6 Proven Tips to Become a Technical Content Writer

March 18th 2020
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@amritaAmrita Angappa

I am a Hubspot and SEMRush certified Technical Content Writer with a flair for words.

How did it all start?
"Do you deal with technical manuals?" No.
"Do you have to know coding?" No.
"Do you read the latest technology news and rewrite it completely?" No.
"Are you into technical journalism?" No.
Every technical content writer comes across these questions. Well, why should I be writing this blog? Because I am a technical content writer myself. It is a designation sprouting out among startups and a handful of MNCs in recent days.
Well, let me share the backstory.
I have always been this backbencher with a flair for bunking classes. I was never a nerd. I used to open my book only a day before the exam.
My story is like the majority of the engineering students who entered this domain without any real motivation.
But, I was a gadget freak. I loved to read about the latest apps. I install it, check it in-and-out and write reviews on it. It was fascinating to read about innovative electronic gadgets like the smart cooker and robot vacuum cleaners.
Besides that, writing was my love, passion and life in college. It went to such an extent that I used to be writing poems during my math lecture.
In my college, I had a friend who always explained every hard concept in the form of stories to all of us, a couple of hours before the exam. By the way she explained, we were able to visualize how those microprocessors and semiconductors function.
Many of us cleared the exams, thanks to her storytelling skill set. That sparked the fire within me to pursue a career in writing, with storytelling and simplicity as the driving force behind my content.
The power of storytelling in the tech industry
In an individual's life, stories play a prominent role. From the day of his birth, his first day at school, how he bagged the best employee award, how he proposed his lady love, the birth of kids, retirement and until the last day of his life, everything has a story behind it.
Why not fuse storytelling with technology? Why not speak about the fascinating story behind how technology functions? It can be how smart ledgers operate in Blockchain technology or how AI is changing the course of Supply chain management. Why not let it reach the mainstream audience, away from the tech conferences or laboratories? That led me to become a technical content writer.
How was my experience as a technical content writer?
I have written an extensive arena of technical content. They range from gadget and technology reviews, technical journals to well researched blogs. Be it SEO-oriented blogs or demystifying the algorithms, it has been a holy ride! I enjoyed working on different projects. My way of researching would be understanding the basic functioning of technology and going forward with the other steps.
Let's say that I am supposed to work on a technical blog on the evolution of machine learning. I would look into where machine learning was used, which companies are currently using it, how the technology evolved with time and other factors. I would have a talk with the subject matter experts pertaining to the topic. This would happen by preparing a set of questions to ask them. Making lot of handwritten notes is my favorite writing habit.
Then I would structurize and format the article by segregating it into many blocks ranging from introduction to conclusion. I ensure that I put my 100% when I jot down the content. I would then thoroughly proof check the article for grammatical errors and plagiarism. Then I would send it to my team for review. Once the article is published, I would make a note on the performance of the blog by looking through the metrics.
So far, I have written over 150+ technical blogs on many technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Big Data, Data Science and much more.
What do Technical Content Writers actually do?
No, we do not write those technical manuals or carry out documentation related tasks. Those are the tasks governed by technical writers.
There is a mammoth difference between a technical content writer and technical writer.
Like any other content writer, we do focus on copywriting, UI/UX, website content, storytelling, SEO and other vital factors. But we do not really handle any documentation-related work.
The difference between a regular content writer and technical content writer would be the way they master the technology. We are tech guys who do not code, but have updated knowledge about what is currently happening in the tech-front, be it Deep learning or Bitcoins. Unlike technical writers, we blend our creativity to create the most compelling story on the technology we are writing about.
For example, you can find me referring about "The Matrix" on my blog on Artificial Intelligence. I might be speaking about the complex character of Joker aka Arthur Fleck on my article on cyber security. Sounds interesting, isn't it? That's how our job is.
Technical content writers focus on bringing the tech product to the homes of the people. We weave tech stories in the form of blogs, whitepapers, E-books and much more. We demystify the complex technical jargons into simple, colourful words.
Any industry would demand these basic skills from a technical content writer:
  • Top-notch Grammar and Vocabulary
  • Great grasp over the technology you are dealing with
  • Ability to identify the Key Point Indicators (KPIs) of the performance of the content and work accordingly
  • Interviewing skill set since you would require to talk to subject matter experts frequently
  • Impeccable writing skills with a flair for converting technical jargons into simple words
