What is Technical Writing: The Ultimate Guide 2021
For all aspiring writers looking to make a career in writing, this is an imperative article for you.
There are many fields in writing, from being a poet to being a blogger, and the list goes on. With so many fields, there are so many careers in writing as well. A very popular field in writing is Technical Writing.
In this write-up, we will be discussing everything about technical writing, its scope, and everything else you need to know about it.
What is Technical Writing
If I were to define technical writing in simple words, it is just a way to explain complex terms thoroughly.
You see, whatever happens around us, whether it’s natural or artificial, uses very complex processes. These processes are so complex that a normal human mind can’t interpret them.
For example, if you ask a pure scholar about black holes, chances are, you are going to get a bunch of equations and everything that you will never really understand unless you have some knowledge of black holes and science. Just like that, if you ask an engineer at some ivy-league tech company about AI, all you will get is many codes and terms you won’t be able to understand.
That is why we have technical writers in place that explain all of these complex processes and terms that the masses can interpret.
In the early days, technical writing was just limited to manuals and software books. However, now that it is changing rapidly, people are more eager to know how complex stuff works.
In modern times, technical writing is the process of documenting complex processes. Ultimately anything that involves technical information comes under technical writing.
Technical Writing and Business Writing
A lot of people associate technical writing with business writing. Now they might share some common features, but technical writing at the core is different than business writing.
However, one can say that technical writing is a subset of business writing. The scope of business writing is much broader compared to technical writing.
Additionally, for technical writing, the writer needs to know the subject they are writing. Technical writing involves explaining complex terms, processes of a particular subject. To do that, the writer must know in and out about the processes and terms on which they are working.
What is the Goal of Technical Writing?
The prime goal of technical writing is to pass on the crucial information and insights that the readers can interpret. Once the readers have solid data and information about what they are looking for, they can implement some real changes.
Technical writing is generally used by companies to the in-depth details explaining the internal procedures, design and produce products, implement processes, sell products and services to other businesses, or define policies. It is seldom used for the general audience.
Scope of Technical Writing
To define the scope of anything, there is no better way than just presenting the field’s data and insights. Well, it turns out that technical writing, despite its very particular audience, is still a very highly coveted skill.
Here are what the numbers indicate:
The data indicates that the demand for technical writers is expected to grow 7% from 2019 to 2029.
This is faster than average as compared to other occupations. To understand the scope of technical writing, you need to understand where it is needed the most. So technical writing is most required in tech fields. We will discuss more the industries that require technical writers below.
However, for now, you need to understand that technical writing is required where technology exists. Simply putting: it is required in every field.
The growth is more because of Machine Learning, Big Data, AI, and other technological innovations. So technology and technical writing have a direct healthy relationship.
With every leading industry inclining more towards technology to get the work done efficiently, the scope of technical writing is also broadening.
The job as a technical writer also comes with good pay.
“Data from 2020 suggests that you can earn about USD 74,650 per year as a technical writer.”
Overall, it is a good field and can be a stable career option for anyone who has good knowledge in a technical field and loves to write.
What Technical Writers Do?
This must make you wonder what a day-to-day professional life of a technical writer looks like, right?
Well, this is where the technical writers are a bit different than regular writers. Regular writers from other fields have the poetic license to use language in a way that suits them. They are not required to explain every step and process with exact details. They can use imagery, imagination, everything else in their writing.
On the other hand, a technical writer must have an outstanding understanding of language, excellent vocabulary, superior writing and communication skills. A technical writer doesn’t get the liberty of being carried away by the illusion of writing. They must stick to the given topic and only provide the relevant details about it.
Only then a technical writer can create a professional and error-free piece of work. It is important for it to be written in a professional manner and error-free as the content is crucial in building credibility with the readers. Without credibility, there is no point in technical writing.
Some Examples of Technical Writing
You might get better clarity through some examples of technical writing. Well, these are some of the examples of technical writing:
- White papers
- Technical Emails
- Cases Studies
- Technical Proposals
- API Documentation
- Product Descriptions
- Press Releases
- Executive Summaries
- Web Content
- Balanced Scorecards
- UI text and more
You see, as a technical writer, you can write about a lot of things. Now some examples on the list are quite common, and if you are a writer already, the chances are that you have had experience working on it at some point in your professional career as a content writer.
