The term ‘sexy’ caught your eye, didn’t it? Well, isn’t that the point? Catching your eye. Everyone admires the pretty, the awesome and the brilliant…and sexy certainly fits in with those terms but technical writing and documentation rarely shows up in that string of words!
In doing research on what it takes to blog these days and starting a new freelancing business in the process, I came across a post called “We’re Bringing Unsexy Back to Entrepreneurship” from Entrepreneur’s site (which I haunt a lot). In the article, Andrew Yang compares “sexy,” meaning the appealing, exciting and attractive part of being an entrepreneur, with the “unsexy” side which includes hard work, long hours, driving an old car, and paying the light bill. In short, the side where you put in the time to garner the rewards. This side is seldom seen because the flashy car, the gorgeous partner, genius talent, meteoric growth, or jet-setting to the latest, hottest destination take up all the sparkle in the spotlight.
Deciding to freelance as a business writer would seem to be a crazy decision since this profession appears to be anything but awesome, brilliant or pretty. However, the book worm hiding in the library has been replaced by someone with an understanding of technology, the ability to manage documentation projects and still attend an evening of networking events without missing a beat (and I’d toss in a running race or two for good measure!).
Technical writing, or writing in general, does not come across as exciting. Most businesses view it as something they need done or it’s a task no one wants to deal with until it becomes critical. Contracts may require that technical manuals accompany the software or that specifications be included in any engineering processes. At that point, there is a mad scramble to find a documenter who can blow the dust off the ancient folders hidden in a back closet and pull all the technical documentation together using available software tools in a timely manner (tell me this imagery is not sexy!). When the writer enters the picture, creates a strategy to complete the project within the deadline, manages the content plan by working with the subject matter experts and delivers the documentation within specified timelines, well, THIS is when the freelancer is perceived as the most attractive writer doing the least attractive job and making it look good.
Sexy and flashy may show up most on Instagram or spawn a flurry of tweets but “unsexy” with a dash of knowing how to work with people, partner with local businesses, understand their needs and be available when they need you, that’s the kind of unsexy I want freelancing to be.