  • Be a master storyteller
What does it take to become a Technical Content Writer?
It is no rocket science. You need to possess an avid interest to learn more about the current affairs in the technology. Your primary interest should be on storytelling and simplifying the complex technical terminologies. Nobody likes to read an article full of tech jargon which might seem like Latin and Greek for the normal audience. You should be someone with an unquenchable thirst for research and learning.
Technology does not get depleted. Every day, every hour, ever there is a new innovation happening. Your learning curve shouldn't cease at any point in time. Hence make sure that you are on the right track by updating yourself on the current trends and topics.
How to train yourself to become a technical content writer?
I have been there, done that. From my experience, these six vital points might help you build a robust career in technical content writing:
Choose your niche: All you need to do is choose your favourite technology. It can be AI, ML, Big Data, Cloud computing or anything for that matter. Then you need to build a strong base on the fundamental concenpts in those technologies. Do not choose to follow the crowd. Find which domain captivates you the most. Start writing on it.
Create the best portfolio ever: Initially, it doesn't require you to submit your articles and blogs on bigger publications. With experience and practice, you would eventually get there. Writing on Medium, Quora and LinkedIn would suffice, if you are just venturing out.
Understand the technical terms: Yes, you need to write it in simple words. But as Leonardo Da Vinci says, "Simplification is the ultimate sophistication." To simplify the jargons, you need to be someone with a clear grasp of the technology. Keep learning regularly to achieve that feat.
Practice the art of storytelling: Getting a salesperson to read about Natural Language Processing (NLP) isn't a smoothie ride. When you persuade them to read your tech article, the last thing they would want is dealing with an article with a lot of techie terms and unstructured format. Let your content flow like a river. According to Sherry Gray in Entrepreneur, a successful content writer would keep mastering different style of writing. At present, storytelling is the hot cake. Keep honing your storytelling skill to catch your audience at the hook of the seat. Got a story to tell about how Microchips work? Tell it in such a way that a Grade 6 student would find it captivating.
Keep writing, every single day: According to eMarketer, 60% of marketers would be creating at least one content every day. Such is the demand for content in 2020! Writing isn't a job. It is a way of life. Like any other art form, it requires constant practice. The way I write in my Grade 12, the way I write now and the way I will write after 20 years would not be similar. It would be different altogether. So, write daily, whenever you get time.
Stay updated: You do not become a technical content writer in a day. Update yourself with what is currently happening in the market. To know more about that, take a look at the topics that those recent tech conferences are talking about. Talk to tech experts to know what's happening. This way, you will understand where you need to focus.
Apart from the above mentioned 6 tips to become a better technical content writer, remember these 2 add-ons, like forever:
Take criticism positively: Not every client would love your blog. You might have those blue days when you doubt your ability to write technical content. It is always good to have a mindset where you take constructive feedback positively. Understand why your client or manager is not satisfied with your work. Take it easy. It happens. Work according to the demands of your audience by making note of constructive criticism and improvising constantly.
Learn how to format your article: So, you have written a blog which is simple to understand. But it would get messy when you put a 1000 word blog under a single paragraph. Any content writer should know how to segregate different sub-topics in a content. Learn about the usage of bulletin points and when to put your content under the H1, H2, H3 headings. This would increase your readability score. Try to use Hemingway editor to check all these factors.
How to earn a livelihood as a technical content writer?
Technology is booming. Every day, you see disruptions in every industry. Kudos to the technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and Data Science, we have more solutions for the problems we faced for thousands of years in our day-to-day life.
To communicate about the current trends in the industry and explain how the technology works, we need a strong technical content writer. The pay grade is also extremely good and if you have the right skill set, you can earn in millions.
You can either work as a full-time content writer or a freelancer. You can find a plethora of tech content writing projects in websites like Freelancer and UpWork. Start bidding over there. Make the best use out of LinkedIn. It is the best platform for every business professional. You would find 'n' number of technical content writers willing to support you. Start being a part of the community rather than a lone wolf. There are also a few technical content writer forums where you can remain active. Make the best use out of it.
To sum it up
If you wish to be a part of this field, well and good! Kick start your journey today!
Honing up your storytelling skills constantly and learning regularly about the technologies that are disrupting the entire world would take you to places when you are a technical content writer.

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