Technical writers are the unsung heroes of the digital age. They make sure that the world’s most important software and devices are easy to use. They explain complicated concepts so that even people without any previous knowledge can understand them.
And they do all this while keeping up with ever-changing technology so that their work is always relevant and, crucially, never boring!
Technical writers may not be famous like actors or athletes, but they’re critical to our everyday lives and we’d be lost without them. In this blog post, I’ll share some of my favorite stories about what it’s like to be a technical writer in today’s world of smartphones and self-driving cars
|Technical writers play a crucial role in simplifying complex information.|
|The job involves continuous learning about various subjects and industries.|
|Attention to detail and clear communication skills are essential.|
|Collaborating with subject matter experts is a regular part of the process.|
|Balancing creativity and precision is key for creating user-friendly content.|
|Problem-solving and adaptability are valuable traits for a technical writer.|
|A day may include researching, writing, editing, and organizing documentation.|
|Technical writers contribute to user experience and product success.|
|The field offers a mix of challenges and rewards for those with a passion for writing and technology.|
Patience is a virtue, and you’re going to need it. In technical writing, you don’t get instant gratification. It takes time for your work to become useful. Don’t give up if things don’t happen right away; keep working hard at it until they do.
Technical writing also requires that you never rush through a piece of writing or edit even if that means spending more time on something than you initially intended to, or even taking two days longer than the client may want to ensure the product is as good as possible before release.
Never be afraid to ask for help when needed; many technical writers work alone and sometimes find themselves stuck on something they can’t figure out on their own (especially if they are new).
Exploring a new career path can be both exciting and challenging. Learn from the experience of others in our article on How I Got My Real Estate Writing Career Off the Ground to gain insights into successfully transitioning into the world of writing.
It’s easy to give up after a few failures, but technical writers will have to be patient if they want to get their foot in the door. According to our interviewees, persistence is key: “It took me about six months of applying before I got my first position as a user experience writer. I didn’t give up because I knew it was something I wanted to do and that it was worth working hard for.”
Being persistent doesn’t mean you have to apply for every job you see, but you also shouldn’t feel bad asking for help when needed (and being able to recognize when your writing ability needs improvement).
If this is your career goal, then don’t lose hope! Just keep trying and don’t forget that there are plenty of other ways technical writers can find work besides getting hired by an established company or agency for example: freelancing or starting your own business as an independent contractor.
Get Your Work In Front Of The Right People
You can use a variety of tools to get your work in front of the right people. The most obvious is LinkedIn, but it also helps to use your network and reach out directly to prospects via email or phone.
Another option is Zapier, which lets you automate actions based on data from other services (like Salesforce). For example, if someone follows you on Twitter and then signs up for an account in one of your products, Zapier will create an entry in Salesforce that contains this information.
You could also try Slack or Twitter as another way to reach out directly with interesting content about your company’s products and services.
Curious about the life of a technical writer? Discover firsthand accounts in our piece about What It’s Like to Be a Technical Writer and get a glimpse into the daily tasks, challenges, and rewards of this creative profession.
Section: Know Your Audience
It’s important to keep in mind who your audience is and what they’re interested in. Ask yourself:
What are their pain points?
Why do they care about this topic?
What goals do they want to accomplish as a result of reading this document?
You should also be familiar with the following information about your audience:
Are they technical or non-technical? If you’re writing for technical people, then the language you use should reflect that level of expertise.
If you’re writing for non-technical people (as I was), then it’s good to have some knowledge of common terminology used by software engineers because those terms won’t make sense outside of the developer community but don’t go overboard!
Most technical words don’t need italics or bolding just because they’re technically accurate; if anything, using both makes them look silly and unprofessional. (Here are some more tips on using language effectively.)
Think About How You Can Use Information
There is a lot of information out there about technical writing, but the most important thing to remember is that it’s not just about how you write.
Everything from your choice of words, tone, format, and structure can affect how people react to your content. You need to consider every aspect of the result as well as what will happen before you write anything.
Think about how you can use the information given by someone else or experience gained through trial and error:
Consider The Audience: Who Are They? What Do They Already Know? Why Should They Care
Use words in context: There may be different ways of saying something depending on who needs to understand it or what kind of product or service it relates to.
And if users don’t understand something (even if they’re experts at their jobs), they won’t use what you’ve written properly and then no one wins!
