Translating Wisdom into a Career Path

As I’ve gotten older and have done more unusual things with my career, I’ve found more people asking me for advice. Not just students but peers, which is gratifying because the target audience for Heroic Technical Writing is quite a bit younger than me. However, there are people out there who have a specific set of skills, knowledge, and wisdom and manage to translate all three into a consulting practice. Today’s post is a meditation on turning your particular experience and wisdom into a business.

Business I’ve Actually Done

As it turns out, other people recognized my specific skill set before I did and started hiring me on that basis. Specifically, I had been a multi-function technical writer in a corporate environment. I was used to handling a wide variety of documents, often on a short timeline or with little information to start with. However, I knew how large organizations worked, I knew what questions to ask, and I had a pleasant enough demeanor that the people who hired me trusted me to get along well with whomever was required to get the work done.

As a result, most of the freelance work that keeps me fed has found me. Peers from previous jobs remember that I can write or do X, and they call me up to see if I’m available. That keeps me fed, and I’m most gratified that it happens.

Things I Do for Free That I Haven’t Figured Out How to Charge For Yet

The day-job stuff aside, there are things I’ve given free advice about in that have helped friends besides my usual proposals, engineering documents, or instructional design materials.

  • Book writing
  • Blogging
  • Freelancing as a lifestyle
  • Job hunting
  • Resume writing (I must confess, however, that this is one task I really dislike)
  • Networking
  • Career changing

I suppose I should consider the coaching life like my friend Kate the Coach. Or more general blogging/social media/entrepreneurial advice like Chef Katrina. That’d require a bit more schooling, and I’m keeping quite busy with the schedule I have. Still, it’s nice to know that my friends trust my wisdom-from-experience enough to seek my advice. At some point I might find ways to make money from that advice, but for now I prefer to be simply a helpful friend. If you’re shrewder or more assertive about such things and people are coming to you for specific advice, just remember that some folks are willing to pay consultants for it.

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About Bart Leahy

Freelance Technical Writer, Science Cheerleader Event & Membership Director, and an all-around nice guy. Here to help.
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