by: Ivan Walsh
If you’re finding it difficult to get work in technical writing, then see if you can start a new career as a social media writer. The demand is definitely there. I found that it’s relatively easy to find contract work on social media sites if you have good technical writing skills and know how to add value to these sites, for example, how to write detailed answers on Quora.com.
Why switch from technical writing to social media writing?
Over the last eighteen months, freelance technical writing contracts have dried up as many companies look for ways to reduce costs and take writing tasks back indoors.
One way I’ve managed to pay the bills has been to work in social media, especially on LinkedIn and Quora, where my technical writing skills are a nice fit.
Especially when I don’t have to do all that much work. Let me explain …
Last year, I got the idea to put together a FLOSS Manual that covers Chromium, the Open Source version of Google’s Chrome Web browser. When I approached Adam Hyde of FLOSS Manuals about writing this manual at the book sprint at Toronto Open Source Week, he was intrigued.
But Adam strongly suggested that the sprint focus on Thunderbird, instead. Having annoyed Adam enough in the past, I complied. Mainly to keep the peace, and partly because I was interested in documenting Thunderbird.
Until earlier this year, the Chromium manual sat on the back burner waiting for me to find the time to start it. That’s when Edward Cheung, a student from Seneca College’s technical communication program, got in touch with me. Edward was wondering if there was a FLOSS Manuals project he could contribute to. In a case of being careful of what you wish for, I had one for him!
Working together, we created a table of contents and Edward put together a project plan. Then I cut him loose. After a lot of work, the manual got written and finalized. The results are better than pretty good — heck, I even learned a thing or two about Chromium!
Edward did a bang up job pulling this manual together. What impressed me most is that Edward took a lot of the initiative after I cut him loose. There was no hand holding. He gathered information, approached subject matter experts, and wrote most of the manual himself.
I wasn’t just someone barking orders. I did some writing — mostly the sections of the manual that cover Linux. But Edward did the bulk of the work. And he did it with minimal supervision. He only approached me when he had some questions or ran into a problem. Which wasn’t too often.
And I have to extend a big thank you to Mark Hancock who helped edit the manual. Mark’s edits really helped tighten up the text and helped keep it consistent.
The final edits and cleanup were completed last week, and overall the manual is looking good. If you’re interested in reading it, you can find it here.
More and more people in our wacky profession seem to be using, if not embracing, social media — things like Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin and more. But there are still a number who are still on the sidelines, wondering what social media can do for them and how they can contribute or use social media.
Judging whether or not social media is for you isn’t up to me. You really have to make that choice for yourself. But there are a few things you should consider when you’re thinking about making the jump into the social media world or deepening your involvement in that world.
Let’s take a look at a few of them.