From a pen to a modem, from a refrigerator to a drone – there is nothing that technology has not touched. Technical writing is one of the most well known sides of content writing. If you are a content writer, you must have been faced with a query for the same at some point. Yet, there is very little known about this niche and about technical writers, in general. In case you are looking to further your earnings as a content writer, this would be a valuable skill to build. As per the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for this skill is expected to hit a 10 per cent growth between 2014 to 2024!

But, first things first.

What is Technical Writing?

When you buy an appliance or a gadget, what greets you as soon as you open the box? The manual! That is technical writing staring you right in the face. It is a very relevant skill for anyone who works in the tech space – engineering, mining, product development, design, science and so much more.

Think about an example. You are a blogger looking to launch your blog on a platform like WordPress. Eventually, you want to make money from your blog. How will you do this? The technical know how about the various features would help you create products and publish them for your audience!

Here’s what technical writing can do:

  • Explaining functions and terms in easy to understand language.
  • Communicating the features and USP of various products.
  • Covering all the frequently asked questions and possible problems in usage.
  • Providing the right instructions for using a product.
  • Creating a manual that explains the technology behind a product.
  • Creating content with web pages and other resources.
  • Writing emails and proposals for technology driven products.

Technical Writing is a valuable skill for creating manuals and technical content which can be easily understood and applied.

Who Needs Technical Writing?

There are a number of professionals and businesses that would require technical writers. Here is a quick list:

  • Blogs on Technical Knowledge.
  • A “How Things Work” Website on a Niche Subject.
  • Engineering Businesses.
  • Functions and User Manuals for Gadgets.
  • Hardware and Infrastructure Businesses.
  • Consumer Goods and Electronic Manufacturing Companies.
  • Mining Company Websites.
  • Students and Educational Websites.
  • Resource Based Websites.
  • Professionals who want to Update their Knowledge.
  • Websites and Blogs that Report the Latest Trends.
  • Review Writing and Unboxing Websites.
  • Report Writing Companies.
  • Market Survey Companies.
  • Environmental Solutions Businesses.
  • Development Businesses.
  • Banking Sector.
  • Real Estate Companies.
Photo by Christina @ on Unsplash

How to be a Good Technical Writer

1] Prepare the Project Plan: Once you have chosen your niche and you have taken on a project, you begin by preparing the plan or the outline. The plan has to be very meticulous. It must include the various stages of the project along with the information needed and how you will get the same. Further, you would have to assign a timeline for each phase and the overall project. The project plan should also include the people you would collaborate with, from the client’s team.

2] Know Your Audience: Send out a specific questionnaire to your client for clarity on the audience. Technical writing must play to the right audience.

For example, you would write a little more creatively for a reader who visits the blog you may write for. Or, you would have to write shorter and precise sentences to break down technical jargon in case your client is looking for manual writing.

3] Gathering the Information: Once you know who the end user would be, you would have to gather the information. Yet, many technical writers get overwhelmed with the wealth of information and technical terms out there. Yet, there is a simple way to sift through all of it so that it caters to the end user in the best possible manner. So ask yourself the following questions for technical writing and the information you are going to need and use:

  • Who is the end user?
  • How will they be using the end product?
  • How will your content help?
  • Why will they read the content?
  • When would they need this content?

These questions will help you decide on the exact information to gather and use, as well as the style and even the length of each section. As a result, this step would definitely help you structure your technical writing project in most relevant manner.

4] Develop the Document: Whether it is a blog post, website content or manual, you would need to map it out. A good mapping tool would help you place the information within your structure. As a result, there would be good flow and a uniform style in your technical writing. So, you can use a free tool like FreeMind for such an endeavor. Accordingly, this kind of a tool would highlight the relationships between the sections and show you a visual overview as well.

5] Consult and Take Feedback: You should speak with experts to brush up each section. Also, getting feedback and insights would be very helpful. There should be a strong research and feedback function built into your technical writing process.

For example, if you have created a series of blog posts on how Kindle works for publishing, you should show the first draft to budding authors and bestselling ones too. Not only will you gain an insight into what authors want to know, but you will also get a better hold over real time information you can include for those looking to crack the bestselling code!

6] Simplify: The point is to make everything as simple as possible for the end user or the reader. You should take the technical jargon and break it down into easy to understand words. Each sentence should then be fashioned into shorter sentences. Wherever possible, ensure that you present things in steps and bullet points for ease of use and understanding.

7] Reference Appropriately: Always include sources when you are citing information taken via secondary research. The references should be cited in footnotes or separate pages at the end. This is very important for every content deliverable.

8] Pepper with Visuals: Imagery with diagrams and visual elements is an important part of the layout. Make sure you show more than you tell, for ease of understanding. Further, create visual interest with relevant pictures for a refreshing break from text and jargon.