First, let’s define what technical writing is. Technical writing is text composed for occupational and scientific endeavors. Typical examples of technical writing would be reports on technology, copywriting, policy guidebooks, handbooks, and much more.
And secondly, let’s answer a burning question: do you need to know about these fields in order to write about them? The answer is “not necessarily, but it is good to have at least a cursory knowledge in them.” So, you can apply to a biotechnology company as a technical writer without knowing much about biotechnology. However, before you apply, and during the interview process (whether online or in-person), you should investigate about this field in-depth.
Looking for a Remote Technical Writing Job?
This is even more important when you are seeking for technical writing jobs from home, where the interaction with other staff is at a minimum. This means you need to be on top of your researching game in order to write about the field you are applying in. However, employers often give a guidebook to their employees on the company’s style of writing, information about the company, about services, and general information. Don’t just skim over these guidebooks or handbooks—read every drop of them, and absorb the information properly.
Also, if you are looking for technical writing jobs from home, you have to be self-disciplined. If you wrote in your resume, “self starter” or something similar, then you are on the right track. No one will physically be looking over your shoulder while you work. You will have to be your own taskmaster. And believe me, technical writing jobs and their deadlines are no joke. So, you’ll have to learn to pace yourself well over an 8-10 hour period each day. Experiment and see what works better for your productivity. Some people like to do most of their work in the morning, and then coast through at a leisurely pace throughout the afternoon into the evening. Others like to leave the big projects to the last two hours of the day, while they work on menial things in the earlier hours. It is all up to you to choose, and to figure out which is best for you.
Where to Find Those Jobs
Now, where do you find technical writing jobs from home? They are all over the internet. On many job board sites, such as Indeed, Ziprecruiter, Craigslist, LinkedIn, and many more. The keyword you have to use is “remote” or “freelance” in combination with “technical writing.” If you do not want to work in an office, or have no availability to do so, these keywords can be your ticket to your new future.
A word of warning, however: reading job descriptions carefully is essential, especially for technical writing jobs from home. You have to make sure the job description actually states that the work is remote or freelance work at home. You also have to see if you have the proper qualifications for the job you are applying for. Recruiters have to flip through thousands of applications, and often applicants submit an application for a job they are not qualified for. It may be the level of education you have, the technical know how, the years of experience you have, and much more. Make sure you match up with those qualifications, or else you are doing a disservice to these employers.
The Process of Finding a Job
For technical writing jobs from home, you will often be screened through email interaction and phone interviews and/or video chat interviews. On occasion, you will have sit-down interviews for remote and/or at-home freelance jobs. But the most common circumstance is being contacted via email, and then having one-three phone interviews to decide if you are the right fit. During these interactions, be personable, but not unprofessional in any way. You can throw a witticism here and there, but it is best to avoid comic relief. The standard is to remain professional in tone but amiable at the same time. No one wants to hire a robot, and no one wants to hire a joker.
The other requirements for being a technical writer is that you should enjoy writing. If you don’t enjoy the act of writing, you have no business being a technical writer. The word “technical” should scare off a few people, and there is a reason: technical writing is not that exciting. It often involves writing policy forms, handbooks, guides, textbooks, data reports, and other informational documents that are useful for clients of a company or for employees of a company. To be a technical writer, you should be able to enjoy the process of communicating a message as succinctly and efficiently as possible. However, this does not mean you should write like a robot. You should have a voice, and add some human elements in the writing. Your writing should be dynamic, not monotonous.
The other requirements for finding technical writing jobs from home is a good amount of experience in writing and editing, preferably in technical fields. The level of education is not as important as your experience is, though a Master’s degree does look better than a Bachelor’s degree on paper. If you are just getting out of college and are looking for technical writing jobs from home, make sure you have at least internship experience in the field or have volunteered for technical writing projects.
Doing an internship or getting involved in mentorship is especially important for technical writing careers, as it is a great way to learn if it is the right field for you. This type of writing can wear down your nerves. When you get similar assignments for over one year, 5 days a week, 40 hours a week, the work can start to feel impossible to do. You might have a lack of motivation, enthusiasm, or inspiration. All these factors are key when being a technical writer, as without them, this work can be tortuous. Good music and a fine cup of Earl Grey can be an aid though.
People who are analytical, enjoy being efficient in language, and who take pleasure in finding ways to communicate a message are fit to become a technical writer, besides the technical knowhow one might have. Though technical writing does not seem creative, it does have some creative components. For instance, you need to be creative with how you word phrases and messages in general. Usually, you have guidelines you need to be abide by, and to work around those guidelines takes a certain amount of artistry. You also need to know the art of reading like a witness of your own writing: being able to see what readers will see. You should write in a way that your clientele and/or other staff will readily understand. If you doubt the comprehension of some of your writing, then you should do your best to change it to something more suitable.
Another aspect of thinking about technical writing jobs from home is that you have to find a comfortable place to work. This is not easy, especially if you have a family with children. Often, going to a library or a cafe will suffice to get away from any distractions at home. However, if you are set at working at home, find the most suitable room you can: quiet, not too colorful, away from distractions, and with the proper equipment. You will need a chair you can work in all day. Believe me, having an uncomfortable chair will ruin your back and your body will be in pain in general if you don’t invest in a chair appropriate for long hours of sitting. The next thing is you need a proper desk that is not cluttered and that is not too high or too low. Ergonomics is not a joke: it can save yourself from surgery and unnecessary chronic pain. Once again, you do not want to torture yourself through your work.
Now to the job finding process itself. My favorite place to find remote and freelance work that you can do at home is on Craigslist. It is quite a basic site, but its possibilities are practically unlimited in terms of jobs. Search for your city and go to the “writing/editing” section in the jobs category. Apply to every job that suits your qualifications that is listed as remote or freelance. Treat your job search like a job itself. Work 8 hours a day, 5 days a week at finding a job there. If you are currently working, set a limit for how many jobs you will apply for—for example, 3 a day.
I mentioned Indeed.com, LinkedIn.com, ZipRecruiter, and other services. These can work as well. I just have had better success on Craigslist. Also, there are sites like Freelancer.com and Fiverr.com that allow you to freelance through their services. However, there is often a catch with these companies. They usually take a cut from your paycheck, sometimes 20%. On Craigslist and other traditional job boards, at least you can be sure you will get paid your due.
Well, this has been a basic breakdown of finding technical writing from home. I hope this article has been informative. I wish you the best with your remote and/or freelance technical writing career!