10 Things You Should Have Before Starting a New Contract Techwriting Project

Before starting a new project as a contract technical writer, be prepared for success. Here are 10 things you (and your customer) can benefit from having up front:

  1. Signed contractor agreement – This is absolutely necessary to ensure you get paid and the rules for both sides are clearly stated.
  2. Project purpose and objectives – What are the objectives? You need to know the end goal.
  3. Target audience – Who will you be writing for? Experienced IT administrators, employees, or customers?
  4. Content type – Is it a guide (with how-to procedures), a datasheet (overview) or whitepaper (use case and concepts)?
  5. Owner of this document – Who do you have to please?
  6. Subject matter experts and other resources – Know the SMEs you can contact and the other resources you can use (related documents, access to product for research, etc.)
  7. Format and outline – Is there a template or marketing guidelines you need to follow? What is the basic structure for the project?
  8. Project workflow – Agree on the process and the schedule you need to follow to include draft, reviews, and delivery.
  9. Change management process – Define how changes will be requested and how changes will affect your work, such as price (if fix priced) and schedule (deadine).
  10. Acceptance requirements – Agree on the acceptance criteria: your deliverables and the customer’s sign off.

About jleer

Jonathan Leer is writer/owner of Leer Technical Communications, LLC, a technical/business writing consultancy that strives to add value to content creation and delivery. He and his fellow writers and editors provide their services to companies in the high-tech, financial, healthcare, and manufacturing industries. Many of these projects have required working with stakeholders in compliance, product development and testing, professional services, customer support, marketing, sales, finance, and training. Content has been targeted to customers, and partners, as well as developers and other internal personnel, and published for wiki, web, and print delivery. Contact Jon for questions or requests for assistance with your next content project.
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