There is no job in the world of tech that has not changed in some way over the years. Technical writing is no exception. There’s a lot of competition for skilled scribes who can translate complicated topics into language that the average end user will understand. If you want to get a job in the field – or are hoping to advance – it is important to focus on improving your skills in some key areas.
Here are some examples of skills that aspiring and beginning technical writers should work on:
Keep Your Writing Clear
First and foremost, a technical writer must be able to write well. Brush up on your spelling and grammar so as not to give your copy editors a hard time. Keep your sentences clipped and to the point. Avoid ideas that run on and on. If you can’t get to the point quickly and drive it home, your readers may not understand your message.
Just as in every job, there are areas that technical writers can compromise to some extent. Writing skill is not one of them. This is the core of what you do, and it never hurts to get better at it.
Bring Out Your Inner Journalist
You aren’t going to understand everything about a product or service immediately. And you can’t just look up a manual on the internet – chances are, you’re the one who has been tasked with writing the manual. This is when it is time to find the people who do have the requisite expertise and learn what they know. You’ll need to develop the skills to have lengthy conversations with experts and distill out of them the most pertinent information that you need.
Stay Up To Date With Technology
As a general rule, it always helps for technical writers to have some technology knowledge. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to be able to design a circuit board while blindfolded, but you should be paying close attention to the industry and how it advances. Read tech news daily, and keep track of the latest big announcements and product launches. How do the latest gadgets work? Do they utilize new designs or concepts that appear poised to take over the market? You may find yourself explaining these things to readers before long.
Visualize Your Message
Remember when we said writing skills are important? They still are, but the modern internet also places a premium on visual content.
You can’t just haphazardly insert pictures to break up blocks of text. Think about what your readers are looking to get out of your content, and offer them additional value for the time they spend engaging with it. Sometimes, a lengthy written explanation requires a corresponding instructional video or diagram to really hit home. How can you lay out your work in a manner that is attractive and compelling?