There's a myth being passed around—like the common cold. It's widely believed that technical writers have an easy job, especially for those who are lucky enough to find a remote job in our expertise.
Remote ≠ Easy Work
The stress that comes with our job doesn't fade away just because you're working from home—or at your favorite local coffee shop. It simply means that you now have to deal with stakeholders who can define what they want but still want you to get it done under an unreasonable deadline. Ugh... Sigh...
And you still have to work with Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) who can't or won't make the time to meet with you and provide information they don't want to share—or even worse— don't know how to share.
Remote Technical Writing Jobs — Are They Truly "Easy and Remote"?
There's hope! You can find technical writing jobs that allow you to telecommute here in the U.S. and abroad (in other countries).
But in reality, it often means you're doing a lot of client-site visits, or you're having to rely on phone calls and emails. Those seem like the only "remote" technical writer jobs available at times.
And to be honest, this adds another level of stress to any Technical Writer's average work load. Our jobs are no easier than non-technical writing positions. Sorry.
The good news— it's not all bad! It's going to require attention to detail when perusing any job ad. There's real, legitimate 100% remote opportunities out there for all of us. And it's not about finding them, but them finding/choosing YOU.
"It's very important to go into this with an elevated mindset—but not too elevated. Remaining humble and patient is key. Don't let your vast technical knowledge and experience get to your head. Yes, we deserve what we're worth. We also must start from somewhere—and "somewhere" often requires hard work. If you expect the best, you must prove you are the best."
How to Stand Out, Be Attractive, and Grab That Real Remote Technical Writing Job
Reputable companies prefer established writers with a proven track record. It's that simple. You MUST be able to show proof that you're the best and worth a "100%" remote opportunity.
It's so critical to have a solid portfolio with recommendations in hand. So, don't burn bridges with former employers or clients you've worked for in the past.
Here's four major tips I'd like to share that helped me land several contracts in the past year:
#1 Build a strong portfolio: don't rely solely on LinkedIn or social media pages as your portfolio to showcase your Technical Writing abilities. Heck, I didn't even have a LinkedIn page before I landed my first dozen assignments.
What does this mean? You need to have links to your website or online storage ready that employers/potential clients can review. Include those amazing case studies and whitepapers you worked on recently at your brick-and-mortar job. But be careful—make sure you didn't sign an NDA or any other agreements against sharing them as "samples" and etc.
#2 Gain feedback—ask for a review—and happily receive it: not sure whether your portfolio or samples are making the cut? Well, if you aren't getting interviews or responses, there's something about your portfolio (or application details) that aren't standing out against the best-of-the-best applicants.
Ask experts or other highly-experienced writers for their opinions and feedback of your portfolio/ website/ samples. (And that's why I decided to go ahead and create a LinkedIn account—among other platforms— so that I can get expert mentorship and peer-to-peer advice. Yep, I'm a late bloomer. But, it's never too late!)
A special thanks to RWJ for taking the time to mentor me through a step-by-step journey that led to my first-ever client!
#3 Get recommendations from previous clients: again, don't burn bridges with current and previous clients. They really do talk in social groups within their industry and share the good and bad about certain freelancers—like me and you. (I'll save that story for another Honesty Blog Digest post...).
Obtain written recommendations, save them in a file folder or feature them on your website. Don't be fearful in asking for recommendations—you worked hard for your employer/clients and were probably underpaid, too. So, yeah, leverage a few good reviews and share them on you applications if you can. (Another impactful tip I learned through my RWJ mentor.)
#4 Always explain how you are fully equipped to work remotely: even if the application is a 100% remote technical writing gig, never forget to add a brief advantage you can offer as a "remote technical writer"...such as having high-speed Internet, strong connections to non-competitive SMEs and relevant resources, and your ability to attend remote meetings (if that applies).
Based on some RWJ principles I honed, selling yourself in those "Tell Me About Yourself" or "Why Should We Hire You?" sections of the application is like oxygen to the lungs—it's a vital key to stay relevant, being noticed, and getting shortlisted.
So, don't shy away from mentioning how great your time-management and research skills are on that next app (just a few examples among many)....but keep it brief and packed with attractive facts about yourself.
These may seem like simple and obvious tips, but believe me—many hopeful remote Technical Writers are not practicing at least 3 of these strategies consistently.
It's easy to get tired and become impatient with filling out all of those applications over and over again. Avoid the "burn out". Take breaks, vent in the Forum, pick someone's ear about their strategies for success, and keep it going.
You will get what you're looking for—very soon! Best of luck!
As an Information Technology worker bee, Sean Sanz is motivated to succeed as a remote freelancer and embark on entrepreneurial goals in the
Sean is a Contributing Author for Remote Writer Jobs.
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