Succeeding as a Technical Writer

Posted by
Elmira in TechComm Career Path on 1/20/20214 min read

two men wearing suits highfive

“The tendency of remote working in 2020 is blended into 2021”.

And, the field of technical communication continues to grow since this sphere is one of those that are not tied to a certain workplace. Worldwide demand for simplified technical English also keeps growing because developing countries (i.e., India or China) export great amounts of products that need technical documentation. And, they acknowledge the need to improve their technical documentation. Companies that hire technical writers want to ensure that content is consistent and of top quality. But technical writing isn’t confined to these frames. Technical writers work in software, consulting, government, broadcasting, transportation, telecommunications, healthcare, publishing, etc.

US Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the

“up to 10 percent growth in demand of technical writers”

due to constant increase in scientific and technical products.

In this connection, more and more universities offer Courses for Tech Writing, and a growing number of people enter the profession of a tech writer. See for yourself Best Courses/Books/Resources for Technical Writers. That’s why a technical writer must always improve relevant skills to outstand among other applicants.

woman in glasses and laptop passes folder

Advice to Level Up Your Skills and Strengths as a Technical Writer

  1. First of all, you should stay focused: choose the technical area you have a specific skill set in. It can range from medicine to space, from games to agriculture, and many more. Deepen your knowledge in that sphere with any means accessible. In fact, with every new document you create, you become more well-grounded on that subject, and your value increases.
  2. No technical writer can do without a standard approach to writing. Using a style guide is a must and even a newcomer knows that. But no harm is done in repeating the truism. So, the style guide is a set of standards for writing and designing content. The style guide for technical writing defines the style that should be used in technical communication. It helps you write documentation more clearly and keep a consistent tone of voice and style. You can create your personal style guide, but it is more time- and effort-saving to use the existing ones and customize them for your needs. Many of them are freely available:
    • ASD-STE100 Standard, or the Simplified Technical English style guide
    • Microsoft Manual of Style
    • Oxford Manual of Style
    • Handbook of Technical Writing
    • Apple Style Guide
    • The IBM Style Guide online or the PDF
    • Google Style Guide, etc.
    • AP Stylebook
  3. Tech writers must understand Content Management Systems (CMS) and digital tools such as:
    • WordPress
    • Joomla
    • Drupal
    • Magento
    • Squarespace
    • etc.
    These systems allow writers to create, edit, and publish their documents. But not just that. With a content management system, you can present your documents to the readers the way you want to.

    A huge variety of CMSs exist nowadays, but not many of them are specialized exactly for technical writers. ClickHelp is one of such a whiz. It’s a cloud-based online documentation tool that provides a flexible, user-friendly solution when creating docs.

  4. Keep learning. Consultation with specialists is crucial. Such people should be pros on the topic you’re working on. SMEs (Subject-Matter Experts) will deliver additional or analogous information that can make the user guide more complete to the end reader. Don’t miss an opportunity to maintain contact throughout your work as professionals can add value at different stages, especially during a review, and broaden your knowledge of the matter as well.
  5. Improve your communication skills. Some projects demand more than one tech writer. This means you will have to successfully cooperate with others, so that deadlines are achieved and made in good order. We cannot help you improve your personal qualities, but ClickHelp can help your teamwork organize the process.
  6. Aim for readers. Technical writers are translators in some sense. They translate complex texts into a plain language understood by average users. To do this successfully, tech writers must know their audience, differentiate their readers based on their understanding, and target people for products correspondingly. The document may consist of the same information, but the data submission differs greatly for different users. That’s when single-sourcing comes to help.

four people sitting at table with laptops highfiving

Conclusion

To become prosperous as a technical writer, you should always remember to level up the skills that we mentioned. The important thing is to understand that it’s not a sprint; it’s a marathon. Overall, prospects for growth include working on more complex projects.

“According to a small inquiry we made, it takes three years on average to become a Senior Technical Writer.”

Just keep improving and learning and use correct tools, like ClickHelp. That’s the key to your success as an expert technical writer.

Good luck with your technical writing!
ClickHelp Team
Author, host and deliver documentation across platforms and devices

 

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