Government Sequestration: How It Benefits Freelance Technical Writers
In recent months the US government has begun to make a series of budgetary cuts. For many government employees these cuts have meant an unpaid day off—or worse, the dreaded pink slip. Much of the news coverage to-date has been from the point of view of government workers; however, there have been few articles about the reactions of government IT Contractors, i.e. the businesses who rely on government spending to pay their own employees. Unfortunately for many IT Contractors, the only way to stay afloat in a financial crisis has been to cut jobs. While this is an unfortunate circumstance for many people, the situation does offer an advantage to freelance content writers.
Freelance content writers are in the unique position to offer their literary prowess to IT contractors. How is this feasible? IT contractors rely on competent writers to pitch their complicated budget, IT solution, and general qualifications to the government in a form of a written proposal. These proposals rely on well-written prose that must be easily understood by a government employee who a) usually doesn’t have a working understanding of the IT involved, and b) doesn’t have time to thoroughly read the proposal (particularly when they can be upwards of 100 pages).
A freelance content writer is able to understand the content and write an award-winning proposal at a lowered associated cost. If an IT contractor can outsource the work needed to write a proposal at a lowered cost, then they are likely to hire a freelance content writer. The latter workforce is paid on a per project basis, so they don’t require the 401k, health benefits, or other costs that are accrued when keeping a writer on as a full-time employee. The beauty of this win-win situation is that the IT contractor receives a quality piece and the freelance content writer is rewarded with an average assignment of 10,000 words—and, as many of us writers know, that is a very good pay day.
If you are a freelance content writer who is thinking of writing for IT contractors, there are a few things to keep in mind.
1) Research is critical: Half of the literary proposal process is research. If you are good at quickly finding answers to difficult questions, understanding complicated technical processes, and relaying information in a cohesive fashion to non-industry experts, then this is the perfect type of research project for you.
2) Read white papers: A white paper is a great example of the style of writing needed to successfully compose an IT government proposal. If after reading white papers you are bored or find yourself utterly confused, then stay away from trying to write IT proposals. An employee can tell when you are bored with your writing; and bored writing doesn’t convince the government to spend millions on a contract.
3) Graphics are important: A unique way to separate one proposal from another is through graphics. As previously mentioned, proposals tend to be scanned. As such, it can fall within the writer’s job to come up with compelling graphics. If you are a creative thinker with a knack for design, then writing IT proposals is a great way to expand your literary and graphic skills.
4) Must love acronyms: Don’t ask me why, but IT contractors love their acronyms. Learning to comfortably write with a multitude of acronyms is a must-have skill.
The government may be making budgetary cuts, but there are still contracts that need to be renewed and new opportunities waiting for the ambitious IT contractor. For freelance content writers there is a new age of content waiting to be written, so pull out your computer, start reading white papers, and dive into the waiting world of writing IT proposals.
Laura P is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments.