How to Become a Freelance Technical Writer: 4 Steps

Freelance Technical writer

Did you know that in May 2023, the median annual wage of freelance technical writers was $80,050, with the highest 10% earning more than $129,440? The top industries in which freelance technical writers worked were administrative and support services, publishing, scientific, professional, and technical services, and the manufacturing industry.

In fact, as per the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of technical writers is projected to grow at 7% from 2022 to 2032, which is faster than all the other occupations. This highlights the widespread demand by businesses for freelance technical writers who can make complicated ideas easy to understand for customers and stakeholders.

It also highlights the lucrative career of freelance technical writing, which comes with competitive pay, the flexibility to set your own hours, the convenience and luxury of remote work, and the opportunity to select projects aligned with your passions.

As a freelance technical writer, you will be able to develop your skills and expertise constantly through your work. With strong technical writing skills at your disposal, you will be able to establish yourself as a highly sought-after freelance technical writer.

To assist you in unlocking your potential and be your complete guide on how to be a technical writer, the topics covered in this article are:   

Step 1: Understanding the Skills Required

Becoming a successful freelance technical writer requires a blend of technical writing skills, communication skills, business skills, and self-management skills. Let’s delve deeper into each of these vital components:

1. Technical Expertise

To succeed as a freelance technical writer, you need:

  • Expertise in your chosen field or domain to ensure clarity for your audience
  • Stay updated with current trends
  • Continuously upgrade your skills by reading and taking courses
  • Explore each subject in depth
  • Manage large volumes of information effectively

2. Writing Skills

A freelance technical writer must possess adept technical writing skills to effectively convey complex technical details in a clear, concise, and user-friendly manner to diverse audiences.

The key best practices to consistently deliver high-quality content and distinguish yourself from competitors include: 

  • Conduct thorough research and make an outline
  • Write from the perspective of your target audience
  • Maintain a consistent logical sequence in your content
  • Ensure that the content is authentic
  • Implement on-page SEO optimization techniques
  • Use an on-page SEO checker to enhance visibility and SERP rankings
  • Trim excess words from your writing
  • Use grammatical tools
  • Edit and proofread thoroughly

3. Communication Skills

Considering that face-to-face communication with clients might not be possible, it is important that as a freelance technical writer, you have strong, clear, and effective communication skills, even over emails. This will help:

  • Manage client expectations
  • Cultivate robust client relationships
  • Effectively engage with project stakeholders, including designers and technical staff
  • Gather accurate information and enhance collaboration for the project
  • Efficiently conduct user research to foster a better understanding
  • Improve job prospects

4. Organization and Time Management Skills

To succeed as a freelance technical writer and demonstrate reliability and professionalism, you must have strong self-discipline and self-management skills. These will help you balance multiple projects while adhering to their deadlines.

Tips to improve these skills are:

  • Prioritize tasks according to urgency, deadlines, and customers
  • Use frameworks like the Eisenhower Matrix or MoSCoW method to prioritize tasks effectively
  • Set SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely) goals for each task to maintain focus and clarity
  • Establish a solid workflow for completing tasks efficiently
  • Break big projects into small chunks to enhance focus and productivity while allowing time for thorough research and writing
  • To effectively manage your schedule, estimate time for each task
  • Minimize disruptions by setting designated work hours and workspace boundaries
  • To recharge and maintain your productivity, incorporate designated break times into your schedules
  • During breaks, engage in activities like short walks, listening to music, drawing, or meditation
  • Use planning tools like Content Calendar Generator, Google Calendar, Notion, or a manual planner

5. Business Skills

To have a thriving career as a freelance technical writer, master basic business skills, including:

  • Set up professional invoicing procedures with company information on top for prompt payments and enhanced credibility
  • Meticulously track finances using automated software or spreadsheets for financial stability and informed decisions
  • Maintain accurate and organized records through accounting software or spreadsheets for streamlined tax preparation and long-term savings
  • Master contract negotiation by researching the client, defining solutions, leveraging past successes, fostering open communication, and being willing to walk away if necessary

Step 2: Building a Solid Portfolio

One of the most essential steps in becoming a freelance technical writer is creating an engaging and visually appealing freelance technical writing portfolio that professionally showcases your diverse skills.

