What is Technical Writing?
It is concerned with the creation of functional documents. It requires a high degree of technical understanding and comprehension and the ability to present information in a clear, concise, and logical manner. The content might be user guides, online help articles, App or software documentation, or product descriptions. Other examples may include technical reports, Memo, website content, correspondence, policies, briefings, and press releases. It is a part of a wide range of jobs, including high-tech manufacturing, engineering, biotechnology, energy, aircraft, finance, IT, and the global supply chain; it can also be a stand-alone profession.
Who is a Technical Writer?
If you’ve ever had to explain anything complicated to a non-technical person, you know how difficult it can be to convey that knowledge in a way they comprehend. So, a technical writer delivers in-depth and accurate descriptions of technical realities in an accessible manner to an audience for the reader to apply the knowledge for the desired goal.
For example, If you’re a programmer but don’t want to spend all day coding or if you prefer teaching people how to contribute to open-source projects or explain complex topics through writing.
Essential Technical Writing Skills
The following are the essential technical writing skills you will need to become a successful technical writer.
1. Writing Skill
Writing, in general, refers to the act of communicating thoughts and ideas in an understandable manner by employing symbols (letters of the alphabet, punctuation, and spaces). On the other hand, technical writing is a more particular procedure of communicating or presenting your thoughts, perspectives, instructions, and suggestions logically and technically.
- First and foremost, every technical writer must express themselves clearly through the written word in the language they choose.
- You should also become familiar with your favourite communication medium’s grammar and the rules of grammar.
- Understand how illustrations can help you write better, and use them when you can.
- Reading is a great way to enhance your vocabulary, and you should cultivate a good reading habit.
- Take some online writing courses to improve your writing skills
2. Technical Skill
It implies that you must have an extensive technical understanding of a particular sector to become a technical writer. Many technical writers are engineers, financial and business analysts, or programmers, or are already experts in their field before delving into writing.
3. Research Skill
Research is vital in technical writing. Because you are responsible for gathering data and converting it into useful information, you must be knowledgeable about the topic matter you are writing about. This ensures your writing is correct and quickly conveys the required information.
4. The Knowledge of Your Audience
As stated earlier, a technical writer’s job is to convey complex technical knowledge to non-technical people. Because of this, identifying and understanding your audience is an essential first step in the most successful technical writing process.
With an understanding of the reader, you can adapt and shape your piece to meet their requirements and convey your message more efficiently.
So, how can you find out more about your target audience and what they like?
To do this, you must ask yourself questions such as: “Who are my audience(readers), and why they’re interested in the content? What are they hoping to get out of it, and why is it important to them?. Your research skills will come in handy at this stage to compile the necessary data on your target audience.
5. Right Choice of Terminologies
If you’re writing an essay for a lay audience, you should utilize terminologies that are simple to comprehend. You may also use tangible examples to help your audience grasp what you’re saying. It must be clear, direct, and professional and should not be littered with sentimental language. Here are several crucial traits to acquire to preserve this look.
- Selection of Words. Use the appropriate word for the situation, refrain from using slang or obscene remarks. Also, when writing, don’t use too many pronouns, like “it” and “this,” because the reader might not be able to tell which nouns they mean.
- Plain Language: Always make an effort to communicate concepts and phrases in the most straightforward manner possible to avoid misunderstandings.
- Using Visual Representation: Technical knowledge might be challenging to communicate only through writing. It is possible to make your explanation more understandable by including a picture or diagram and strategically positioning it.
- Review: A proper review should always be performed before posting your work, check for grammatical errors, spelling mistakes, and punctuations before publishing or submitting your work
6. Ability to Use Digital Tools
There are many tools that professional writers need to use when they write technical content. Aside from the basic text editors, you should also be able to make visuals and annotate photos and screen grabs, obtain data from Excel and present that data in graphs and tables, which is typically more advanced.
Writers employ many tools to help them with their writing, such as grammar and spell checking tools, Email tools, etc.
How to Become a Technical Writer
To become a technical writer is easy If you already have technical skills like programming, data analyzing and others. It is easier for you to put your knowledge into writing. You may find it more challenging if you have a background in writing and are attempting to grasp technical stuff. It is essential to acquire technical knowledge before going into the writing aspect. Because it is a highly competitive field, you must hone your skills to the optimal and ensure they are top-notch.
The following are what you need to do to become a professional technical writer:
- Take an online course on technical writing: The importance of taking an online course on technical writing cannot be overstated. There are several benefits to taking a class on writing technical content. You will learn various techniques that will enhance your writing skills. In the following sections, you’ll find a variety of online courses that you can use to improve your technical writing skills.
- Read More: You should cultivate the habit of reading. This will enable you to keep yourself to the latest updates in your field. In addition to helping you learn more about the writing industry, it will also keep the creative juices flowing by allowing you to connect with others in the community.
