Part of the reason many of us become technical writers is because it offers high rates of pay compared to other writing jobs. Here are a few ideas for maximizing the financial rewards of your technical writing career.
- Be the expert. Ask yourself what struggles your organization will face in the near future and over the long term. Use some free time to build your expertise in those areas so that you can be a major contributor. By guiding your team through such struggles, you drastically increase your value.
- Consider a promotion. If your company offers upward mobility within your department, think carefully about whether you would want to take the job, and start preparing now. Write down a list of the skills and responsibilities such a promotion would require, and start proving your worthiness. If you aren't sure about the availability of promotion, or the responsibilities, ask your manager or HR staff. (Tread carefully though, so you aren't perceived as a threat to your superiors. Hopefully you aren't in such a dog-eat-dog environment, but it's worth mentioning.)
- If your current position offers no hope for upward mobility, consider looking for positions that do. If you don't seek, you won't find. Look for companies that offer upward mobility and are a good match for your skills.
- Further your education. While you don't want to be perceived as overqualified, statistics show that higher education correlates to higher income. Consider whether certification, an advanced degree, or a related degree such as computer science or engineering would increase your value; many online technical writing programs are available.
- Volunteer for challenging assignments. Some roles are simply more challenging than others, and may require greater responsibility and more overtime. However, the rewards usually follow suit.
- Consider freelancing. Building your own technical writing business can be difficult, but it can also be highly rewarding. In addition to working your own hours, you get the benefit of setting your own rates. Many freelancers start out doing side jobs in their free time until they build up a stable client base.
- Write a book. The publishing industry is always looking for authors who are experts in cutting-edge technology. Authors usually receive an advance as well as royalties from book sales. Publishing is a great way to increase your income and build your reputation at the same time, and establishing yourself as an expert can lead to future offers and profitability.
- Get involved in web publishing. Your ability to write content and deal with technical issues makes you a perfect candidate for running a blog or website. Such a site can help you build your reputation, land new contracts, and generate income from advertising, affiliate offers, or products that you create yourself.
- Leverage social media as a networking tool. Connect with others on LinkedIn, Twitter, and other sites and build your reputation by contributing regularly. Doing so will help you stay informed about interesting projects, lucrative opportunities, and open positions that may not be posted elsewhere. As they say, it's not what you know, it's who you know. (Actually, I'd say it's about 50 / 50; this industry seems especially appreciative of knowledge.)
Hopefully these tips are helpful in maximizing your technical writing income.