We have developed a web application. Now I am looking for freelancers who can write the online help and technical manuals for parts of it. However, I am not aware of the way these services are charged( num of pages ? / type of application ? / hours of work ? / etc ). Can anyone help me understand how these services are charged for and what are the market rates ?
As a novice technical writer, I have two bits of advice for you. First, no matter how well you write, do not attempt to write the documentation yourself. Second, do not hire a freelancer who is going to work for $10 per hour--you'll get exactly what you pay for. I would suggest that something in the range of $35-$50 is far more realistic.
The success of your web application depends on users' experiences with it. Users' experiences with it will depend on the quality of the online help and manuals to support it.
Check out the STC (Society for Technical Communication) website for a list of technical writers, to post your job, and/or get an idea about rates.
Different freelancers will charge differently, but I think that most will charge hourly or by the project, based on the size and complexity.
You sure you need the help? I feel the same about writing documentation as I do about doing customer support.
You as a maker should be doing this yourself.
Especially early on in the life of what you made. You'll learn an incredible amount by doing this exercise yourself. If you find you need to write a ton to explain parts of your application, now you and your customer are going to be sharing the same pain. If you don't like writing about it, the chances your customer likes reading about it is slim.
Writing your own help and documentation will provide tons of good hints of where your application actually needs to become simpler or more intuitive.
If your application is intuitive, it should be no more than $25 / hourly, usually less. This is how I based that:
Typically, documentation is done by testers, people who use each daily build and become almost as familiar with the application as the developers themselves. The average salary for them starts at about $41,600.00 / yearly, or approximately $20 / hour based on a 40 hour week.
I think, you'll end up paying that (roughly) even if hiring a freelancer charging $10/hourly , as there is a bit of a learning curve involved.
I would not go with a per page quote unless the person is already at least familiar with what they are documenting. What you'll get is a best effort to do what they can while still making some money out of the deal, wherein you'll end up spending close to the higher hourly rate I described while getting their output presentable and accurate.
I could be off a few bucks in either direction. Basically its the same bottom cost as far as a single project goes, what remains is how you go about getting to it. Pick the path of least frustration.