Have you been hearing the word technical writing often in recent times? With the growth of technology-driven companies, there is a growing need for this skill. Many technologies and engineering companies are looking for this writing skill, as it will help them bridge the gap between their users and the company’s products.

 

Technical writers can help with the increase in sales, improve the user experience, and unleash many conversions. These writers are like Elizabeth to your Mr. Darcy. 

 

Are you curious to know if you can make a career in technical writing? Here is a complete guide that will help you through what technical writing is, how it benefits, and some of the things you need to be aware of as a technical writer.

 

What is Technical Writing?

As we mentioned earlier, technical writing bridges the gap between product/service creators and their audience. It communicates everything from the product specifications or details to why it would help the audience.

 

Traditionally, technical writing meant writing software manuals or user help articles. However, the definition has broadened in recent times. The technical writer acts as an industry expert, helps customers gauge the solutions, attracts them to its products/services, and offers a complete understanding of what they can expect.

 

  • They author articles, blogs, and leadership write-ups on specialized topics such as current technology affairs, medical innovation, or mobile/software products
  • They help market the businesses to their end customers using website content, social media, blogs, and other formats
  • They create sales catalogues and brochures to create a need for the product and convert the sales qualified leads into actual sales
  • Lastly, they are core to providing detailed manuals to integrate, use and maintain the products.

 

The job of a technical writer is to simplify these complex concepts for the layman to understand and make the right decisions.

 

These are some of the write-ups the technical writer is responsible for delivering across various verticals, including, but not limited to sales and marketing.

 

Why is Technical Writing Essential?

Businesses need to communicate the benefits of their products, show how to use the products, and help customers on board smoothly. To unleash this experience, they need to invest in technical writing. Here are some of the benefits that companies can gain with technical writers.

 

1. Crisp and Concise Messaging

Messaging is core to marketing your business. Technical writers will personalize the write-up and display clear and simple messaging that attracts users.

 

These writers are well-versed in the technology domain, understand the industry jargon and language, and can create detailed documentation, articles, and write-ups for your business. In addition, they will use the style, tone, and language that connects with your audience and helps them understand the company.

 

2. From the User’s Perspective

It is essential to write everything from the user’s perspective. As a business owner or the tech lead for the organization, you may end up explaining all the terms correctly. However, you might miss out on what the user needs, how they understand and what it takes to make the decision.

 

The technical writers understand the audience as well as your business. Therefore, they will be able to articulate the substance in layman’s terms such that the audience engages well.

 

3. Better Sales

The result matters most to all businesses. Technical writers can produce compelling content that boosts your business visibility, thus adding to the conversion rate. In addition, they will help with business marketing collaterals, sales brochures, and materials, as well as business guides that help users know why they need the products and what edge your business offers.

 

The Skills A Technical Writer Should Have

While good writing is an essential skill for every technical writer, there are technical writing skills that you should imbibe to get hired faster.

 

1. In-depth Business/Product Knowledge

It is not enough to cover the basics when you are writing for the technology business audience. You need to go that extra mile and write an in-depth piece that simplifies every element for them. As a technical writer, you need to have in-depth knowledge of the business, products, and such solutions.

 

You need to learn all about the space they are operating in, what makes them solution leaders, what they offer, and how their product differentiates in the market. Every minute detail about the organization, its solutions, and its audience will help you write better content and target the right people.

 

2. Research Abilities

When writing marketing or sales pieces for businesses, you need to go beyond what the company offers. You need to understand their niche, how other companies create content and some of the existing gaps. Exceptional research abilities can help you develop meaningful pieces and connect with the audience. It will also help you market the business better.

 

3. Users and Persona Definition

Who are you writing this piece for? This is an essential question for every technical writer. If you know your audience, you will learn how to write your article.

 

For instance, if you are writing for developers and testers, you might want to include industry jargon that they use regularly. However, if you are writing for the decision-makers, your language should consider the maturity that defines this target market.

 

The writing need would be different for a technical manual than for a marketing blog. For example, if you write the product spec or documentation, you might want to write it for a layman, who doesn’t have the industry or software knowledge.

 

When you acquire this skill, it becomes easy to draft engaging and interactive pieces for businesses.

