While I’ve had a lot of fun as a freelance technical writer since my layoff last September, I’m keeping my options open to get a longer term onsite contract and yes even full-time employment with salary and benefits in a staff technical writer position. The market has been tough. A disconcerting thing I’m seeing on this job hunt is the rise of part-time technical writing contracts or staff positions.
I worked on my first remote technical writing project when dial up was still dominant in homes and I find myself still learning as I go along. Remote technical writing projects can work. However, I’ve come to see over time that not every organization can support remote writers. Likewise, not every writer is cut out to be working remotely.
Here are a few best practices I’ve come across over the years:
2012 could have ended up much worse of a year than it actually did. While I didn’t make good on some of the 2012 plans, I got through the year and landed on my feet.
Here are some of the lessons I learned this year:
I was reminded recently about how much the successful management of remote writing projects relies on common sense, communications, and teamwork. Looking back over previous part-time remote projects I’ve worked on the lack of one of those elements usually made for a lot more difficult of a project.
However, I’m the first to say that communications are a two way street between the remote writer and the mother ship.
I am past the three month mark working from home again and haven’t gone completely Lord of the Flies or gone total hermit yet. On the other hand, spending three years on a federal government contract might have made me a hermit. Some things had really changed since the last time I worked from home with any frequency.
Here are some observations from what I call Working from Home Redux:
The way people use Microsoft Word largely hasn’t changed much since the product initially launched. However, since Office 2003, Microsoft Office application and Word in particular have become more integrated with other applications and the cloud.
If your usage of Microsoft Word largely hasn’t changed much in the past few years even though you and/or your employer are upgrading to Office 2010 then there are some underutilized features you might be missing but could benefit your work.
I’ve been relearning a lot about strategy lately since I’ve been thrust back out on the job market. While I’ve been fortunate to have a lot of small projects right now, I still need to land a longer term contract or another full time position. I am thankful to get back to writing again all the while trying to be more strategic in my next professional move. As such a larger project has been fine tuning my brand and strategy.
A recurring theme I am seeing lately is Change. I’ve always been a big fan of change. Heck, a large chunk of my career was spent as a contract technical writer where I had to learn how to adapt to new organizations, technologies, and cultures. Change is a cornerstone of the contract technical writer life. My personal life has gone through a number of changes in the past two years as well. While the changes were largely positive, it was stressful at times until I got through to the other side.
Change is something that many organizations and people want. However, change is not for the complacent. In early stage companies, change means that the first in may not retain their positions so change is not in their personal interests even if it is best for the business. This can produce many unforeseen obstacles because once a state of dysfunction recedes, people can be without a job.
My last official day at my day job is September 14th so it seems time for another edition of Random And Recent Projects. Here are my random and recent projects from the last few weeks:
- Job hunt! Job hunt! Job hunt! I am an experience senior technical writer with writing experience across multiple industries. Check out my LinkedIn Profile for more information about my professional experience, background, and links to my published writing. Contact me to request a resume, secure my services for a project, or to bring me in for an interview.
- Opening myself up to contracting again. I was a staff employee for three years after spending a big chunk of my professional technical writing career as a contractor. As my availability page states, Will Kelly is now available for a new full-time or contract position in the Washington, DC/Northern Virginia area beginning September 17, 2012. The big focus for me right now is to get back to writing on a challenging project sometime soon.
- Writing more for CNET TechRepublic.com. While my work regularly appears on the Tablets in the Enterprise and Smartphones blogs, you may see my name pop up in other parts of the site.
- Bought an Android tablet. I purchase a Google Nexus 7 tablet because I wanted to learn about what Android so I can open myself up to some Android tablet writing assignments after being solely focused on iOS for a while now.
- Learning Joomla. I migrated willkelly.com to Drupal last year in a fit of boredom and desire to learn something new. Now, I am building a site out using Joomla that should go online sometime in October.
- Reading. I’ve been doing a lot of professional reading and got some interesting personal reading done by the pool last summer.
- Office 365. I’ve been keeping my SharePoint skills sharp using Office 365.
This isn’t my first layoff so I am not letting myself grow complacent and in fact I am looking forward to what the future holds.