What is Technical Writing?
Technical writing is a type of writing that is used to communicate technical information. This technical information can be anything from software documentation to instruction manuals or blog posts.
Technical writers are responsible for creating and managing the technical documentation. They are the ones who create guides, tutorials, and other types of documents that explain how to use a product or service.
The technical writing profession is a relatively new one. It has been around for many years but it has only been in the last 30 years that it has gotten popular as more companies have started to outsource their documentation needs to third-party companies. In this article, you will learn about some of these companies and how you can get paid writing for them.
What Does A Technical Writer Work On?
Technical writers can work on a wide range of tasks, from writing content for how-to articles to creating technical marketing writing or they might just focus on being a tech writer.
A technical writer communicates with engineers and other technical staff in order to understand their projects and goals, and then explains them in plain English with real-world applications.
Technical writers also edit and format content that is aimed at the end-user documentation. They are responsible for ensuring that this content is accurate and easy to read while being visually appealing.
Are you Good at Technical Writing?
Good technical writers are in charge of taking complex information and making it understandable. They simplify the content and make it easy to read.
When you start a project, the first step is to think of the project’s goals and plan it well. Then, get the document started.
When you write help material for users, there are some questions to ask yourself. It's important to step into their shoes in order to provide something that is not just useful but also interesting to read:
- What do they do?
- What do they need?
- Why do they need it?
Now that you know what your audience needs, make sure to also understand how the document satisfies that need.
Keep in mind that experts can naturally be biased and overlook a document's usability, instead focusing on what they want to say. They can also be biased towards their own views and unable to see the document objectively.
The viewpoint of the reader is important because each reader will have a different perspective on what they want to read.
How Can I Improve My Technical Writing Skills?
In this section we will cover how technical writers and bloggers can use their technical skills as writers, content creators, and marketers in order to target audience.
Technical writers are responsible for the documentation of complex products, processes, or systems. They use a variety of formats to communicate with readers including tutorials, instructions, and research reports.
In order to become a technical writer, you must have strong English skills and an understanding of how to teach others. You will also need an understanding of the product or the system that you are documenting in order to provide accurate information.
Some people may choose to specialize in a certain type of technical writing such as instructional design or usability testing. This can be done through formal / informal training, online course or education programs offered by subject matter experts in this field.
Becoming a technical writer is not an easy task. It requires a lot of time and experience in the technical field. However, if you are an engineer, the transition is much easier. Just start with building your writing portfolio.
Build up your experience as an engineer by doing internships, volunteering at a community organization that focuses on engineering work and taking a technical writing course.
To become an efficient technical writer, you should also have experience using the product or service and collect the frequently asked questions to document in a separate section so that the user can find most answers to his day-to-day duties.
Start with your own blog
Blogging is also a great way to establish yourself as an industry expert and generate more leads for your business or startup. The best way to get started blogging is by starting with what you know.
As a technical writer, you might find yourself in the position of needing to blog about a topic or niche that is of interest to your readers or you can write about something you're passionate about.
You can then build on that knowledge by researching other topics that are related to your industry and writing about them on your blog.
The first step in creating your own blog is deciding on a content management system or CMS that will help you maintain your blog posts in one place without having to worry about technicalities like formatting HTML code or writing css or get busy with the back-end. You can start with any of the following: Wordpress, Wix, Ghost, Squarespace, Strapi or Sanity
Blogs are a great way to build your personal brand and express yourself. Blogs allow you to share your content, grow with your business or potential clients in mind.
Blogging is not just for people who are experts in their field; it’s for anyone who wants to share with the world. There are many different types of blogs that can be created: personal blogs, technical blogs, expert blogs, company blogs, etc.
The type of blog you should create depends on what you want to do with it and who your audience is.
How to write better documentation
It is not enough for software developers to learn about the system from just reading the code. They need to have an understanding of what they are coding for and why it needs to work in a certain way. Documentation provides this information and makes it easier for developers to work together on a project.
Understand that the documentation is a form of technical communication that can be written in the form of text, images, videos, or interactive tutorials.
Well-written documentation is a key to successful project. It can provide a reference for the project team, as well as the end user.
The documentation starts by explaining what the software is and why it's important to read through it. It then goes through all the main components before detailing the features of the product or the service. The documentation must also include templates of how to use it and many examples of how to apply it.
Keep in mind that you need to think of examples and mention them often in each section. That way, the reader gets all the technical knowledge information they need in an easy-to-read way.
P.S. If you decide to write documentation for companies, look for in-house opportunities. The following section will help you lay out the groundwork for building a well-structured, easy-to-follow documentation.
Steps to follow when building a professional technical material:
Consulting with specialists is always a good idea. Experts will provide more information than you could ever gather on your own. They may be colleagues, contacts at your client company, or outside experts in the field.
Professional writers are always keen to learn and are inspired by users so that they can craft a good documentation.
While starting to sketch out the documents, you need to follow the latest best practices and collect all information from:
1. Annual reports or professional reports and manuals
Technical reports are written to provide information on a subject. They can include analysis, instructions or recommendations, and they aim to provide readers with enough background so they can be informed and able to make decisions. Technical manuals are also handy as they provide instructions on how to use a device or program.
2. The business emails
Emails allow you to deliver an amount of information in one message and can have engaging subject lines. However, using this information or the sort of communication to understand about the product or service you're writing about is extremely important. Users are also communicating in their own language, so this might be helpful for getting a deep understanding of what the users really know about the product.
3. The technical specifications and data sheets
Data sheets are technical type of documentation that provides all the possible technical features about a product. They offer plenty of detail for the external parties to integrate it into their own system.
4. Previous guides
Guides and handbooks are short and handy references to guide you through a process. They usually provide pictures or illustrations in order to make the process easier for you. You need images and illustrations to help break up the technical concepts and make it easier for your readers to understand.
- As a general example, repair manuals or user manual for assembling a new coffee table might include images of the finished product.
- Specific example related to our topic is Stripe's documentation that provides instructions on how to use their products and tools, as well as examples of how to use them.
- Another great example to follow or learn from when writing documentation is React's documentation. This book can help you understand more about technical documentations.
How Much Does A Professional Technical Writer Make?
Due to the continuous demand for high-quality content, there is a 6% projected growth rate for technical writers from 2021 to 2031, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. They are needed by a number of industries, including engineering, healthcare, law enforcement, and education.
The average pay range for technical writers is between $43,000 and $89,000. This salary can be higher or lower depending on factors such as location and experience level.
If you’re a freelance technical writer, you can get paid for writing technical articles at levels ranging from $100 to more than $600. The level of payment depends on your skills and experience as a freelance writer.
You can find a list of publications that pay you by article in the following list:
Conclusion and Next Steps for Becoming A Technical Writer
Technical writing is a valued and competitive skill. It is beneficial to your career no matter if you want to switch from other industries or looking for a new way to expand it. Technical writing is becoming more prevalent at work and is a valuable skill these days. Try to maintain your skills in this area as it has a huge career benefit and will likely yield you an easier, more profitable job. The demand for technical writer jobs is increasing and more technical writing jobs are opening up every year.
Become a successful technical writer by starting with planning, writing and reviewing. Work on developing your communication skills, language and find real professional writing opportunities.
Also writing for fun and publishing it can be a great way to improve your skills and maintain career momentum. Good technical writing skills will prove to be useful in either the development or writing fields. You could also get an online degree or certificate in technical writing.