What Does a Shoe Store Have in Common with a Technical Writer?

Normally not much, but there is one shoe store in Florida that does. Technical writing is a niche business, and in Israel many of the more successful technical writers have created a niche-within a niche.

Technical writing as an industry or profession is characterized by individuals or very small companies who supply an individualized service. Technical writers are constantly looking for ways to standardize documentation. The question is, is this the right way to go or will we lose the product that we provide - customization?

The shoe industry, where "mom and pop" shops are a thing of the past no longer carry shoes with width sizes as well as length sizes. Nowadays shoe stores rarely stock more than one pair of the same size, so if you are like most people with one foot slightly larger or wider than the other you can't try on two pairs and take the best right and the left anymore. If you have unusually large feet you can't even try before you buy - you have to buy over the Internet.

The Bigfoot shoe store in St. Petersburg, Florida saw a niche market and opened a store around that niche. So, what does that have to do with technical writers? At first glance - nothing; but if you think about how we market ourselves, both when looking for a job/client or in-house when we try to find new responsibilities, then we can see that there is a lot in common. We both need to maximize the special benefits that we can provide that others within the company can't.

So take a look at their press release to see what you can learn from how they market themselves. If I ever get to St. Petersburg, Florida I know that I will stop in to the Bigfoot store to see what I can learn from how they market themselves.