Hi, I'd like to find out who your manager would be to talk to about
possibly doing some sub contract technical (marketing; legal; spec, etc.)
writing for your company" or "I'k like to find out if you use sub
contractors for your product documentation " etc.

Hope that helps you find the right gear...

Cheryl L. Higgins
----- Original Message -----
From: Megan E. Rock <megan -dot- rock -at- fanucrobotics -dot- com>
To: <TECHWR-L -at- LISTSERV -dot- OKSTATE -dot- EDU>
Sent: Tuesday, March 09, 1999 9:50 AM
Subject: Writing for small businesses

>Hi folks. I'm investigating opportunities to work part-time from home
>(evenings and weekends) doing professional writing and designing web sites
>for small businesses or organizations who don't need or can't afford to
>a fulltime writer or web designer on staff.
>I have worked for about two years as a technical writer, focusing on online
>documentation. My primary responsibilities have involved manipulating
>documentation that is provided to me by developers or other writers.
>That said, I don't have much technical or public relations writing
>experience. I think that I am a good writer and have strong technical
>writing skills, but I haven't had the chance to develop them in the real
>What specific types of written publications do small businesses and
>organizations need? I have thought of things like advertisements, flyers,
>brochures, letters to customers, and the like. What am I missing?
>Also, what is the best way for me to practice producing these kinds of
>documents? I have thought of handling it like we handled it in school:
>create these kinds of documents for an imaginary company so I get some
>practice and have something for a portfolio. Is this a good way to start?
>Can you recommend any books or web sites that discuss the documentation
>needs of small businesses?
>Please reply off the list. I will post a summary to the list (or send
>personal e-mail) if enough people are interested.
>Megan E. Rock
>Electronic Documentation
>(248) 377-7948
>megan -dot- rock -at- fanucrobotics -dot- com
>From ??? -at- ??? Sun Jan 00 00:00:00 0000==

From ??? -at- ??? Sun Jan 00 00:00:00 0000=

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