Dragon Tech Writing

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

The Puzzle Your Marketing Should Be Able to Solve

It’s Marketing Monday for Dragon Tech Writing. We were considering what to post and just couldn’t seem to find our focus. Then, we found this little gem that offered some advice about stepping outside of marketing just product and services. The article suggests that you, or we in this case, also market the business. We have decided to give this a try over the next week or two.

For now, enjoy the article. The Puzzle Your Marketing Should Be Able to Solve

Full Page Marketing Flier

DragonTech Writing
Taking the mystery out of documentation

DragonTech Writing is a technical writing firm specializing in documenting software and processes, creating resumes and training materials, and formatting and editing for e-publishing.

Why Hire Us?

1. Software documentation can discover problems within the software before being released and gives customers a learning experience that minimizes frustration.

2. Process documentation can discover problems and in many cases find a solution.  Solutions allow an organization to grow their employee and customer satisfaction.

3. Resumes market your skills and abilities with concise text making your resume clean and precise.

4.Training materials can prevent employee confusion about performance and encourages employee communication with management.

5. Formatting and editing for e-publishing gives readers a polished product that they would recommend to others.

6. We deliver the product you need then we move to our next customer while you manage your business.

DITA

A Technical Writer has to stay up to date on the latest publishing software and trends within our field. We also have to be able to explain those software or trends to our employers or clients. I started to read about DITA about three years ago and I did not pay much attention. I was hired by YESCO Electronics as a technical writer. Their software choice was Adobe InDesign with their publishing choice being PDF. I was okay with this until I started documenting several different types of documentation that consisently required updating.

I started to read more about DITA and how efficient it could be. I tried to find a way to pitch DITA to the company. However, I could not find an article that really delved into the why should I care as a technical writer or why my employer should care; until now. “Why Should I Care About Dita? by Jacquie Samuals, published by TechWhirl, explains why technical writers should care about DITA. It also has some pointers to bring to management that would make any team look into DITA such as consistency and quality.

If you are a technical writer or a student in this field, I highly recommend that you read this article.

PDF, RTF, TXT, DOC, DOCW…. Which file extension do I use?

There are several different word processors out there, each has advantages and disadvantages. They  each use different file tags and will access some of the universal tags differently. This is another area that Technical
Writers should be familiar with in order to survive.

A company will likely send a draft of what they want converted/translated/polished in a format using their preferred word processor. Yes, Word is popular, but there are still diehard Open Office, Wordperfect, and other word processor users out there and the extension (the three letters behind the dot that follows the file name) will be different for each.

Many word processors will convert files from other word processors to their format but the results may or may not be acceptable. PDF is another extension that is universal but typically information is lost and it is difficult to edit a PDF file.

There are two solutions to this dilemma. First, make sure that you have a working copy of every word processor used by any customer. This is the best solution but obviously this is impractical for most writers. The next best solution is to request that customers send files with a .rtf extension. Most word processors have a save as function and will allow users to send files with an RTF extension. The advantage is that RTF files can be opened by most other word processors. They can also be easily edited and saved into the same format without losing graphics and other information.

By Neil Dabb