Another spin-off: where to find writing jobs that are NOT IT related?

Subject: Another spin-off: where to find writing jobs that are NOT IT related?
From: Geoff Hart <ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 09 Jun 2005 08:53:38 -0400

Mitchell Maltenfort wondered: <<I'm a Ph. D. in Biomedical Enginering... Long story short, I realized I'm not happy as a researcher among researchers. I like research, I think there are some cool projects going on in my field, but among other things I'd rather write for the bright generalist or layperson than for the specialist.>>

I can dig it. I bailed on a research career and took up the life of the technical editor and translator. Haven't regretted it for a second.

<<While being a technical writer superficially seems a natural segue, most of the jobs are by, of and for the IT industry.>>

That's certainly the popular perception (given the importance of the computer industry), but it's a misperception. There are tons of non-IT jobs out there--probably far more in total than there are in IT. For example, I believe it was the June 2005 issue of STC's Intercom magazine that contained some good stuff on working in the financial sector. My own article on "Finding work in tough times" will hopefully be appearing there in a few months, and I've got an article on "finding work in scientific communication" that I hope to publish on the techwr-l site in a few months. Keep your eyes on the announcements.

<<I have background to offer and I don't want to throw it away.>>

In your case, there are many obvious places to look for work: Any company that produces medical hardware, from human orthotics and prosthetics to MRI machines, needs documentation, whether for end-users or internal clients (developers, marketers, tech. support, etc.). Any university doing research in your area may need writers and editors, particularly if they regularly produce grant proposals to obtain research funding. And so on... those are just the obvious ones.

Have you thought about writing popular science for the usual suspects (Scientific American, Discover, Popular Science, etc.)? For newspapers and other magazines? Special-interest magazines for people with unique needs related to your field (e.g., articles on prosthetics and supportive devices for seniors)? There's good money to be made here too, particularly if you still enjoy your field enough to keep up with the latest research.

<<Giving it some thought, I came up with a list of niches but realized I wasn't sure how to go networking for them>>

Here's the biggie: Find potential employers, and make your pitch based on solving _their problems_. I got a ton of journal editing work by saying something really simple: "You get a lot of great science from ESL authors, but you can't read their English to decide whether the science is any good. You have no budget to hire an editor, and your in-house copyeditors are swamped. Give these authors my brochure, with no endorsement on your part, and I'll guarantee (at no expense to you... the author pays the whole shot) a manuscript so well written you'll only have to pay attention to the science."

See how it works? Understand the real and vexing problem the client has, and tell them how you're going to solve it. That's how you get hired.

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Geoff Hart ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca
(try geoffhart -at- mac -dot- com if you don't get a reply)
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Another spin-off: where to find writing jobs that are NOT IT related: From: Mitchell Maltenfort

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