Between instructor guides and student training manuals, I wrote approximately 1400 pages of content (or about 200,000 words) in 2017. To support those workshops, I developed over 400 PowerPoint slides and several quick reference guides. For self-paced training, I developed a total of about 800 eLearning slides, evenly divided between presentation style, interactive and review questions.
I produced 110 minutes of tutorial videos, and between the videos and eLearning, recorded approximately 210 minutes of narration. I wrote another 6000 words of new knowledge base content across four different software products.
After working as a localization specialist on other authors' single-source documentation for several years, I also authored my first massive single-source documentation project for both user guides and online help for a multi-module SaaS product.
In addition, in my own business as a freelancer, I wrote proposals, blog posts and even a start to my own course content.
It all feels like a pretty good accomplishment, so now I want to share the strategies and workflows that help me stay super efficient and productive.
In this post, I'll introduce you to my technology stack. What I've learned in 12 years as a freelancer, is that one tool does not do it all. I'm a big believer in using the right tool for the job, and these are the tools I've invested in on a regular basis to help me create effective content.
Words are the basis of any customer education project, whether they are delivered as guides, instructor-led training or scripts for narration work.
Images are an absolute must for technology documentation and training.
A video of under three minutes can teach a basic skill exponentially better than two or three pages of text with visuals. No one reads documentation, but as long as you keep videos short, your audience will watch and learn what they need to know.
*I have also used Adobe Premiere Pro, but find it way more power than I need for tutorial videos.
Video is just not the same if it doesn't include narration.
I worked in Authorware for a couple of years before my extended family leave from the workforce, so I was excited when I got the opportunity to add the rapid development eLearning tools to my skill set.
Project Management and Beyond
I'd be remiss if I failed to mention that all of this content takes planning and project management to stay on task and get things done. I use a combination of Evernote and Nozbe to manage tasks and projects. I also have other tools that help me run my business, including Toggl, Excel and Quickbooks, but I'll focus on content development in this blog.
Coming up, I'll be doing some deep dives about specific workflows that help me take advantage of each tool's strength, while staying efficient and effective with the task at hand.