The 5 key steps to building a winning freelance technical writing portfolio are:

1. Incorporate Existing Content

To highlight versatility through your technical writing samples, include:

  •  Relevant content like blog posts and academic papers
  • For instance,  if your expertise lies in SEO optimization, include an article about on-page SEO elements like keyword research

2. Create Targeted Samples

To demonstrate your expertise,

  • Create samples targeting your desired niche
  • Samples can be in the form of white papers, user manuals, or in-demand content types like technical guides and manuals, business plans, case studies, and corporate reports

3. Showcase Diverse Skills

To represent yourself as an adaptable technical writer, include the following:

4. Refine and Polish

To leave a lasting impression, ensure that your portfolio is:

  • Free of any grammatical or typographical errors
  • Visually appealing by using professional design elements, layouts, and formatting
  • Well-organized and arranged logically, with clear sections and easy navigation for the viewer

5. Seek Feedback

Here’s what you can do to improve your portfolio quality and increase your chances of attracting potential customers:

  • Get feedback from industry top performers, colleagues, and experts
  • Implement their portfolio tips and strategies

6. Acquire Relevant Experience

To excel as a freelance technical writer, you must gain relevant experience in the field. This can be achieved through:

  • Collaborations with industry professionals
  • Submitting guest posts on prominent industry websites
  • Getting hired as a technical writer

7. Establish Your Brand and Online Presence

This is a requirement for freelance technical writers to get more projects and engage with potential clients. Thus, you need to:

  • Regularly post your work on social platforms like LinkedIn
  • Set up a website reflecting your work, client testimonials, and yourself

Step 3: Nailing Your Pitch

After you have built your portfolio, the next step is to nail your pitch. The 6 essential tips that a freelance technical writer must incorporate to win over clients while pitching for projects are:

1. Thoroughly Research Clients

To succeed as a freelance technical writer, you must craft an effective freelance technical writing pitch by understanding the client’s needs, motivations, and challenges. To ensure this, thoroughly research the client and project by:

  • Exploring their website
  • Going through their support pages and YouTube tutorials
  • Reading their blog articles
  • Analyzing relevant news articles
  • Conduct a meeting to gather insights through targeted questioning 

2. Highlight Client Value Proposition

In the pitch, a freelance technical writer must showcase your skills and experience in a manner that convinces the client that you will be able to address all their needs. The most effective way of doing this is by:

  • Identify and address client pain points like if your customers are getting confused by your how-to-guides, leading to increased support requests; show an example that highlights your clear, concise, detail-oriented, and easy-to-understand style of writing
  • Showcase how your services solve their specific challenges by using your similar past project and its success as an example
  • Highlight the unique benefits and advantages of working with you through past client testimonials

3. Quantify Your Impact

Highlight the returns that your client will receive in exchange for their investment. To do so, use:

  • Customer feedback and testimonials from past projects
  • Quantitative indicators like profitability, net revenue, increase in sales, and decrease in support tickets from your past projects and successes

4. Develop a Clear and Concise Pitch

To effectively communicate your message, capture your client’s attention, and increase your chances of getting the project, you need to develop a clear and concise pitch that is:

  • Easy to understand by all clients
  • Reflects an understanding of the client’s needs and presents a personalized and practical solution
  • Accurately demonstrates why you are the right choice for the project
  • Free from jargon, delivering information directly

5. Confidently Deliver Your Pitch

Before delivering, a freelance technical writer when pitching to clients, you must refine it so that you can confidently deliver it across all mediums. 

  • In a presentation, use empathy to connect with your clients. Keep them hooked on your pitch through storytelling that highlights how your expertise will solve their problem or improve their situation.
  • Use concrete examples and visual props to make your presentation memorable. Also, prepare for probable questions and answers and practice in front of a mirror to improve your body language, tone, and pace.
  • In an email, avoid using tentative language and filler words. Keep your language simple and to the point while sounding confident and not arrogant. 

