As 2018 comes to a close, I’ve begun to start thinking about some content goals for the next year. My intent has always been to have the right mix of personal and professional writing projects to keep me busy. While my day job has been quite demanding the past few months, my freelance writing projects not so much, I’ve been looking forward so I can kick off writing in 2019 on a positive foot.
Here are a few of my content development goals for 2019:
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?
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.
I was cleaning out my home office recently and came across a collection of Non-Disclosure (NDA) Agreements that I’ve signed over the years as a technical writer. A quick leaf through of the folder made it clear that many of the NDAs were much the same if not identical.
As a tech industry contractor or employee, you need to consider the following about NDAs:
Years ago, I thought it was a good idea to publish both a professional website and a personal blog. It was around the time I was able to purchase willkelly.com and willkelly.org. I was a contract technical writer and figured that the sites would help people find me in search results. Then reality set in…
For me at least, the first casualty of billable work is personal publishing. As time went on, I grew less dedicated to my personal blog because of a busy schedule and some life events. Eventually, I took my personal blog offline after the hosting provider didn’t notify me about some backend issues.
I’ve been out of full-time contracting for almost two years and recently thought back to some of the stranger things I saw during the contract technical writer chapter of my life:
A fellow contractor was posting nude pictures of his wife on Usenet from his client account. He was busted and walked offsite by armed security guards when a Usenet reader emailed the Webmaster of the client’s domain.
A client who demanded the word, Please be used to begin every procedure in a user guide.
Contract agency recruiters who just told so many obvious lies I wondered if their nose grew. There should be a special place in hell for unethical contract agency recruiters.
A contractor who got sick and went AWOL while on a business trip to NYC. The contracting agency had to evict her from her hotel room. After taking over her hotel room, I could understand how she would want to lay in bed all day in that hotel.
A contractor who inflated their resume so much it made me see the problems that swept along technical writers and swept along trainers cause for real professionals.
A contractor who quit via email the Sunday evening before leaving Monday on a trip to Los Angeles. He knew the whole time he was going to stop. While I understand At-Will Employment cuts both ways, there is professionalism and decency.
Once upon a time, contractors could always count on other contractors. I stayed too long at the party. The contracting market I entered was not the same one I left.
What weird things did you see as a contract technical writer?