Making Six Figures as A Freelance Technical Writer - A Complete Guide
There are all kinds of jobs available to freelance writers, from writing blog content to ghostwriting novels.
But if you want freelance writing to be a highly lucrative career, it’s best to enter the world of technical writing.
You could even earn a six-figure salary.
What do freelance technical writers do?
Whether you’re just embarking on your career or you’re looking for a career change, a technical writing job could be the right choice for you.
Freelance technical writers work on various projects, sometimes for multiple industries.
They specialise in creating highly technical written content on specialised topics, ranging from website development to engineering.
What skills do technical writers need?
Technical writers not only need to be skilled in writing and have knowledge of the specific industry they’re working for. They also need to possess skills like critical thinking, research, and communication skills.
Other important skills that technical writers require include:
- Excellent editing skills.
- Time and project management skills.
- Marketing skills.
What industries hire technical writers?
Once you develop technical writing skills, there’s a wide range of industries that you could consider working for.
By researching what types of industries hire technical writers, you can adapt your skills appropriately to suit specific niches.
Here are just some of the industries that commonly use technical writers.
The Software Industry
There’s an increasing demand for technical writers in the software industry, especially in the API space.
You could write developer-to-developer documentation or customer-oriented documentation.
The Heavy Machinery Industry
The heavy machinery industry always needs technical writers to write things like manuals and user guides.
You could write operating procedures, catalogues of parts, or product descriptions.
The Aerospace Industry
The aerospace industry requires a lot of technical documentation and instructions.
But if you want to work as a technical writer in this industry, you’ll need to have a degree in a subject like aeronautical or aircraft maintenance engineering and be familiar with various aircraft systems.
The Education Sector
Technical writers are in high demand in the education sector.
Working in this sector, you could produce a wide variety of content. For instance, you could be responsible for designing e-learning programmes or writing training courses for students.
Common Types of Technical Writing
A broad range of work and industries is available to freelance technical writers.
Here are some of the most common types of technical writing.
As a technical article writer, you would write editorial pieces for magazines and other online publications that focus on a specialised topic or product.
Technical Guides and Manuals
This type of technical writing involves writing guides and manuals that instruct people how to use items. For instance, you could write a guide on how customers should use a specific power tool.
Technical manuals include other details, like how to use, maintain, and troubleshoot a particular product.
Software companies need writers for API documentation.
And content for API documentation, which is used to help perform API tests, is actually one of the most lucrative areas of technical writing.
Policies and Procedures
Technical writers can create policies and procedures for companies in order to define standard protocols for multiple situations.
For instance, you could write about things like hiring procedures, employee benefits packages, and work-from-home policies.
If you have experience working in a B2B industry, you’ll be in a good position to write white papers, which are documents used by marketing teams to highlight product details or to explain new solutions regarding products or services.
White pages range between six and fifteen pages.
Writing white papers is one of the most lucrative types of technical writing. You can typically earn between £2,500 and £5,000 per paper. You could even earn around £8,000 for writing a high-end white paper.
How much can you earn as a technical writer?
As we have seen with the above white paper example, technical writers have the opportunity to earn high amounts.
However, the salary you earn will depend on things like the type of technical writing you do, the industry you work in, and the experience you have.
According to the job site Indeed, the average base salary of technical writers in London is £51,347 per annum.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t earn a six-figure sum per year if you put your mind to it and get hired for the right kinds of positions.
For instance, technical writer Peter Kent has written a book called Making Money in Technical Writing: Turn Your Writing Skills into $100,000 a Year, which details how he accomplished earning a six-figure salary through technical writing.
Kent states that some technical writers can even earn around $150,000 (USD) per year, which is about £123,000 (GBP).
How can you break into high-earning technical writing?
According to technical writer Peter Kent, the best way to get started if you want to break into high-earning technical writing is to sell your services through technical-service agencies.
But of course, you’ll first need to become proficient in technical writing for certain niches, so make sure you spend time building up a freelancing writing career and enhance your technical writing capabilities before you approach technical-service agencies.
That means getting onto freelancing sites and researching and practising technical writing.
After you have gained work through an agency, to get to the next level and start earning serious money, you’ll need to generate leads and approach clients directly.
As long as you get to clients before agencies do, and you can demonstrate that you have the skills and experience that clients are looking for, you can soon build a lucrative freelance career.
So, to get started as a technical writer, the main steps involve:
- Choosing a technical writing area of expertise.
- Creating writing samples.
- Creating an online portfolio.
- Contacting potential clients.
It will take time to earn a six-figure salary through technical writing, but with time, skill, dedication, and perseverance, there’s no reason why you can’t attain a salary of more than £100,000 per year.