Use range in style: Think about using informal language when talking directly with customers via email but also formal language when addressing them through a website form where customers fill out all their details before submitting for approval for example.*
Success in writing requires mastering the art of communication. Check out our tips in 10 Secrets to Succeed as a Real Estate Writer to learn valuable insights that can enhance your writing skills, whether you’re in real estate or technical writing.
Always Think About The Reader, Not Just Yourself
It’s easy to get lost in your head when you’re writing technical documentation. You’re so close to the project, and you need all of the exact details just right. But you are not the only person who will be reading your work and that means it’s important to always keep the reader in mind when creating content.
Think about how your work will be used. For example, if you’re writing an instruction manual for a piece of equipment or software.
Think about whether someone will be reading it on their phone or laptop or tablet computer while sitting on a couch at home (or wherever else they might take their device), or sitting in front of a screen at work trying to troubleshoot something related to what they’re supposed to do with said piece of equipment/software.
Think about how your work will be read: Are there sections where readers can swipe left/right through pages? Should those sections have lots of images interspersed throughout them? If readers go back and forth between pages multiple times while using their phone as a reference source, should each page contain only one paragraph per bullet point?
Or should there be multiple paragraphs per bullet point so readers can scan down quickly without having too much information displayed at once?
Building a fulfilling career in technical writing involves more than just skills—it’s about crafting a path you enjoy. Explore our guide on How to Build a Technical Writing Career You Can Enjoy to uncover strategies for shaping a rewarding and enjoyable journey.
Experiment With Different Ideas
As you progress in your career, you’ll find yourself thinking about the types of projects and positions that would be right for you. Just remember to experiment with different ideas before committing to one.
Try different writing styles, tools, and formats. Think about how much time it would take to complete each project and what kind of audience you’re targeting (internal or external). And finally, focus on how this choice fits into your overall career goals if possible, and try to align it with something that aligns with those goals!
Think With Your Head And Write With Your Heart
The more you think about the reader and what they need to know, the better your writing will be.
Technical writers have to sometimes write about topics that are dry, boring, or even downright confusing. But there is a way around this problem: think with your head and write with your heart. When you set out to write something, always start by asking yourself what the reader needs to understand to use the information they read from you effectively.
Then write down those ideas as clearly and succinctly as possible but don’t stop there! Add some personality to it so that it sounds like something an actual person would say instead of just cold-hard facts on a page (unless that’s what you’re going for).
For example, if we’re talking about how an application works with databases:
The field of technical writing holds a wealth of opportunities and interesting facts. Delve into the details in our post about Technical Writing: The Career, Salary, and Some Fun Facts to gain a deeper understanding of the profession and its various facets.
These are just a few of the things I’ve learned about being a technical writer. I hope this article has helped you to better understand what it means to be one or at least given some insight into how much work goes into writing for others!
Explore more insights and perspectives on the world of technical writing:
Technical Writing Pays a Lot, But Is It an Ideal Career for You? Short Description: Is technical writing the right fit for you? Dive into the discussion about the pros and cons of pursuing a career in technical writing.
A Day in the Life of a Technical Writer Short Description: Ever wondered what a typical day looks like for a technical writer? Gain valuable insights from a firsthand account of a day in the life of a technical writer.
Life of a Technical Writer Short Description: Discover the journey of a technical writer, from their role in software development to the impact they have on creating effective user documentation.
Have questions about the life of a technical writer? Here are some answers to common queries:
What does a technical writer’s job involve?
A technical writer creates clear and concise documentation to explain complex concepts, products, or processes to users, aiming to make information easily understandable.
What skills are crucial for a successful technical writing career?
Successful technical writers possess strong writing skills, attention to detail, the ability to understand complex topics, and proficiency in using documentation tools.
How does a day in the life of a technical writer usually look?
A typical day involves researching and understanding the subject matter, collaborating with subject experts, drafting, editing, and formatting documentation, and ensuring its accuracy and usability.
Is technical writing a well-paying profession?
Yes, technical writing can be financially rewarding due to its specialized nature and the demand for high-quality technical documentation in various industries.
How can one transition into a career in technical writing?
Transitioning often involves building a solid portfolio of writing samples, showcasing relevant skills, networking within the technical writing community, and possibly pursuing relevant training or education.
Costantine Edward is a digital marketing expert, freelance writer, and entrepreneur who helps people attain financial freedom. I’ve been working in marketing since I was 18 years old and have managed to build a successful career doing what I love.