How to be a Freelance Technical Writer

Freelance Technical Writer

Writing is one freelance option that offers many jobs in the market today. Technical writing is one branch of writing that offers substantial money early on in your career.

A certification and a love for writing can get you on the ‘write’ track. The culture of freelance work and the scope of its reach have increased it is a more viable and comfortable option to a run-of-the-mill desk job.

There are many reasons you should consider freelancing. Extra income, work from home, be able to take on multiple tasks, independence; the list goes on. Whatever your preferences, you can be assured it is a good career option.

Freelance Technical Writing Jobs

Your duties as a Freelance technical writer would revolve around writing technical content. For instance, an IT organisation that makes banking software, may hire you to write the specific brief and technical specifications of a product.

Let us have an in-depth look at some of the duties that will fall under your purview, as a technical writer:

  • Create content based on principles regarding order, clarity, conciseness, style and terminology
  • Maintain the quality of content and a record of files and work revisions
  • Edit, standardise or rephrase material prepared by others or fellow writers
  • Confer with customer reps, vendors, executives to determine technical specifications and determine subject material
  • Review published content and revise scope, format and content if needed

Technical Writing Skills

Technical writers must have similar skills to writers, but they also have some additional skills over the ones who develop copy, or pen novels. There are many skills that you will be needed to master, if you wish to become a technical writer. Some include:

  • Writing skills
  • Technical skills
  • Knowledge of tools like Adobe Acrobat, Camtasia Studio, Adobe Captivate, Dreamweaver, Madcap Flare, Framemaker, Photoshop, Robohelp, Snagit, and Visio
  • Design skills
  • Research skills
  • Content development
  • Content Management

There are many websites where you can learn these skills and are acquainted with the many tools that technical writers use. Lynda, Online-learning, Techwriter-certification and CSU edu offer both free and paid-for resources, and in some cases certifications for technical writing as well, where you can learn without having to move from your seat.

Freelance Technical Writer Career

Freelance technical writing can seem like a lucrative job, where one gets to turn a hobby into a profession, come up with easier and more convenient styles of user manuals and listing technical specifications, and earn some money from the comfort of your couch. With experience, the ‘some’ money in question, rapidly evolves into handsome money.

More often than not, talent is not a determinant of success in any sphere. It is possibly truer for writers, with the freelance market insisting that talent combined with the relevant experience attracts generous prospective employers.

Hence, to be successful initially, you could:

  • Offer to do projects for minimum fees, sometimes for free
  • Bid the lowest for a project on freelancer portals
  • Get good testimonials for guest blogs, recommendations for work
  • Start a blog, back link it to more visible blogs
  • Create a website, or at the very least, a web page
  • Advertise your services on social media platforms
  • Understand the product or service intimately
  • Be able to simplify overly complex language

Average Remuneration

So how much do freelance technical writers earn?

Most of the revenue generated by technical writers as you depends solely on your ability to market your services and your credibility with previous employees.

Suppose you wish to get a pair of custom shoes stitched. Usually, you will prefer the experienced cobbler, to a new one whose only promise is to deliver a cheaper product.

The money in freelance technical writing is varied: Usually, freelance portals offer two generic kinds of payment models to freelancers. Fixed-price, where the price is usually pre-determined and a budget is sanctioned which you can bid for, and the hourly payment model where the employer decides on hourly pay.

A fixed-price model may range from $50-500 upwards, while you have to pitch for hourly projects, which usually range from $5-30 an hour, with average payments at $21 per hour.

Finding Work

Finding work in technical writing is not extremely hard, but it may require efforts on your part. Quite a lot of effort in fact, network with other writers and editors to build a responsive network. In the past decade, many portals exist where you can apply for jobs all over the world and offer proposals for international projects.

The most advisable course of action is to take the extra pain, go the extra mile, at the start of your career, at the least. It is important to remember that you are entering a market, as a freshman and thus, you must be willing to put extra efforts.

Websites like Odesk, Elance, Guru, Peopleperhour, and Freelancer offer many jobs to freelance technical writers globally.


There are many resources available for you to begin Freelance technical writing as a career. Some websites which offer study material online and host instructional videos include Lynda, Online-learning, Techwriter-certification and CSU edu, offering both free and paid-for resources and in some cases certifications for technical writing as well.

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