Many companies outsource their technical writing projects and some small companies don’t need to keep a technical writer on staff permanently, which means there are many freelance technical writing positions available, advertised on the Internet or found by networking.
Get listed on a variety of portfolio or freelance job posting websites, including sites that provide content for other technical work such as programming or web design, such as eLance and iFreelance. The best portfolio sites allow employers to post projects and freelancers to bid on the project so they can build up their network for referrals. On iFreelance, for example, it is possible to upload work samples, bid on available projects and rate personal experience, so a person looking to hire a freelancer evaluate a writer’s potential on the site.
A personal website is a must for all freelancers, but a technical writer can get the most knowledge out of a site that incorporates a blog. A blog will allow a technical writer to comment on news and events in their field, to write timely technical documentation and to build up a readership that will include potential employers. Blogging for others is also a good way to build connections, generate some sample writing and to make a little bit of extra money.
Employers will prefer to hire a trustworthy and responsible freelancer, since it may be relatively easy to find a freelancer, just not a responsible and well-trained technical writer. Joining a professional association can help a freelance technical writer build up their professional reputation and provides access to a professional membership directory and getting more experience and skills through professional development.
There are also technical writing projects that may be too big for one writer, so a technical writer will reach out to the other professionals that she knows to share the work. The best way to find out about these projects is by meeting other freelancers and that takes attendance at industry events, which are usually offered by the professional association. For technical writers, the main association is the Society for Technical Communication.
A recruitment firm can be a good source of employment for technical writers, since some companies will use a temporary agency to find and screen freelancers to work for their company on either a short or long-term basis. Temporary agencies can also be asked to find technical writers for companies that may not normally hire a technical writer, such as a law firm that needs a guide for using a specific database, or a small enterprise that needs a manual for their non-techie staff to make updates to their website. In these cases, a company may turn to a temporary agency that they have a good relationship with to find a technical writer, rather than conducting their own search.
LinkedIn is an online business networking site that allows users to build a profile, including a printable resume, upload content from a blog and join groups to interact with other professionals on the site. LinkedIn is a good forum to network with other professionals that use technical writers, such as programmers, website designers and publishing companies. Technical writers can also be recommended for positions that are only accessible via LinkedIn to other professionals on the site who have asked to only receive resumes from people within their trust network.