TechWhirl: Technical Communication Recap for September 14, 2012

This week’s update on technical communication and the TechWhirl community is supported by Platinum sponsor Madcap & their Ultimate Communications Suite, MadPak | http://bit.ly/zBI0Uj

Another one of those “evergreen topics” in technical communication made its way to the email discussion list courtesy of TechWhirl’s weekly curator, Craig Cardimon—the debate on what title a technical communicator should have when their responsibilities grow beyond “strict technical writing.” Some of us ancient mariner-types smile when we see this topic, remembering similar discussions over the years, and coming to the conclusion “I don’t really care what you call me, as long as you call me, and remember to pay me for the work.”  I looked at my full CV, and figured since I earned my undergraduate degree, I’ve had 14 different titles, so at some point in my career, I just stopped worrying about it.  Now all the versions of my resume relegate the chronological history and actual job titles to the back page so I can focus on the skills that I bring to a project.

How we brand ourselves can be a significant and visible part of the technical communication career upgrade. Our resumes serve as the collateral, our portfolios help build the unique selling proposition.  In the end we find a position, with a title that stops accurately reflecting what the job entails about a week after we onboard.

But when the career upgrade involves going out on your own, the tenor of the title often changes, consultant, principal consultant, advisor, strategist… and so on.  This week TechWhirl published two different perspectives on the world of technical communication freelancing.  Jacquie Samuels provided some excellent advice on a range of factors to consider when asking “Are You Ready to Make the Leap?” And Andrea Altenburg looks back at the “Five Things I Wish I Knew When I Made the Leap.”  Then we managed to craft our weekly technical communication poll around “What drives you to go it alone as a freelancer/independent consultant?”

LavaCon Conference 2012 is fast approaching, and we’re looking forward to presenting two sessions, and covering the conference from all the angles.  And we’ll be part of the crowd attending the Adobe Day Thought Leadership event in Portland on October 6.  If you’re planning to be there (and you really should, it’s an amazing opportunity), join the crowd of technical communication luminaries on hand for some great discussions and networking.

So as you relax and re-energize this weekend, you have the perfect opportunity to think about your technical communication career upgrade in terms of moving to the freelancing life… or not… Isn’t it great to have so many upgrade options?

Have a great weekend!

-The gang at TechWhirl

  Tech Writer This Week for September 14, 2012

The nights are getting cooler here in North America, but Technical Communication is hotter than ever. We found great stuff for tech writers from Tom Johnson, Mark Baker, Tom Smith and Ugur Akinci. Stretch yourself a bit and take a look at the interesting stuff happening in user experience and content strategy, and spend some time taking the Content Wrangler’s (Scott Abel) new benchmarking survey on technical communication and training.

  Technical Communication Captive to Freelancing Consultant

Like most thinking about the leap to fulltime freelancing, I had the dream of working at the local coffee shop sipping hot chocolate and working hard on the latest software documentation. My phone would ring with a new client that saw my website and just had to have my services. Then I made the plunge into freelancing while caring for my newborn, and had to wake up from that lovely dream.

Technical Communication Poll: What Drives You to Freelancing?

One of the career choices that seems to be an increasingly popular option for those in technical communication is deciding to “quit the rat race” and go it alone as a freelancer or independent consultant. A recent study by MBO Partners shows that the independent consulting segment of the workforce in the United States is more than 16 million workers, and continues to grow among all demographics. Choosing freelancing as a technical communication career path ranks right up there with the other big life decisions…

  Freelancing: Are You Ready to Make the Leap?

Back when I was taking my technical writing certificate at Seneca College in Toronto, one of my professors spent three hours chatting with us about what it’s like being a freelance technical writer. She laughed a lot about the highs and lows, but a few things she said jolted me out of my assumptions and made me sit up and pay attention. One of them was that she would take literally any job that had anything remotely to do with editing, writing, or teaching. Or websites. Or technology. Or people. Or extreme ironing. Let me share what else I’ve learned as I’ve transitioned from student to full-time employee to part-time consultant to full-time consultant over the last eight years, while balancing three houses, two cities, one wedding, and two kids.

Technical Communication News

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Connie Giordano

Connie Giordano is a partner in INKtopia Limited and editor of TechWhirl's Tech Writer Today online magazine. She has been a list member and contributor since the days when 14,400 baud was high speed communications, and Windows 95 was state-of-the-art.

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