Technical Writing

After doing technical writing off-and-on throughout my writing career, I accepted a full-time technical writing contract in 2016. I worked with One Door from mid-2016 through mid-2018; working a year in their office in Boston, and continuing to work remotely for them for another year after moving to Vermont.

I really enjoyed the work; which entailed:

  • Researching documentation tooling and creating Online Help Portals based on the requirements of the Product team
  • Updating the ~2y/o and obsolete user manual that had been created in Microsoft Word, and transforming it into a series of topic-based Help Portal articles
  • Identifying different user personas, and creating individual Help Portals with content tailored to respective personas
  • Working with Engineering and Product to write API documents to support Professional Services, with a focus on documentation that both business users and technical users understand
  • Acting as a “detective” in understanding and documenting application functionality for internal users when questions arose (approximately 15% – 20% of my time was spent doing this on an ongoing basis)
  • Creating release notes and updating the online Help Portals for each new release cycle

After spending 80% of my time working on marketing writing over the years, the dive into technical writing was a nice change of pace that engaged my brain in different ways.

Kay and I were fortunate enough to be able to take some extended time off at the end of 2018 and into 2019, during which we worked on our ambulance-to-RV conversion, and the idea for Open Source Docs Press was born. I did some API documentation for an open source project; this was simple Markdown in Hugo. I also started learning Swift, for my TBA iOS app development project, and refreshed my Git skills.

When the time came to hunt jobs again, I knew I wanted to continue more geeky work (technical writing versus marketing writing), so I’ve accepted a handful of part-time contracts.

In one contract, I’ve reorganized and added a lot of task-based content to the client’s documentation portal – a legacy Gitbooks install. I made a case for migrating to Hugo, and after putting together a quick proof-of-concept, the client was convinced and I migrated the site. For this contract, I’ve spun up on Docker, in addition to the client’s product, and have added a lot of custom configurations to my command line to make my life easier. The audience for this documentation is developers.

In another ongoing contract, I’ve taken a marketing content writing role. This role has been evolving; I began working on case studies and editing technical content, but I’m now developing the content strategy for the upcoming year and working to create original content. We’re shifting the organization’s strategy to focus more on enterprise decision makers in service to reaching sales goals, while also adding analytics and SEO optimizations to better gauge reach and measure leads.

Another project last year involved working with the client’s SMEs to develop an eBook, a couple of white papers, some blog posts and articles, and a couple of case studies. This project was in support of a marketing campaign, but the content varied in technical complexity; some of it was more general, while some dived deeper into technical details.

I’m not sure what opportunities I’ll pursue after these contracts, but I suspect it will be more technical writing, as I’m really enjoying working with open source projects and communities, and leveraging my skills to create great, easy-to-consume documentation.