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Thursday, September 8, 2011

Guest Post: Free Online Classes to help Freelance Tech Writers become Effective Bosses and Business Owners

While some technical writers are employed by large corporations, some on the other hand choose to freelance and start their own tech writing businesses. Going the entrepreneurial route is more or less ideal for those who like to make their own working hours and for those who wish to create a versatile portfolio by working for a variety of clients and projects. Unfortunately however, most technical writing degree programs don't adequately teach students how to be their own bosses or how to even oversee a team of subordinates.
While formal education in business applications can in fact teach students how to tackle the complications that arise with establishing a start-up business, this option is expensive and time consuming. Thankfully there are free online classes provide by distinguished brick-and-mortar institutions that can provide freelance tech writers with the knowledge they seek to become effective leaders when owning and operating their own business. While these classes are in fact free and typically include free old class materials such as course readings, syllabi and lecture notes and slides, note that some may require the purchase of specific textbooks or software. With that said, to learn the best classes that can help you become a more effective leader in the tech writing industry, continue reading below.
Finance and Accounting Online Classes. Because most tech entrepreneurs are strapped for cash and struggle coming up with enough capital for operating costs of their small business, all too often tech freelancers cannot afford to pay a professional to take care of the bookkeeping and other finances. So they opt to do it themselves. But handling your own finances is extremely risky, especially if you do not know anything about cash flows, how to acquire monetary income, or how to meet budgets—you don't want to over spend (or skimp) on buying necessary equipment such as authoring and editing software, style guide books, reference manuals, insurance, or proper licenses. In fact, any small mistake can result in your business quickly plummeting to the ground. So to make sure that your business doesn't fail due to your lack of knowledge in finance or accounting, check out a few of these classes that can teach you how to properly evaluate your blooming business' financial needs:
Content Management and Software Documentation Online Courses. In this new day and age most freelance teach writers are required to do far more than just write—they have to be editors, content modelers and even graphic designer at some moments. With that said freelancers who deal with a high volume of clientele needs to diligently work to stay organized and keep proper documentation of all of their various works—no telling when you may be able to reuse particular information. An easy way to do this is to use programs such as XML and SGML. These programs will not only keep all of the content consistent throughout your business, but will also aid in easy retrieval of those important documents from databases.
Business Negotiations Online Courses. Typically a freelance tech writer is given the option to bid on projects individually or delve into a long-term contract with a publisher. Either way, freelance tech writers need to know how to market their business to find clients as well as how to make contract negotiations once they find a client. Not only will these classes do just that, but they will also teach students how to make deadlines, create a project plan, stay within budgets, and ensure client satisfaction.
Leadership Online Classes. Lastly, if you work individually and do not have subordinates or business partners, the following classes may not necessarily pertain to you. However if you choose to hire help, these classes will teach you how to listen to your employees' complaints (happy employees equal a happy workplace environment) and how and why it's important to take the lead during writer's meetings etc.

This guest contribution was submitted by Lenore Holditch, who specializes in writing about top online colleges. Questions and comments can be sent to: holditch.lenore @