To excel in a startup environment, technical writers need to have a strong technical aptitude, the ability to both lead and be independent, the capacity to evaluate content strategy decisions instead of just documentation, versatility to write in a variety of situations, and stability to weather the roller-coaster ride of startup finances

1. Technical aptitude

You need to be strong enough technically to select and implement the appropriate tools for the technical writing tasks. At a startup company, you will likely need to decide on the authoring and publishing tools and workflow, get support to make purchases, and then implement them all by yourself.

You won’t just be plugging in to an existing framework, usually. Or if there is an existing framework (e.g., Google Docs), you might need to transition it to a more robust and mature publishing model.

2. Independence and leadership

You’re often the only technical writer at a startup, so you need to be able to be comfortable working independently. At the same time, you need to be outspoken and bold enough to teach others at your company about how technical writers should integrate into the software development lifecycle, how technical writers fit into the organization hierarchy and groups, how the review process should go, and so on.

You have to train the company about how they should work with technical writers, because often they won’t really know where, when, or how to work with you.

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