6. Set Accurate Rates

No matter how good your pitch was, it would not matter if you are unable to charge appropriately for your expertise and skills. Tips that you must follow to set accurate rates as a freelance technical writer are:

  • Estimate the time it will take you to complete a task
  • Consider your experience level
  • Check current market rates from other freelancing sites like Upwork and Fiverr
  • Determine your rates based on whether the work is one-off or ongoing. Charges for one-off work are usually higher than for ongoing work, as you will have to spend more time looking for new projects and clients. 
  • Adjust rates based on client involvement. Usually, charges are more for small or new businesses as they will require more guidance than for large organizations. 
  • Factor in the task complexity and the research required
  • Account for deadlines and potential rush fees
  • Set up your hourly freelancing rates such that it is higher than your full-time, salaried pay. The rule of thumb is to double or triple your full-time hourly wage to arrive at your freelancing rate to cover your operating expenses, taxes, and other business costs. Websites like Payscale will help you find technical writer salaries.

Step 4: Delivering High-Quality Work

To ensure successful project delivery that upholds the freelance technical writing quality, you must follow these strategies: 

1. Consistently Meet Deadlines and Budgets

To build your reputation as a reliable freelance technical writer and drive more clients and projects toward you, you need to meet deadlines and budgets consistently. 

Tips that you must follow to ensure this are:

  • Refrain from overcommitting to avoid delays
  • Keep a buffer between each deadline for unforeseen circumstances
  • Conduct an in-depth research and create a content outline to follow diligently
  • Proactively communicate with clients regarding project timelines and potential delays
  • Regularly track time and expenses to stay within the budget

2. Ensure Effective Client Communication

To ensure the satisfaction of your clients, you must:

  • Maintain open and effective communication with your clients
  • Actively seek their feedback
  • Promptly address their concerns

3. Conduct Thorough Research and Fact-Checking

To build your reputation as a freelance technical writer, you must:

  • Stay updated with industry developments
  • Fact-check your work using Google’s fact-check tools
  • Validate the legitimacy of your main source by assessing author credibility, publication date, citations, and publishing platform credibility
  • Seek input from subject matter experts to verify the accuracy
  • Support your main sources with supporting articles for additional validation

4. Adhere to Style Guides and Client Requirements

To portray yourself as a credible freelance technical writer, you must always:

  • Adhere to the standard guidelines and format required by the client
  • Use your expertise to choose the best course of action during conflicts between style guides and client specification
  • Correct any errors or inconsistencies

5. Prioritize Proofreading and Editing

Clients always appreciate polished work, which results in more projects and referrals. Thus, you must read it meticulously and make the necessary changes to ensure that your work is:

  • Free from grammatical and structural errors
  • Accurate and factually correct
  • Follows all the formatting guidelines
  • Easily understandable for the target audience
  • Consistent in tone and style throughout

How to Become a Freelance Technical Writer?

Skills RequiredAdept writing and editing skills, clear communication skills, strong organizational and time management skills, and basic business skills are essential for a freelance technical writer to succeed. 
Build a Solid PortfolioA solid portfolio is versatile and has samples focused on your desired niche of industry and content format.
Nail your Pitch and Get ProjectsThe key to this lies in understanding the client’s and project’s requirements, designing a pitch that fulfills them, and confidently delivering it.
Deliver High-Quality WorkTo ensure this, follow the client’s requirements and formatting guides, proofread your work, ensure accuracy, and adhere to deadlines. 


Becoming a freelance technical writer requires continuous skill development, expertise in the desired technical field, and a passion for working hard and doing better.

Such an approach will make your clients happy and satisfied, bringing you more work and success. The bonus for you is a career in which you are free as a bird, with your livelihood sorted in the best ways. 

If you are in search of a stable career that offers you competitive pay, aligns your skills with the tasks, gives you the autonomy of choosing your projects, and helps you improve and develop your skillset, then join us to begin your career as a freelance technical writer with Wittypen.                                                                            

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