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Posts Tagged ‘technical writing’

Between the usual freelance load and my half-time gig at the Global Giant Consumer Electronics firm, the blogging has been next to nil. Well, the Global Giant thing is winding down, as the office is pulling up its Charleston roots and moving Up North. But it’s all good.

It’s been an OK ride. Good people, downtown location, good schedule, GREAT money, etc. But as for the work itself…meh. Unfortunately, conditions on the ground did not quite match the job description at the outset. It wasn’t a matter of misrepresentation, but some big changes in business conditions that shook up the job mix.

Basically, what promised to be a healthy mix of web, video, brochure, point-of-sale, trade show, special projects and technical writing became overwhelmingly technical writing. Nothing against tech writing, but it’s not my strong suit, and not what I enjoy.  You can read my thoughts on that here.

So, after enduring it for a while and pushing through some huge projects, I turned in my notice. The timing seemed right; freelance, which had been kind of sleepy throughout the summer of 2010, was making a comeback. I gave a healthy 4-week notice and suggested to my boss that he try to find a true tech writer to do the, you know, tech writing, and perhaps save me for the creative stuff. He agreed, and… and… and then they announced they were closing the Charleston office.

Funny, you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, you wail and gnash your teeth and cry out in anguish, “How much LONGER can I do this job?” Then you get the answer: four weeks. And you’re like, “Cool.”  So, I will be in the office until the first week in December or so, and then go home and wait for those creative projects the boss promised. Will they come? The office is supposed to be closed by spring, so we will see.

At every big serious gig I take, I am always trying to figure out “why I am here.” What is the lesson I am supposed to be learning? How will this benefit me in the future?  In some ways I think the “purpose” was that I needed to support myself throughout a sleepy freelance period.  Another thought was that I always said I could never, would never, do technical writing. But I did. I didn’t love it, and I never felt very proficient at it, but I did it. And I suppose I could do it again if absolutely necessary.

So, soon, it’s back to the full time pursuit of freelance work. And blogging more regularly, because I need to rebuild my Google strength.  So stand by for more pearly pearls of freelance copywriting wisdom, fans of freelance copywriting wisdom!

Contact livelyexchange (at) gmail.com!

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Can you (and by you I mean me) find writing jobs in the want ads? If you don’t live in New York, Chicago, or anywhere there are more people than livestock, I’m not so sure. Every town is different, of course, and there are different kinds of writing.

Take Charleston, for example. Type “writer” into the search box. Immediately scratch off the five “Service Writer” jobs at the local auto dealers. And you are left with about 20 legitimate writer ads a day. Sounds great for a town the size of Charleston (the #80 metro area.) However, I guarantee you 19 of those 20 ads will be for a Technical Writer.

Let me pause and say that there are jobs I can do and like doing. There are jobs I can do but don’t like doing. And there are jobs I can’t do well, and don’t care to improve because I don’t like doing them. Technical writing is the latter.

And technical writing is where it’s at in Charleston, particularly in government contracting.  It’s strictly “tab A into slot B equals cruise missile.” I have done a fair amount of government/military stuff, but it has been on the marketing end, for instance: “Somewhere in a far-off, dusty land the Liberty Gun stands a lonely vigil, tirelessly defending the freedoms we hold dear.” Hey, I just made that up…wanna buy it?

When you do find a marketing/advertising writer job, they tend to boil down to the following: “Looking for 23-year-old kid seeking first big break to serve as our entire communications department. Must be proficient in every software program created in the past 20 years. Strict adherence to AP style! Must love long hours, intense pressure and low pay.”

So, I tend to read the ads not to find jobs, but companies. A company searching for a webmaster, public relations director or publications manager obviously needs writing services. Do they need them enough to hire your freelancin’ ass? Well, that’s what you have to find out.

I try my best to associate a name with the company, which isn’t easy sometimes. First of all, half the ads are from recruiters (Hulk angry! Hulk SMASH!) However, if you are searching locally, there are times you can piece together enough clues to make a guess. They make a certain thing? They’re located in a particular suburb? Then it’s probably XYZ Corp.

Then I head to their website, if they have one. Their About page might have officer bios, maybe even with email links. Or, their News page might have press releases, at the bottom of which you may find “For further info contact Joe Blow, Corporate Communications Director.”

There you have it, my fellow ink-stained wretches. Use your innate creativity to turn your miserable job search into an exciting detective novel…and make looking for work up to five percent less humiliating!

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