There are several different ways to get work as a freelance technical writer. Thanks to the internet, you can choose from many jobs online from all over the world. There are also local jobs that can be had if you know who to ask.
- Local jobs: If there are engineering firms or manufacturing plants in your area, these may be places that use technical writers on a regular basis. Many engineering firms have in-house technical writers, but stating your intentions as a freelancer could mean getting some work when the in-house writers are overloaded. Technical writing is a very deadline-oriented task, and when there are many projects on the table, some firms will look to freelancers to help the staff meet the deadline. A degree in anything technical (such as computer science) or in writing (such as communications or journalism) is something that should be mentioned to a prospective client. Any prior professional experience in writing should also be noted. Employers also like to know if you have any experience in their particular industry. If you are approaching a software company, mention any work you have done in programming or computer courses you have taken.
- Online jobs: Freelancing websites often carry leads for technical writing jobs. Many of these can be done anywhere and do not require ever visiting the office. Job leads like these often come from Craigslist, which you may also want to check yourself; you will find freelance writing jobs listed from most major cities. Online technical writing jobs are competitive, so be sure to list any credentials and relevant experience that will get you noticed when seeking a technical writing job. If you have anything that has been published online, it is a good idea to send a link to it. If not, you might want to write something that you can send as an attachment to demonstrate your writing skills.
- Have a contract: The terms vary with the buyer, and it is a good idea to get an up-front contract specifying expectations and deadlines. Many freelance technical writers prefer to be paid in small increments as the work is completed. This entails an agreement specifying which milestones will be paid, such as every five or ten pages. Due to the occasional unscrupulous buyer, be absolutely certain that the buyer is trustworthy before agreeing to do all of the work and then get paid upon submission. An honest buyer should agree to a milestone payment system.
- Bidding sites: There are several bidding sites that regularly have technical writing projects available for freelancers. Freelancers must bid what price they will ask for their work, and try to convince the buyer that they are the right writer for the job. These sites will have a feedback system, so new writers will want to bid low in order to build up a rating. Some of these sites include RentACoder and Elance. RentACoder offers an escrow service so that the money is deposited into escrow before the work begins. Elance has an optional escrow service that writers can request. Both of these sites offer technical writing jobs of all sizes, from one pages write ups to reams of white papers.