It’s Not Easy Finding a Technical Writer for Short Contracts. Maybe I Can Help?
Finding a technical writer for a permanent role or a 6 or 12 month contract can be tricky, but at least there are plenty of recruitment agencies to help. If you need a technical writer for a short contract, for example, for a couple of weeks to update a user guide or convert from one format to another, it can be difficult to find suitable people. But you may be in luck, as I do take on smaller projects from time to time, even if I am fully booked during the week.
If you’ve landed on my site for the first time, let me introduce myself – I’m Craig Wright, an experienced UK technical writer. I’ve worked as a technical writer since 1997 and have worked predominantly on software user guides and online help, but I’ve also crafted marketing content, web content, and training material. I’m a fellow of the ISTC and have a degree in Technical Communication too, so I know the theory and have plenty of hands-on experience – just what you need.
Technical Writer for a Small Job
If you need a technical writer for a ‘small’ job, and I have time in my schedule, I’ll be happy to help you. But what is a ‘small’ job? For me, it would be a project that needs just a few days’ work or a couple of weeks’ work at the most. This tends to be an appropriate amount of time for small web sites, proofreading, minor updates, re-formatting, and converting jobs. It is rarely enough time to write a user guide or online help from scratch.
Creating technical documentation that works for your customers is not just a case of documenting settings and ‘how to’. That’s the lazy, bare-bones way of doing it. To make your documentation work, it needs to be goal-orientated, i.e. telling your customer’s how to achieve their goals, not describing your product. There is a big difference. For example, I recently had to write some instructions for using a sat-nav system. The sat-nav already had a manual, but it just listed every setting with a one-line description. Unsurprisingly, the drivers that used the system didn’t know what to do – were they supposed to use every setting at the start of every shift? Were some settings only for use in certain situations? Needless to say, it was more work than initially anticipated.
It is also important to realise that conceptual information is important. Your customers need to know why and when they should use your products’ features, not just how. In more complicated products, especially highly technical software, it is vital that users know how their actions will affect the system as a whole.
These are just a couple of points to bear in mind – you may think a project is small, when in fact it is a lot of work. And of course there are some projects that seem large to begin with, but turn out to be pretty straight-forward.
I’ll help you judge the size of your project and give an estimate of time-scales when we discuss the work.
Why Don’t More Technical Writers Work on Short Contracts?
It is the nature of our business, I’m afraid. Most software technical writer and hardware technical writer contracts tend to be for 6 month-12 month periods. Most writers will go for those, just for the extra security and stability. I’m the same, only I don’t like having all my eggs in one basket, so try to work on several part-time contracts rather than 1 full-time one. That’s why I sometimes have time to take on small projects, like yours.
If I’m Fully Booked, I May Know Other Technical Writers for Short Contracts
You’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain by getting in touch. Even if I can’t be your technical writer due to other commitments, I know many other technical authors who could help.
What Do I Need from You?
To start with, please send me an email and tell me what you need, what documentation (if any) you already have, and what format it is in (Word, HTML, FrameMaker, etc.). It’ll also help if you let me know where you are based, whether I’d need to visit your site, and what sort of timescales you are looking at.
To get in touch, please send the details on my contact form page. I look forward to receiving your message and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.