The LavaCon Content Strategy Conference | 27–30 October 2024 | Portland, OR
John Hedtke

John Hedtke has over 30 years as a writer and documentation manager. He has written documentation for many leading software products. John has also published 27 books and 200 magazine articles on technical subjects. (Lists of books, articles, and projects can be found at his website,
John lives near Tacoma, WA. When not otherwise occupied, he plays the banjo, writes magazine articles, and writes slogans for a button company. John is a Fellow of the Society for Technical Communication.

Estimating for More Fun and Greater Profit

This presentation is aimed at both freelancers as well as in-house staff and managers.Knowing how to estimate is one of the most important skills for any technical communicator. Making solid estimates keeps you from having to put in lots of time and makes you look like a hero no matter where you work. If you can’t estimate, you can’t set rates, schedules, or production dates. Conversely, being able to set precise estimates lets you make accurate bids and tighten your schedules so you can squeeze in that much more work.This 90-minute presentation discusses how to use simple time logs and personal project journal to assess your performance, as well as how to use a spreadsheet template (available as part of the presentation) to identify precisely what you’re doing as well as giving you an accurate, defensible estimate for the work you’re doing.


In this session, attendees will learn how to:

  • Track time spent on a project to develop accurate personal metrics (so you know how long it takes you to produce something) with a simple daily time log
  • Identify your overall writing process using a personal project journal
  • Create detailed documentation plans using a spreadsheet template (handed out as part of the presentation) that identifies exactly what you’re producing and the level of change, as well as providing enough granularity that you can predict your progress day-by-day