3 remote technical writer lessons

Photo by Daria Nepriakhina on Unsplash

I’ve become sort of a student of remote working because of my freelancing and consulting work. A special area of interest is the changes (both good and bad) in dynamics and project management that sometimes occur when a remote technical writer joins the team.

While this post speaks more about remote technical writing projects, you may find that you’ve bumped up against one or more of these things while working as a remote writer:

Microsoft Office might just be your Frenemy

While some may color me a “Microsoft Office fanboy”, Microsoft Office is ubiquitous in my local marketplace so I’ve had to make it work to get my job done. As a remote writer, you may have to contend with file corruptions, template issues, and sundry document format and versioning issues all on your own. A couple of document versions put together with bad habits may mean your remote writing project becomes more of a font fondling exercise in (re)formatting the document. My advice is t do your best to own all facets of the document you are writing including the template and document management.

Out of sight shouldn’t be out of Mind

Writing projects especially those of the technical writing persuasion are usually lowest on the project manager’s list of priorities but still rank as a line item on a project schedule. It’s important to keep your writing project from falling off the project manager’s radar. You can do this by actively participating in team status calls; making your presence known through IM sessions; and doing what you can so you and your writing project(s) make project milestones and get the attention and resources they need to complete successfully.

Like it or not you are a project manager

Whether you are an employee, contractor, or freelancer working remotely, project management is part of your responsibilities whether explicitly or not. Too often writing projects can be ignored and you have to implement your own project management and communications strategy. Then again, if your experience has been anything like mine, you’ve found that there are a lot of managers who don’t understand what it takes to deliver a writing project. If you find yourself strapped with a manager like this, expect an education exercise at best and at worst keep a paper trail of your communications with management.

These are only a few things that came to mind based upon my own experience and discussions with clients and professional colleagues.

What lessons have you learned from remote writing projects?


Hey there! My name is Will Kelly. I’m a technical writer and content development manager living and working in the Washington, DC area. After spending years focusing on technical and SDLC documentation, much of my work now focuses on thought leadership content and marketing collateral. My articles have been published by DevOps Agenda, Mobile Business Insights, TechBeacon, CNET TechRepublic, and others. Follow me on Twitter: @willkelly.

More thoughts from another Summer 2018 vacation

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I couldn’t bear to spend a milestone birthday at home in Northern Virginia, so I found myself in Miami Beach for a few sun-soaked (and sweaty) days. It was good to get away again. Years ago, I was in Miami on a project and had to stay over a weekend. The client pointed us to Miami Beach, and I’ve been back a few times since then.

Continue reading “More thoughts from another Summer 2018 vacation”

The technical writer’s 5 best friends

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Technical writers need to expand their personal and professional friends because they need to. Building a strong personal and professional network
1. The product manager
The product manager can be the technical writer’s best friend or worst enemy. Knowing a competent product manager can aid technical writers to better understand the product they are documenting.
On the dark side, when faced with incompetent product management, a technical writer with their grounding in writing product requirements and functional specifications can help be a voice of reason during the triage of ambiguous or plain technically unfeasible requirements.
2. The senior DBA/database architect
The whole world and many of today’s leading-edge web applications run on databases making a senior DBA and database architect a valuable friend indeed.
3, The storage area network engineer
Let’s face it all the business world’s data (and secrets) live on one SAN or another.
4, The financial controller
It never hurts to know the person who handles the money and processes the checks. This is true for employees not just freelancers and independent contractors.
5. The solution architect
Solution architects and network architects can be valuable friends of the technical writer because of their responsibilities over the design of solutions.
Who are your five best friends as a technical writer?

 

Photo by Drew Farwell on Unsplash

Installing Drupal: Lessons Learned

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Here are some lessons I learned a few years back when I was installing Drupal for the first time.  It was a rather mixed experience.  I tore it all down the other weekend and started over, not as much out of disappointment, but to knock the kinks out of my first deployment.

Here are some lessons I learned:

Continue reading “Installing Drupal: Lessons Learned”