The end of 2018 marks my fifth full year as a freelance technical writer. There have been ups and downs, but I’ve grown to love it, probably because I’m now able to pay my bills. If I hadn’t been able to, I would’ve taken a straight full-time job by now. My idealism will only take me so far, but in the end, I’ve got to make a living. Fortunately, I’ve also been able to spend at least part of my time getting paid doing things I love, such as writing for companies dedicated to launching hardware into space. May your year have been as fortunate!
Mind you, it’s also been a challenging year personally and medically. On the personal side, if you’re someone who has hopes of finding a significant other and/or raising a family, I am the wrong person to offer you advice. I learned this year that I’m much better at working with customers than working with another person in my off time. So, again, if you want input on “work-life balance,” I guess I agree with my aerospace executive acquaintance, who called such balance “bulls—-.” I fell in love with working (age 10) long before I learned to fall in love with people, and I’m paying the price for that affection now. It doesn’t always make me feel great about myself as a person, but again, the bills are getting paid, so what do I know about prices?
Medically, I had another reminder that time is catching up with me, and now I have to cope with the slow, inevitable loss of my hearing. I’m fine now, but it’s something I’ll have to monitor in the future. And it’s another reminder that I’ll have to stay on my toes if I want to remain productive as I get older. As Kurt Vonnegut wrote in such circumstances, “So it goes.”
Despite the personal and medical hiccups, I managed to carve out time in 2018 to write the first full draft of a book based on this blog. I even managed to submit a proposal to an honest-to-goodness publisher, so we’ll see what 2019 will bring. Perhaps it will be more proposal efforts, perhaps I’ll get an opportunity to see my name in print.
My willingness and confidence to write a book has come in great part from increased attention by you, my readers. I managed to obtain eyeball attention a total of just over 23,000 times last year. This year, if all goes well, I’ll skate just past the 30,000 mark before the wall calendar flips over to 2019. Some of that might be my pushy marketing efforts, but I also owe a lot to those of you who shared links to Heroic Technical Writing on your own social media outlets, and I thank you.
Mind you, 30,000 views is probably about one hour or, at most, a day in the life of a Kardashian. Yet I’m not in that game. I’m in the business of sharing from-the-field insights about the life of a technical writer, which is very much a niche market. You could go elsewhere for your advice or inputs, but some of you come here. Again, thank you for the clicks, the views, and the likes. As the graph above demonstrates, that attention has been growing; on the average, about 40% per year since 2015. If that keeps happening, maybe Kim or Khloe might have something to worry about in 20 years.
Where To Go in 2019?
As long as I am able, I will keep the Heroic Tech Writing adventure going. I do not charge for this blog because I love what I do. I will continue to write about the ongoing realities of the technical writing professional, from an employee’s and freelancer’s point of view. The advice and insights on the blog will be free because I see no reason to change that now.
If you are a high school teacher or college/university professor and find this blog worth sharing with your students as a resource, thank you. If you would like me to address a specific topic related to your current coursework, email me at bart at heroictechwriting dot com; make a comment on this entry; or tweet/direct message me on Twitter. I’ll always take requests. I’ll also find room in my schedule for a limited number of “guest speaker” engagements–in person if you’re local to Central Florida, virtually if you’re elsewhere.
If you’re a student, young professional, or mid-career professional (i.e. around the same point in your career as me) and have questions or topics you’d like me to address, I’d be happy to share my thoughts. If you have a tough question, odds are, you’re not the only one.
That said, if I manage to turn a modified version of this blog into an actual book, I will do my best to get you to buy it. Lessons such as I’ve learned did not come cheaply to me, so it seems only fair that eventually I profit from my efforts. It would be a true delight to add a tab for “Buy My Book.” And if you buy the book and find me at an author’s signing, the autograph will be free! Until that time, you’ll get the benefit of my experience as it arises twice a week.
I hope 2019 will be professionally and personally rewarding for each and every one of you. Salud.