Sometimes, you have to cast your net a little wider to catch the talent your business needs. This is especially true with technical writers, as there aren’t that many of us around (not with qualifications and experience, anyway, and do you really want to risk using rookies?). For many businesses, that also means entertaining the idea of hiring a work-from-home technical writer on a freelance or contract basis. This can be a little daunting at first, but when you hire StrayGoat Writing Services, you will soon realise that you had nothing to worry about.
On this page, I’m going to answer some of the common questions I get about being a work from home technical writer. Hopefully, they will help put your mind at rest and lead you to getting in touch to hire me. (There are also links to pages about my experience, skills, knowledge, etc., so that you can find out exactly what benefits I will bring to your company.)
How Can a Technical Writer Work from Home?
Not all technical writing work can be done remotely. That’s a simple fact. Sometimes, there is a need to see a person face-to-face or watch a process taking place. But in my experience, those cases are the minority, not the majority. Thanks to the wonders of the Internet, it is very simple to create, edit, and rewrite content without being on site. I know, because I do it regularly, and if it wasn’t working, I wouldn’t be in business!
During my 18 year career as a technical writer, I’ve worked:
- Exclusively on-site for Serck Controls and Schneider Electric
- 100% from home for Savantini Ltd, working on their Kegel8 documentation
- A mix of remote work and on-site work for 4Energy Ltd
- 100% remote work for an Out of Hours Service Provider to the National Health Service
- 100% remote work for Remove My Car Ltd
- 100% remote work as a web copywriter for a wide range of small and medium sized businesses.
You see? I’ve been there, done it, and have a wealth of knowledge and experience that I can use to make sure your documentation hits the mark.
“Do you have your own Technical Communications Software?”
Yes, of course! I have my own copies of InDesign, MadCap Flare, Atlassian Confluence, and Word (and will soon have Adobe Captivate for creating e-learning). I’m an experienced user of all of these tools, and am a MadCap Flare certified advanced developer. You can find out more about my skills and experience on the expertise page.
“How Will You Interact with Our Team of Experts?”
There are two key parts to being a technical writer – getting the information from the minds of your ‘techies’ and then converting that into instructions and explanations that your customers can understand. To do that from home, all I need is access to your team. This can be by Skype, telephone, instant messaging service, or email, it doesn’t really matter. Although different time zones can make certain types of communication impractical.
What usually happens is that I will:
- Ask you experts about the general concept of a feature.
- Go away and try and use the feature.
- Write some information and instructions about the feature.
- If I need more information, I will email or instant message your expert some questions. If they are unavailable or there is a time zone difference, I may email instead.
- I will then create a first draft and send it to the expert to review.
- Use the expert’s comments to improve the content and then send back for review. When it is correct, I move on to the next piece.
When interacting with your team, I am very careful not to take up too much of their time or to ask the same questions over and over again. But I’m also very determined to make sure the content is accurate and meets the needs of your customers, so I don’t skim over things – if I think more detail is needed, I will keep asking for it until I’m sure your customers will have everything they need.
Don’t worry, I understand your team have their own deadlines and pressures and I’m not the sort of technical writer who demands answers immediately. It is all about being open, honest and understanding of people. Remember, I have done this for many years in big companies and smaller ones too, so I know how to get the information I need without upsetting people.
“What Hours Will You Work?”
I really hate commuting, but that doesn’t mean I like to lie in bed all morning. I’m always up early and like to start work early too. Where possible, I prefer to start at 07:30 or 08:00 UK time and finish at 16:00 or 16:30, with a 30 minute lunch break. While those are my ‘scheduled’ hours, I’m often on the computer in the evening too, so may be around to reply to emails then too.
“Ah, but Craig, how will I know you are working?” I hear you ask. That’s perfectly understandable, but it will become very clear when you hire me. Here’s why:
- I will be logged in to Skype and any other system you ask me to use
- I will be there, ready to respond to you as and when needed
- I will be asking lots of questions and making your team think about things in different ways. That’s because I will be acting like your customer, so my perspective may not be what they expected. It is an added benefit of hiring a professional technical communicator – you get some user testing and suggestions for improvements as well.
- I can keep a log of the pages I’ve worked on, if required.
- You will see content being reviewed or approved by your staff.
“What’s It Like, Being a Work from Home Technical Writer?”
It works for me, but it isn’t for everyone. Some people wouldn’t like the solitude and the lack of the ‘social’ aspect of work that comes with working from home. I actually prefer it, but then I’m not the most social of creatures. I think that’s quite common in writers, isn’t it?
“I’ve Never Hired a Work from Home Technical Writer Before”
If you are still unsure about hiring me as a work from home technical writer, why don’t you pay for first class air travel and accomodation and I’ll work on site? I’m joking, of course. I understand you may be hesitant if you’ve never hired a remote technical writer or freelancer of any sort before. So why don’t we just start things off slowly? Perhaps you have a small project you’d like to try me out on first? That’s fine by me. Or just dive in at the deep end and see for yourself how productive I can be.
I’d love to hear about your project, so please get in touch by completing the form on the contact page.