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John Kunney

My best advice to you is to first break into editing before you break into writing. This worked wonders for me when I first started out as a technical writer after I graduated from college with an English degree. Allow me to share my story.

I went to a nearby employment agency hoping that I would be able to find something. The recruiter took one look at my resume and noticed that I had majored in English and immediately knew exactly where to assign me. She arranged for me to work at a technical communications firm as a proofreader for instruction manuals written by technical writers in Warner Robins, Georgia. I worked there for a few months and was then laid off. After that I worked for several technical communication companies around that same area still working primarily as a proofreader.

The turning point came when I first moved to Atlanta Georgia. I had placed my newly updated resume online and suddenly I kept getting calls from various companies wanting to hire me as a technical writer. At first I turned them down because I was looking for a job as a proofreader. But then I received a call from an HR representative from General Dynamics who also made the same offer as a technical writer. But before I could politely decline her offer, she told me how much money they were willing to pay me. Trust me, it was the most money I had ever been offered in my life! So with great pride I told her that I was indeed a technical writer.

I was confused at first. Why were all these companies calling me, a proofreader, to do a technical writer s job? I was accustomed to working directly for the technical writers, not actually doing the technical writing. So I took some time out to perform research on what were the actual duties of tech writers. What I discovered was phenomenal. I found out that there was a direct correlation between what I did as a proofreader in relation to what I did for the technical writers. They were basically the same. In fact, it was my job to know everything that the technical writers knew. It was after having exposure to technical communications (even if I did work as a proofreader) that I discovered I was a genuine technical writer and I didn t even know it! It was after this revelation that I revised my resume and posted it again on-line after which the phone calls requesting my services had once again resumed.

Editing will give you an opportunity to learn the writing styles of other journalist that will quickly rub off on you they way it did with me in technical writing. I mean think about it. If you had a choice between picking someone to play football who would you choose? A guy who has never even heard of the sport or a guy who has never played football but knows how to referee the game?

Also proofreading is a great way to get your foot in the door. I know you're anxious to start you career as a freelancer, but I would highly recommend that you work full-time first to further your learning. Don't look at companies as the place where you work, look at them as other colleges or universities of experience. Once you truly believe you have mastered your skills then by all means start your freelancing. This is how I began.

Answered 4 years ago

John Kunney