You’ve created a fantastic SaaS product. It needs tweaking. It needs adjusting. But in essence, it’s there and it’s good. So now what? Marketing and reaching out to prospective early customers will be on top of your to-do list after product development. In addition, the important thing you must do is to create the right product documentation (knowledge base) for your SaaS product to ensure that those using it know exactly how it’s all supposed to work.
Building a good product documentation is relatively a big task depending on the quality of the documentation. The problem is that it is not a job for which you don’t have the bandwidth and it always takes the back seat. You still are working on the SaaS product itself making sure that it will be exactly as it should be, and making sure that it does exactly what you want it to do.
What are the options for building good product documentation?
So, what are your options? You can either wait until the product is totally ready and then start working on the product documentation or, you can outsource the documentation part of the job to someone else. This will, in most cases, be the best course of action to address the gap of the product without documentation.
Outsource SaaS Product Documentation to a Freelancer
Symptoms when you should hire a freelancer
Although it’s great to have full-time resources and that feeling of loyalty and family that you can get from it, it is not always possible. Are you an startup with limited resources. You might not be in a position to hire someone full time for product documentation, and at the same time, you cannot allocate your engineering resource to sit and write documentation for your SaaS product. You might already have some full-time staff in other departments like customer support, customer happiness, marketing and so on, but none of them might have the required expertise to write product documentation. If any of these scenarios sound familiar, it is best to hire a freelancer to address this shortfall.
Advantages of using a freelancer
Outsourcing to a freelancer means that your job gets priority (particularly if you set a deadline), and you are assured someone is working on it full time avoiding the no-documentation/knowledgebase scenario. You might, for example, be able to send across a list of amendments or important information before you leave from work one evening and find that the completed document is ready for you the next morning. It saves a lot of time in between.
Over a period of time, the freelance writer will almost become part of your team and can completely own the product documentation. They will pick up enough product knowledge and can be up to speed to keep all your documentation up to date. Product documentation is one thing that gets neglected by majority of the SaaS product companies in the initial stages, and in some instances, it can simply kill your SaaS product.
As your SaaS product evolves, your product knowledge base/documentation will also evolve.
How to find good freelance technical writers?
It is essential that you find the right technical writers for the work you need to be done. This will depend on these main factors — budget, time, and personal preference.
1. Check out the writer portfolio
The first thing that you need to do is to check out your potential writers’ portfolios. It will be ideal to find someone who has done relevant work for others. Example: If your SaaS product is something to do with Event Management, try to find writers who have written about event management or something similar. If in case you can’t find anyone in your industry, identify someone who has good writing, creative and research skills and assign them a small piece of work (paid work, not a free trial) and experiment. Be prepared to move on and lose this money if it doesn’t work out.
If you find a writer who has the right level of experience, their portfolio will show you immediately that they are able to take the information you give them about your SaaS and turn it into a technical document. Remember, these documents need to be clear, concise and focused, but they also need to appeal to those who aren’t necessarily technically minded.
2. Evaluate their technical understanding and writing skills
Within that portfolio, you’re not just looking to make sure that the writer understands technical subject matter and can present it well. You also need to ensure that their spelling and grammar is perfect. If they send you a portfolio with errors, will they be up to the job that you want to do? Will they take pride in their work? Or are they just churning out the words in order to get paid? It’s important to evaluate carefully.
3. Get reviews and testimonials of their previous work
Reviews and testimonials are also incredibly important — finding their previous clients and seeing what they felt about working with them can give you an excellent idea of just how they work. Do they adhere to deadlines or are they a bit more flexible with your time? How many re-writes did it take to get it perfect? Were they easy to contact and did they respond in a timely manner? Even if a writer’s work is exemplary, if they are not great to work with, it can make the whole thing a lot harder than it really needs to be.
4. Interview the writers
Once you have narrowed your search down, it’s time to interview the writers. Many businesses skip this step and hire solely on what they have seen so far. However, the interview is actually essential, especially when it comes to technical writing. After all, would you hire an employee after reading through their CV and references? Or would you want to find out more about them to make sure they will fit in with the team and to ensure that they really do know what they say they do? Exactly! You would have a personal interview.
It’s no different when hiring a technical writer to outsource your SaaS documentation too. Your writer needs to be able to communicate effectively, prove that they understand the work required of them. If they don’t, let you know that they are willing (and able) to perform the research they need to.
Writing your own SaaS documentation isn’t always going to be possible due to time and expertise (atleast at the early stages). Therefore, outsourcing your SaaS documentation is a viable and useful option for you. If you take time to find the ideal freelance writer or document writing company, then your SaaS documentation written in the right way and will enhance the product dramatically.
Your documentation needs a tailor-made house to live in. Think about investing in kick-ass standalone knowledge base software like Document360.