- Practice More: You will need to write to practice and showcase what you have learnt. No matter how many technical writing classes you attend or how many technical publications you read, you will not be considered a writer until you demonstrate your writing ability. To be a writer, you must register, come up with topics, write on them, and publish on blogs. You can start posting your content on blogs like Medium, FreecodeCamp, Dev.to, Hackernoon, Hashnode, and others. By doing this, you are also building your portfolio to show your prospective clients.
Online Courses on Technical Writing
Here is a collection of online courses you can take to build your technical writing skills. This collection of online courses and educational materials is designed to assist you in improving your technical documentation.
Take advantage of Google’s free technical writing classes to sharpen your writing abilities in the technical field. Google designed these courses specifically for computer engineers, programmers, computer science students and other tech-related professions.
A free online course put together by Hashnode Bootcamp can help you learn all of the skills you need to be an excellent technical writer in just a few days.
Udemy has a vast collection of courses from different instructors to equip you with the knowledge and the skills you need to be a professional technical writer. This set of courses is everything you need to set and position your career in the industry.
Students will learn the technical writing abilities required to explain the knowledge gathered via the technical work process during the course. Also, you’ll learn how to write a variety of technical reports, including progress reports, research reports, design and feasibility studies, consultant reports, and so on.
This online course from The University of Sheffield, geared for student and professional engineers, will provide you with an introduction to technical report writing techniques.
Writing expert Leslie O’Flahavan walks students through constructing a quick-start guide that helps the audience quickly locate the answers to their inquiries. You will learn to write a quick start guide for a product or program.
Freelance Platforms That Pays Technical Writers Well
Several online platforms hire technical writers for remote jobs and freelance jobs. The following selected platforms will pay you up to $1000 for writing for them.
Linode offers a writing program called “Write for Linode for freelance contributors.” More than 1,000 guides and tutorials in the Linode library draw more than one million visitors every month, so they pay you to write for them. The average pay per article is $400.
You may earn money creating technical articles for the Hasura GraphQL Engine or GraphQL in general through the Hasura Technical Writer program. Contributing to Hasura’s public collection of resources and making the GraphQL Engine more accessible to developers will be a win-win.
Articles published on the Hasura blog can earn writers a personal payment or a gift to a charity or open-source project of their choosing. Hasura pays $300 per article.
Ruby, PHP, and JS developers with an in-depth understanding of the subject matter and who are ready to write for us are sought by our company. While we’ll pay you handsomely ($500 per article), our team will also ensure that your posts are visually appealing and reach the appropriate demographic.
As a technical writer, you can be paid up to $400 per article for contributing to the ‘Write for DOnations’ program on the digital ocean platform. The initiative encourages community writers to contribute to DevOps, software engineering, and production systems tutorials.
For creating content, authors are paid up to $400 per post. In addition, you get paid between $75 and $150 for updating an existing article, depending on the quality of the content.
Cube.js is a free and open-source tool that enables developers to create analytical applications quickly and easily. The Cube.js Guest Writer program compensates developers for writing on analytical software, visualization techniques, and data science.
ContentLab is one of the most rapidly expanding technical content development services. To help developers understand products, make decisions, and solve programming challenges, ContentLab is recruiting for a broad group of excellent technical writers. In exchange for sharing your knowledge and empowering other developers through your writing, you will be paid up to $500 per article.
CircleCI enables developers to accomplish their best work by providing them with the needed tools. They deliver instructive, actionable, and opinionated information to help developers thrive and flourish. CircleCI pays up to $300 per article.
Auth0’s blog has become one of the most popular developer forums globally, thanks to a large list of talented technical writers. Auth0 is looking for extensive technical articles demonstrating how to do tasks using existing and future technologies such as Python, Identity and Security, the Internet, and Java. Depending on the article, Auth0 pays up to $450.
There are more than detailed documents in the 100ms’ library of manuals, guides, and blogs. This library draws in top developers because it has more than complex documents. 100ms rewards writers that are contributing to their community by paying them. If your post is selected for publication on the Engineering Blog, you may expect to receive anything from $100 to $500 for each piece you submit.
You can become a member of the QuickNode Authorship Program and write technical material for the web3/blockchain community while being paid for it. You can earn money by sharing your knowledge and taking part in one of the most rapidly advancing technologies in the world.
The Postmark blog is an excellent place for you to share your knowledge and experience while also helping Postmark improve its tech community.
The Postmark blog is a fantastic resource for developers to build better email apps.
Tutorials that address basic themes relevant to transactional emails, such as delivery and reputation, design and tools, and testing, are welcome. Also, tutorials about using Postmark with specific languages and systems, such as Python, Rails, Laravel, Node.js, and other similar technologies, are highly welcome. Postmark pays between $300 – $500 per article.
The technical writing field is demanding, constantly evolving, and maybe quite sophisticated. It is necessary to sharpen your abilities and stay on top of your game to succeed. Additionally, you must be a genuine word magician to translate complex technical knowledge into simple-to-understand language.
Use the information and tools provided here to enhance your knowledge and land additional technical writing gigs. I wish you the best of luck in your professional endeavours!