 

4. Systematic and Critical Thinking Capabilities

A piece of documentation or an op-ed article is a result of a well-structured and highly researched piece. However, as a technical writer, knowing all the nuances is not enough. It would help if you were adept at organizing the pieces of information in a structured format.

 

Poorly structured documentation can ruin the user’s experience and push them away from the product. As a result, you should work on organizing the material you have in the best format so that you can get the audience’s attention.

 

As a critical thinker, you would process and interpret the information better, thus translating it into a comprehensive and valuable piece for the audience.

 

5. Technical Documentation

As a technical writer, your core responsibility lies in creating software documents that communicate complex software solutions in simple and accessible language. Moreover, you will need to create user manuals, technical guides, and other integration & product-related guides.

 

It is essential to collaborate with the product teams to work on these documents to understand the information and know what they want to communicate. Technical documentation writing should be part of your skillset, as it requires a more formal yet straightforward writing style.

 

The Technical Writing Process

Technical writing is a five-step process that starts with preparing the information to be added to the document and ends with reviewing the final version. 

 

1. Defining the Scope

It is essential to know the scope of the technical document or article that you have been assigned to write. Therefore, ask these questions to formulate the scope.

  •  Who is the target audience of this guide?
  • How do they consume information?
  • What is the purpose/goal of the document?
  • What all needs to be included in this write-up?
  • What is the deadline for the write-up?

When you answer all these questions, you will be able to draft the right questions for research. It will also help with information gathering.

 

2. Research 

The second phase of technical writing involves:

  • Identifying the right resources.
  • Gathering information that suits the document’s purpose.
  • Research the niche to check how your competition writes these articles or papers. 

It is essential to collaborate with the right stakeholders, gather suitable sources, and get all the material needed to build this content. 

 

3. Storyboarding and Structuring

In this step, you are required to create the storyboard for your content piece. Whether you are writing a document or a small blog, you need to have the structure in mind before you begin writing. 

Creating the storyboard will help you draft the outline. Once the storyboard is ready, start structuring the content into the various headlines. This will help speed up the writing process. 

 

4. First Write-up

Once you have all the necessary information, you will start writing the document. Pay specific attention to all the rules of technical writing. You want to make sure the entire write-up is in active voice, contains all the bullets and pointers, and is pleasing to the eye.

 

5. Proofread, Revise and Publish 

The first draft is a quick write-up, and you will need to polish the article before it goes live. Next, proofread, edit and then revise the portions to suit your purpose and audience. Once you have proofread twice and checked your content for all the core elements of technical writing, you can publish the same.

 

Technical Writing Course to Consider

Technical writing courses will give you a sound understanding of your skillset and mindset to work as a writer. Here are some methods that you can consider enrolling in.

 

  1. Coursera, in collaboration with the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, offers an intermediate-level course in technical writing
  2. Udemy offers a five-hour-long course in mastering your career as a technical writer. They have an 8-hour long course on creating software documentation.
  3. Learning Tree offers an introductory course in technical writing that covers all the basics and helps you get started as a technical writer.

 

Technical Writing Forums and Communities

Communities can help writers become a better version of themselves. Here are some of the communities and forums that you should be a part of to gain support and improve your writing skills.

 

  1. Techwhirl.com
  2. Technical writer forum
  3. Documentation Managers on LinkedIn
  4. Technical Writer of Writers on LinkedIn
  5. Dev. to
  6. Hash node

 

Technical Writers, You Should Follow

By following the works of these top technical writers, you will learn some nuances of how to engage your audience with good documents and content pieces. In addition, their pieces will guide you through what mistakes to avoid and what to include in your technical write-ups. 

 

  1. Simon Holdorf
  2. Randy Au
  3. Ugur Akinchi
  4. Carlos Evia
  5. Semi Koen
  6. Jeremie Harris

 

Conclusion

Technical writers are in demand as it has become important for businesses to communicate to their audience in the language they understand. Along with the right skill set, interest in technology and science can help writers go in-depth and produce valuable pieces for the audience.

 

As a writer, you should stay abreast with the current trends in technology, know what’s new and be technically aware to produce documents, articles and proposals that will help businesses gain an edge.