In today’s tech-driven world, there’s a big demand for technical writers who can present complex information in a user-friendly language that the average reader can understand.
Think of your instruction manuals, how-to guides, handbooks, even white papers, technical proposals, online help sections, installation guides, and quick reference guides. These documents provide readers with clear information so they can perform a task or use a tool properly.
If you have a penchant for breaking down complex ideas and processing it into digestible content that anyone can easily understand then you might want to consider getting into technical writing.
Not sure where to start? Then you’ve come to the right place! Today, we’ll be talking about the basics of technical writing and some of the most useful tips on becoming a technical writer so you can double your income. Let’s get to it!
A technical writer uses a writing style that presents information in the most accessible way possible. This usually involves communicating technical or specialized topics and providing information to the reader about how to use that information.
Some of the tasks that a technical writer is expected to perform include:
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that the demand for technical writers will grow 10 percent from 2014 to 2024. This is because of the continued increase in scientific and technical products in the market.
Furthermore, the BLS states that the average technical writer in the US made around $76,860 in 2019. The highest annual average salary for technical writers is in the computer science industry, followed by management, technical consulting, and employment services.
Technical writing requires an extensive range of skills and a strong grasp of technical concepts in certain industries. If you’re considering taking on technical writing projects, here are some tips that can help you get started:
Technical writing is useful for a number of industries and fields so the first thing you need to figure out is what kind of technical writer you want to be. So consider your strengths, interests, and backgrounds to guide you in deciding which niches you can write for.
Many clients looking for a technical writer will most likely require you to have an associate or a bachelor’s degree in technical communications, scientific writing or journalism. Pursuing coursework in specialized fields like engineering, computer and data science, and medicine is also a plus. It not only helps you develop your knowledge but also helps you become comfortable writing about a given field of study as well as addressing the specific audience for that industry.
As a freelance technical writer, you can work on a set of content, a contracted period of time, or on a per-project basis. Some projects you can take on include:
This involves writing pieces like research papers, white papers, and programming guidelines geared towards professionals within a specific field.
If you have a knack for writing content related to business and education then this project is great for you. This can include content about business growth, legal case reviews, personnel activity reports, business status reports, and reports related to educational institutions.
This involves working with medical professionals or scientists to interpret research findings. These documents are usually used as a learning resource both for other practitioners and the general public.
This niche is one of the most in-demand and profitable in the technical writing sphere. This involves writing the copy that a user sees when using a website, a piece of software, or app. This helps users navigate the product more efficiently.
Almost every product we buy on the market come with a how-to guide or a user manual that helps people understand how to operate or use it correctly.
This involves creating content that explains the specifications and features of a product. This technical writing niche aims to appeal to people with a basic technical appreciation of a product.
A white paper is designed to inform readers about an issue and how a company, through its products or services, has solved it.
This type of content is often used for marketing purposes. It involves highlighting the experience of one customers and the benefit they got from a product or service.
This technical writing niche involves highlighting the uses and functionality of a product or service. It provides readers with a clear description that allows them to understand it more.
Every company needs a document that clearly defines the processes involved in accomplishing routine tasks. This can include day-to-day operations such as processing payroll or onboarding new team members and are intended to ensure consistency and to eliminate irregularities.
This type of technical writing aims to answer specific questions that users may have about a product or service. It is written in an organized and concise manner to strengthen a user’s understanding of a product or service.
As a freelance technical writer, having a website is a must. It lets potential clients know that you exist, tells visitors who are, what you do, and why they should choose to work with you. More than that though, a website is a great place to show people what you can do. You can dedicate a page for your portfolio and highlight relevant writing samples that show off your technical writing skills as well as your technical expertise.
One of the best things about being a technical writer is that it offers you a lot of chances to learn about and grow new skills. There’s always something new to learn which can help expand and add depth to the kind of service you can provide.
So after you’ve found an area of technical writing you want to focus on, eventually you can expand into other projects. This increases your value as a service provider and helps you land a wider range of clients down the line.
Your value as a technical writer depends greatly not on your writing acumen and experience but also on your expertise in a field of study. Pursuing further education through certifications and advanced degrees helps enhance your ability to produce high-quality and relevant pieces of technical content.
As a freelance technical writer, there’s a lot of opportunities for you to land projects both locally and abroad. Freelance marketplaces like FreeUp will help connect you to clients who are looking for technical writers in their field.
The best part about platforms like this is it makes the process of landing clients much easier because of the systems they have in place. Once you get accepted, you can access to hundreds of freelancing opportunities every week so you can work and earn as much as you want.
As a technical writer, clients expect you to be a well-rounded service provider. Not only do you need to be able to produce clear, concise, and neutral-sounding pieces of writing but you should also be curious, and analytical. It will also help you are at ease in interacting with scientists, engineers, illustrators, researchers, security analysts, subject matter experts, and other professionals in your chosen field.
So to impress potential clients, you need to brush up on these:
Technical writing is a profitable skill that can help double your income. People who are able to convey technical information in an accessible way are valuable human resources that any client would want to have.
While a lot can go into becoming a proficient technical writer, understanding the rudiments of this craft and honing your soft and hard skills will pay off in the long run. We hope the tips we’ve shared with you above will help you land your first client as a technical writer.
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