General

New Year, New Goals

We have been busy working on business plans for a local non-profit group as well as learning to write proposals for grant requests. We haven’t got everything nailed down quite yet but we are diligently educating ourselves.

We are also reevaluating our own business and marketing plans. In just one year, we have changed as a business and so have some of our goals.

We have started early so that we are prepared for the new year.  What are you doing to prepare your business for the new year?

A Positive Attitude Can Open Doors

Every thought is a seed. If you plant crab apples, don’t count on harvesting Golden Delicious. ~Bill Meyer

What is your attitude when you step outside your door? Are you able to leave your personal problems at home? Can you separate your personal life from your work life? 

I have had social anxiety for over twenty years. What this means is I dislike crowds, I dislike going to new places, and I have a hard time working with people. I do have anxiety attacks, my heart will race, my blood will pound, and I just know everyone is judging me negatively.  However, the field I have chosen to go into requires constant contact with all of the above.

I chose to go to college and get a degree in English, emphasis in Professional and Technical Communication. I chose a professional field that puts me in contact with people on a daily basis. I chose to start and run two business that also puts me in contact with people on a daily basis. What in the world was I thinking?

Actually, I wasn’t thinking. I was reacting to an article in the Utah State University paper, The Utah Statesman, that ran an article on how smiling can affect not only your self esteem but other people. It stated that even if you are having the worst day in your life you should still plant a smile on your face because some one else might need a friendly smile more then you do.

My reaction was well I’ll give it a try. I started to smile around the campus and before you know it people were responding. The shuttle drivers would ask how my day was, other students would walk with me and we would talk, professors even seemed more willing to help me out with my assignments. My self esteem sky rocketed and I realized that my attitude was changing and I become more positive and confident.

My point is this, your attitude determines how you will feel at the end of the day. Your attitude will make you a better human being, a better student, or a better employee.  Your attitude will either draw people toward you or push them away from you. It is up to you to chose the type of person you want to be.

By Melinda Anderson

Cake Left Out In Break Room With No Instructions

Here is an example of bad technical writing, Cake Left Out in Break Room With No Instructions. Yes, we realize it is a piece of satire written by the Onion.

However, think about it. What if a cake had appeared in the break room with nothing written on it, no one knowing why it was there, or who it was for, there would some serious confusion.

Now imagine, that cake is software with no instructions, a pretty resume with no structure, a business or marketing plan with no goals, a marketing flier with two little or too much information, an employee manual that hasn’t been updated. Not so funny now.

Instructions no matter what they are pertain to need to be clear and concise; even if it just a cake sitting in the break room.

Vision for the Future

We have several goals that we hope to accomplish within five to ten years. First and foremost, we plan to have enough clients that Neil and I can have a yearly salary of at least $30,000. This is currently a long term goal because we have smaller goals to invest in our company.

Before the salary, comes other goals such as getting a business membership in the Society for Technical Communicators (STC). This society offers free training to members and conferences that would help us stay on top of our business. It also offers a great networking opportunity.

We are planning to offer internships to beginning technical writer or positions to technical writers who want to retire but aren’t ready for the rocking chair; in other words, part time dabbling. When I was in college, all of the internships were in east or west coast states. I could not move my family for six months just to move them back. Especially, when that meant paying rent and mortgage. Neil and I agreed that having internships available for Utah State University (USU) students would be beneficial for the university and us.

Currently, we are running our business out of our homes with our personal equipment. We would like an office with the latest technology and software to fully grow our business.

We plan to intend every conference that relates to our field or business.  This will give us opportunities to learn about new technologies and to network with other professionals.

This is our vision for the future.

Why am I a technical writer?

My earliest memories of dealing with writing or words would be my Grandfather Janes reading to me as a child in Escondido, California. He was also a mechanic who loved to fix cars and help people as often as he could. I would get to hang out in the garage and watch him take things apart and put them back together. In fact, the smell of grease and oil will make me tear up and think of him every time.

I have also had really good English teachers who always found a way to include poetry, essays, or literature into their lesson plans. I still have haiku’s that I wrote in first or second grade tucked away in a box. However, it just wasn’t the lesson plans, it was their excitement for what they were teaching and their ability to let me be me. Even when it meant compromising their time to help me pass their classes.

In high school, I knew deep inside that I wanted to be a  writer or work with English in some way. I also knew that I did not want to be a teacher. I could handle dealing with the children but I was not willing to deal with the parents. My counselor  at the time said that the only thing I could do with an English degree would be teaching. She tried to force me into other career paths that I knew I was unsuited for but the personality tests claimed I would be perfect for. This is when I gave up.

I became pregnant with my first child, met my husband, had our second child, got married, had our third child. I was a stay at home mom without a high school degree who quickly realized that I was going to have a problem when my kids got into high school. After all, why should they graduate when neither my husband or I.

I got my GED in 1999. I attended my first day of college and passed my driver’s license test on the same day in August of 2000. While in college, I found out about the technical communication program. I choose to major in English, with an emphasis in Professional and Technical Communication. It took me a little bit longer than most to graduate, nine years, but in 2009 I graduated. All three of my kids have graduated high school and one of them is currently in college.

In a way, my story has come full circle, I love the English word and like my Grandfather I like taking things a part, putting them back together, and helping other people do the same.

by Melinda Anderson

Why Was Dragon Tech Writing Created?

There are several various different stories that led to the creation of Dragon Tech Writing but I will stick with the most recent. After I graduated in 2009, I could not find a job in my field locally. I had no desire to uproot my family and start over in another bigger city where I could have had a job. Talk about claustrophobia. After two years, I was finally able to get a job at YESCO Electronics that I loved.

It was a great position with people that I enjoyed working with, even with all the ups and downs. Unfortunately, they were having some growing pains. I made it past the first cut but not the second cut. After 2 years, I was back in the job market with a little experience and realized that the technical communication field, unless you were in a major city, was dying.

Business were focused on surviving the new economic down slide and not on growth or improvement. If they were hiring technical writers or communicators, it was part time, temporary, or contract based. While talking with my husband, I burst out and said, “Maybe, I should just start a technical writing business.”  He said, “Maybe you should.” I realized that I would not be able to create this company on my own.

I am in a stitching group that meets once a week at Embroidery Central. Carrie also attends and her husband is also a technical writer so I approached her with the idea. She talked to her husband and she arranged for us to met. We both liked each other immediately and we decided to start this business.

A year has passed and we have had one client, thank you Cirra Systems. Whenever we introduce ourselves we are constantly asked, “What is technical writing?” We are the faces of our business but it also seems we are the faces of our chosen field. We are still defining our business and its role in our community but I guarantee you, we are having a lot of fun.

by Melinda Anderson