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How to find technical writing work using Quora

Are you using Quora to find technical writing work?

Maybe you’ve never heard of Quora.

Here’s how it works.

Think of it as a deluxe ‘Question and Answer’ site focused on the business community.

A lot of influential people are there. It has almost no spam or nasty comments.

If you want to develop your business, Quora is an effective way to demonstrate your expertise and generate leads.

Like the X-Factor, it uses a voting system. The better your answer, the more votes it gets, the higher it ranks, the more links you get, and the more…

Tip – You can link out to other articles, which is what I often (though not always) do.

Here’s my answer to: How can I become a better writer.

On your Quora groups

Let’s look at how to establish yourself (your personal brand) on Quora

Join 10 groups. Make sure they complement your business goals.

Avoid distractions. More than 10 and you lose focus.

Ignore groups with low engagement.

Aim to be a top contributor on your Quora group. To do this, write the longest article you can. Twice as long as others in the group. Even if your article isn’t great, people tend to upvote long posts. I think they appreciate the effort. It looks epic!

Study discussions that have the most comments. See what makes the top post stand out. Make notes.

Write a Quora post about this. Write a Quora post that deliberately takes the opposite point of view. The contrarian angle often works as it evokes a response in others and they feel compelled to respond.

Where possible, include others by recommending their sites, books, or other works. Connecting with others (especially those who have a larger network) raises your profile and gets you on their radar.

When answering questions:

  1. Be selective. Answer one question a night.
  2. Provide more detail than anyone else.
  3. Use the inverted pyramid style when writing.
  4. Use lots of white space, short sentences, and bullet lists. Write to be scanned.
  5. Link to sites you recommend but not affiliates.
  6. Format and style your answer to stand out. Don’t just copy and paste from MS Word.
  7. Add images, slides, and videos.
  8. Aim to write the standout article.

On your Quora profile page

Use a nice, professional headshot.

Write the bio in a conversational style. Talk about how you’ve helped others in the past and look forward to helping others. Be open. Encourage the reader to learn more about you.

Don’t link to your blog homepage.

Instead, link to your About page. That’s where they can learn more about you. Include an email subscription form on your About page in two places, in the side bar and at the end of the page.

On your Quora blog page

You can create your own blog page on Quora. One of mine is at klariti.quora.com

Use this to repurpose content from your blog. I usually sprinkle in a few hundred new words to tailor it to the Quora readers.

Write original content related to the questions you’re answering.

Write ‘original’ content using the material from the question you answered. Avoid copy and pasting. Instead, write a short intro paragraph to put it in context, then a summary to wrap it up.

  • Write frequently. This helps develop your voice.
  • Watch this video on how to create a writing framework.
  • Find an interesting angle.
  • Write 10 x 250 word articles.
  • Don’t write about fads, Apple, Seth Godin… the usual.
  • Focus on potential customers: how can you help them save and make money.
  • Connect it to what you do as a technical writer.

Your Quora to do list

  • Study Quora.
  • Get the app.
  • Observe how others use it.
  • Scan posts during the day. Get a feel for what works.
  • Your aim is to build credibility.
  • Write exceptional answers that make you stand out.

Summary

Before you start. Have your LinkedIn profile, blog, and business web site ready.

When they arrive, offer them ebooks, reports, or checklists. Don’t let them leave empty handed.

If you can persuade them to join your email newsletter, even better.

More next week.

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Are Daily Rates for Technical Writers Starting To Improve?

In December, I looked at the daily rates for technical writers and others in the tech comms industry. At the time daily rates for technical writers are down to $30 per hour in some places in the Bay Area.

However, maybe things are starting to turn around. In Ireland (Euro HQ for most US IT companies) Google has announced 150 new jobs, many in technical roles.  So, is the tide starting to turn?

Articles in Tech Comms publications and on other technical writing sites suggested  that daily rates for technical writers were collapsing in the US, in particular the West coast, as more writers struggle to find roles that match their previous salaries. TECHWR-L (tech-whirl), the oldest site that I know for technical writers, highlighted the case of a technical writer who’s been in the industry for 10 years and been jog-hunting for six months.

When asked what he thought where the tech docs industry was heading, his reply was, “it’s a race to the bottom”. 12 months ago, he left a high-paying tech writing job to travel but returned six months later, and looked for work.

Daily Rates for Technical Writing in California

His only job offer had been $30 an hour. Some recruitment sites quoted $40-$60 an hour. Quite a drop!

I know that when I last worked in the states, late 90s, the rates were $40-$60 per hour, and that’s almost 10 years ago.  It’s hard to believe that now, ten years later, and factoring in inflation etc, daily rates are almost cut in half.

Salary for Technical Writing in China

Salary for technical writers in China is between 15-30k RMB per month, which is approx $2.5k.

Not great by US standards but the cost of living here is much less.

Daily Rates for Technical Writing in India

According to a tech writer in Bangalore, the going rate in India is $10-15 an hour. http://www.techwr-l.com/node/1205

Jobs Trends

Many US colleagues have seen their jobs moved to India. In Europe (Ireland and UK) they tend to go to Poland as they have excellent English skills (yes, they do!) and lower tax rates.

India now produces a steady stream of qualified tech writers who are highly motivated and keen to make the most of this opportunity.

Last year I said that,  “as someone who works in Asia, and is seeing at first hand the juggernaut that is hurdling down the motorway, the race to outsource has only started.”

In the next 10-15 years, IT jobs which can be replicated offshore/offsite to lower costs will be embraced more aggressively. US companies have little choice but to do this.

The challenge for technical writers

The question for technical writers and others in this industry is how to approach this.  One suggestion would be to setup consultancy services in places like Bangalore, Vietnam, and Poland where the talent is there but the experience is lacking. Experienced technical writers, who are willing to travel and embrace a new challenge, could do very well in these countries. Staying at home may not be an option.

What do you think?

Should technical writers consider moving to places like India? Do you see signs that the recession is over. Are there more jobs for tech writers than last year?
Fire away below and share what you think.

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What’s the Highest Daily Rate You Can Get as a Technical Writer?

Singing DinosaursKnowledge is power. Knowing the daily rates of others in your industry helps you negotiate fees and get a better deal.

I’ve worked in the US, UK and now here in Asia and have seen a vast difference in the rates that writers work for.

Some of my friends in India work for $15 per hour, which works for them, while I know others in the Bay Area that are down to $25 per hour. Quite a drop as they were on $60 only 12 months back. Continue reading What’s the Highest Daily Rate You Can Get as a Technical Writer?

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Are Daily Rates for Technical Writers Collapsing?

Daily rates for technical writers are down to $30 per hour in some places in the Bay Area. Recent articles on other technical writing sites suggests that daily rates for technical writers is collapsing in the US, in particular the west coast, as more writers struggle to find roles that match their previous salaries. Continue reading Are Daily Rates for Technical Writers Collapsing?