Writing Instruction Manuals

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Writing Instruction Manuals

Postby Write2Live » Wed Oct 30, 2019 6:08 pm

WISH = Writing Instruction manuals
There are instruction manuals that come with some products that are poorly written, to the point of being useless. Nowadays, some products come with no instructions whatsoever. Or maybe they were written by a person from the country of origin, who translated it into English. I would like to take those poorly translated manuals and put them into easy-to-understand (American) language so that even the most unsophisticated person can use that product, or assemble it or whatever, by following my easy-to-understand manual.

I can write instruction manuals for new products also. People or companies would send me one of their products with maybe (hopefully) some basic instructions, and I would learn how to assemble or work/use the product/machine/etc. and I would write up the manual. I can even draw pictures to help illustrate the product’s use/assembly or whatever.

I’ve thought about this many times over the years, and would love to do it, but – OBSTACLE – I’ve never known how to get started – how do I find companies that need my services, how do I advertise, where do I go from here?

Thank you for your help. Alice
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Re: Writing Instruction Manuals

Postby SquarePeg » Wed Oct 30, 2019 6:30 pm

The job title you'll want to look for is Technical Writer.

Nowaways, manuals for consumer electronics are very sparse. I think this is because the profit margin is so slim so the budget is low. As well, the manual needs to be developed and printed while the product is being manufactured and the software still under development. The manual might be based on features of an obsolete firmware.

Medical products might be better field to write for since they undergo a great deal more testing before release to market. So there's more time to create a manual.

BTW, one of the 10 best manuals I've ever seen came with my Cologuard test kit.

Good luck!
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Re: Writing Instruction Manuals

Postby Elaine Glimme » Fri Nov 01, 2019 11:56 am

Yes! Cell phones! Computers!

If I need to know how to use some weird feature on any of these, I ask my step-son or my son in law. Our library offers help with computers, I just learned. I haven't used this help yet, but i plan to.

I never thought of the problem as being poorly written manuals, but it makes so much sense.
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Re: Writing Instruction Manuals

Postby inspiresuccess » Fri Nov 01, 2019 12:03 pm

SquarePeg wrote: Nowaways, manuals for consumer electronics are very sparse. I think this is because the profit margin is so slim so the budget is low. As well, the manual needs to be developed and printed while the product is being manufactured and the software still under development. The manual might be based on features of an obsolete firmware.

Medical products might be better field to write for since they undergo a great deal more testing before release to market. So there's more time to create a manual.


I think SquarePeg's response is very accurate. We all wish we had you to write the manuals for us. I have gadgets that I've bought that are in the closet because all they came with is a simple diagram -- no words. Unlike Elaine, I don't have a family member to ask.

I think that SquarePeg's mention of the medical products is a good idea.

I'm wondering if there is some way to modify/change/expand on your wish. You wish to make things clear for people. I'm wondering if there are other ways that you could do that besides writing. Or.... if it's the writing part of it that's most important, what other types of writing would be "technical writing"? Maybe now that you have that term -- technical writer --- you could google it and see if it gives you some more ideas.
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Re: Writing Instruction Manuals

Postby SquarePeg » Fri Nov 01, 2019 1:20 pm

As I read the response from IS, it occurred to me that you could write for the Dummy's Guide or Idiot's Guide series. There are a few "Unofficial Guide to xxxx" or "The Unwritten YYYY Manual" out there.

Or, if you're more entrepreneurial, create a blog or website along these lines. I find myself doing this on my other blog, which is slanted toward technology. Some blog posts are the result of not knowing out how to do something that's not documented and then figuring out and posting the solution. I do this for free, for fun. But also, I tend to forget these solutions fairly quickly (and they can be convoluted), so having them in my blog makes it easy to find them when I need them.
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Re: Writing Instruction Manuals

Postby Elaine Glimme » Sat Nov 02, 2019 9:56 am

So all of us have the wish that you would write clear instruction manuals for us. It would be nice if you got paid for it, since this is a lot of work. I'm wondering if the options that don't provide money could be a way for you to get your foot in the door. "See, this is what I can do. Now, hire me." Or something a little more polite.

Good luck.
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Re: Writing Instruction Manuals

Postby Jason » Thu Nov 07, 2019 7:06 am

How about offering to create an instructional video for YouTube that shows you setting up/assembling the product yourself? You'd have to have to able to edit the video, because no one wants to watch someone spend 35 minutes assembling a bookshelf. :D
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Re: Writing Instruction Manuals

Postby Elaine Glimme » Mon Nov 11, 2019 11:47 am

So do any of our ideas spark your interest, or is your dream strictly to work for HP, IKEA, Samsung, etc., and write their manuals for them? Communicating on the Internet is weird because there's no immediate feedback. But I guess you can tell that a lot of us would like clearer instruction manuals. If your wish is to work for a company and write their instruction manuals, then you need to get hired. (I don't know if you can freelance that kind of a job.) You write a CV or resume and a cover letter. Have an example of what you can do. Then post on Linkdin or whatever is in use these days. It's been a long time since I've applied for a job, so I can't help much with how to get hired.

Good luck.

Or did you already get your wish? And you're now happily writing instruction manuals?
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