3 Reasons Technical Writers Should Switch To Social Media Writing

If you’re finding it difficult to get work in Technical Writing, then see if you can start a new career as a Social Media writer. The demand is definitely there. I found that it’s relatively easy to find contract work on Social Media sites if you’ve got good technical writing skills and know how to add value to these sites, for example, how to write detailed answers on Quora.com.

Social Media Policy templates are created in Microsoft Word (.doc)

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Social Media Policy Templates: Benefits

This template pack includes:

  • Social Media Policy Template (64 pages) Use this template to define your Goals, General Policies, Confidentiality, Disclosures, Legal Issues, Intellectual Property, Brand Guidelines and more.
  • Twitter Usage Policy – outline how employees may use Twitter to share, interact and communicate professionally.
  • Facebook Usage Policy – show staff how to be an Ambassador for your business on Facebook Fan pages.
  • LinkedIn Usage Policy – series of guidelines for using this professional network site and using LinkedIn groups
  • Company Blogging Policy – guidelines for employees writing on corporate blogs; how to respond to comments, queries, feedback, and press enquiries.
  • Personal Blogging Policy – use this to help employees understand their obligations when using personal blogs.
  • Social Media Risk Management Policy – guidelines to reduce risk for employees and managers using Social Media sites.
  • Brand Usage Policy – use this to ensure that your brand is used consistently across all social media network sites.
  • Code Of Conduct – extensive list of Do’s and Don’ts when using social media network sites.

Note: the Individual policy documents are based on material in the Master Policy document.

Why Switch From Technical Writing To Social Media Writing

Over the last eighteen months, freelance Technical Writing contracts have dried up as many companies look for ways to reduce costs and take writing tasks back indoors.

One way I’ve managed to pay the bills has been to work in Social Media, especially on LinkedIn and Quora, where my Technical Writing skills are a nice fit.

Learn how to write a social media policy

Social Media writing on Quora

How does this work? For example, a client asked me if I’d write a series of answers for their Quora account. They wanted in-depth ‘Wikipedia’ style entries that would reflect well on them and position them as the authority in this field. For most Technical Writes this would be relatively easy, especially if you’ve ever worked on knowledge bases or online help projects.

Actually, they gave me rough drafts they’d worked on and I revised the material to suit the questions on Quora. Knowing how to edit drafts, refine text, and write in the active voice all made a huge difference.

You could probably do the same and charge per word, per article, or write a series of articles, which is more lucrative… but that’s for another post.

Social Media writing in LinkedIn

Another Technical Writer I know runs a LinkedIn group. His role is to curate information he finds on the web, re-write it a little, and then share it with the group.

It’s a private LinkedIn group. It focuses on the Energy sector, which he has knowledge of from a previous role. His role is to source, distill, and share technical information and, where necessary, place it in context for the readers. Sound familiar? Not that hard for most Technical Writers out there.

Moving From Technical Writing To Social Media Writing

So, maybe you like the idea of making this switch but…. are not sure how to start. Let’s also look at the pros and cons.

  • Better Money – the rates (for now) as the same as standard Technical Writing daily rates. Obviously, this makes sense as it’s an emerging discipline and it’s hard to differentiate it from other styles of writing. One advantage for me is that I work on parallel projects over the web. This means I can have multiple clients at the same time rather than be tied to my 9-5 desk. The four hours I used to spend commuting are now spent working, i.e. making money.
  • More Opportunities – Social Media is still in its infancy. I believe that if you get in early, you can establish yourself as a Social Media writer very quickly. So far, most Technical Writers (well, most of those I know) are branching into other aspects of Technical Communications instead, such as Screencasting and Information Architecture but not looking into Social Media. At least not yet.
  • Natural Progression – while I’m very grateful for what Technical Writing has given me – my career has allowed me to work in the US, UK and Asia for fifteen years – moving into Social Media writing seems like the best way to capitalize on my writing skills and use these to position myself as a Social Media writer. While I’ve not made enough to retire to the Bahamas, it’s compensated for the Technical Writing contracts I used to rely on.

Conclusion

Both social media and technical documentation require a good understanding of how to write short, concise information. While Social Media may be ‘social’, most readers want ‘nuggets’ of information rather than the whole story. And, that’s a card most Technical Writers can play.

If you know how to distill a 500 word article into 100 words (or 140 characters), then you should look at starting a career as a Social Media writer. It’s not going away, you know!

What do you think?

About the Author: If you want to get more tips to boost your Technical Writing career, then visit I Heart Technical Writing

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