May 31 2008

Need text? Hire a Writer

Published by at 9:29 am under Business   

To help create the document I mentioned earlier about the merits of custom software development, I hired a subcontract writer. The only typing I did was a bit at the start and perhaps a half-hour of editing at the end; all the rest of my input was in the form of spoken-word audio recordings, which I find fast and easy to create.

A critical factor in making this worthwhile is the categorical difference between a writer and a transcriber; I’ve used transcription services with excellent results, but a transcribed talk is far different in form and polish, than purposefully written text. The process was roughly like so:

  • I posted an ad on Craiglist to find a technical writer
  • I wrote short notes/outline of the topic
  • I recorded an audio ramble of my ideas for the content
  • Writer sent me draft #1, organizing my ramble in to a coherent form
  • I recorded audio feedback
  • Writer sent me draft #2
  • I recorded audio feedback
  • Writer sent me draft #3
  • I made a bunch of edits, and posted it

This worked out well, in several ways. The first, minor payoff is that it took a bit less time than just writing it myself. In retrospect it was only a minor time savings; if I had just sat down and wrote it all myself in one go, I could have finished in a handful of hours.

The second payoff was much larger: although I could have theoretically done it all myself, most likely I would not have done so yet. My personal threshold to get started and keep the process moving was much lower. Engaging assistance transformed an idea for what could happen, in to a process that did happen.

The third payoff is that this process is another useful tool in my toolbox; there is a big difference between know that I could use such a tool, and having actually done so.

Thus, I consider the experiment a success, and will almost certainly use the same process on more projects.

If you found this post useful, please link to it from your web site, mention it online, or mention it to a colleague.

4 responses so far

4 Responses to “Need text? Hire a Writer”

  1. Alex Miller says:

    Interesting!

    By the way, there’s a typo in the first sentence of the pdf. Maybe should hire a proof-reader too. :)

  2. ben says:

    how much did it cost?

  3. Nico says:

    Next step: someone in “teh internets” reads it and find a typo: “Occasionally, custom can (be) less…”. I like the document, clear and to the point.

  4. Kyle Cordes says:

    Thanks for the typo tips. Those no doubt appeared in my “final bunch of edits”. I’ve fixed a few of them, and will fix the rest.