The key to success here is finding out the industry you are working for and then understanding the type of technical content that will help your company/organization grow. The growth of the industry for which you are working ensures your growth too. Along with that, you also have many different niches in technical writing that you can work on.
So to briefly answer the question, which is what technical writers do? Well, they write technical content that is crucial for the industry’s growth and provides good insights into the complex processes that happen around us.
A Career in Technical Writing
As mentioned earlier, the demand for technical writers is increasing, and industries now know their importance. You can have a great career in technical writing with your own office and a team if you play your cards right. Well, to become a technical writer, you need to acquire the skillset for it first. Here are some of the basic and must-have skills for any technical writer:
Skills for Technical Writing
For writing in any field, you need good writing skills. Now that becomes more important when you are in the field of technical writing. In this field, you don’t have the liberty to use irrelevant data or use your wordplay skills. Everything needs to be professional, to the point.
It is easy for some writers than others. Writers with an analytical approach to writing have a better command over technical writing as they can put the facts and process in a simplified and organized manner.
One of the crucial goals of technical writing is to be error-free. To achieve that status, you need more data. And when I say more data, it means a huge amount of data on the topic you are writing on.
To get more data, you need to learn how to conduct deep and thorough research. Your research should stretch across many types, including articles, blogs, case studies, polls, interviews, etc. With good research, you get more credible data, which helps enhance the credibility of your content.
Good Communication Skills
The thing with writing is that it is never just limited to the writing process itself. As mentioned earlier, as a technical writer, you will be working with teams frequently, and to convey your message effectively, you must have good communication skills.
Ability to Understand Your Audience
The technical writing field is very specific in terms of audience. The content for one group of audience is often totally irrelevant for the other group. That is why it is your job as a technical writer to understand your target audience carefully. That is the only way you will deliver the expected content that is useful to your target readers or audience.
From the mentioned details, we can be clear that technical knowledge is certainly the key skill you will need for technical writing. Jack of all trades and master on none does not work in the field of technical writing.
For example, If you are writing white papers on AI, you must have good knowledge of AI. If you do not understand the thing for which you are hired, you will have a brief career as a technical content writer.
Use of Digital Resources
As a technical writer, it would be ironic if you do not use digital resources to enhance your writing. Using the digital resources at your dispense to make your content easily available online and printable is something you should learn. Then other tools can help you to present your content in a much better way.
Industries That Need Technical Writers
Here are some of the few industries in which you can work as a technical writer without any problem:
- Finance Markets: Here, you can work as a market analyst, present executive summary briefs, plan educational content
- IT: Tutorials, How-to guides, FAQs, software documentation, reports, white papers, etc.
- Medicine: Pharmaceutical and regulatory documents, scientific articles, educational materials, and technical documentation for software and equipment.
- Government and NGOs: Press releases, campaign videos, notices, etc.
- Manufacturing and Supply Chain: Explaining processes, how to improve processes, content pieces on new developments.
- Insurance: Explanations of complex topics, explanations of legal topics.
Becoming a Technical Writer
Now comes the million-dollar question: How to become a technical writer?
Well, you need the skillset, of course. Along with the skillset, you also need expertise on the topic on which you are writing. Once you do that, you can start your journey in the field of technical writing.
One of the very confusing and common questions is: Do I Need a Special Degree for a Technical Writer?
Let’s answer and put this confusion to rest for good. Here is the answer: NO!
You do not necessarily need any special degree/diploma to pursue technical writing. Since every detail about technical writing is available on the web, it won’t be very difficult for someone to learn the craft. However, one is required to know what are the terminologies and practices involved in technical writing in order to look things up on the web related to the topic.
The information on the web is available in bits and pieces and one needs to have a good hold over the fundamental or base aspects of technical writing to be able to search those things. For those who are pure beginners, it is advised that they shall go for courses and resources available on the web.
Yes, there are several courses that are designed and structured in a way that they provide complete guidance around the topic. One such course is the IIM SKILLS content writing master course. The institute happens to be very renowned and recognized among the best courses in the world when it comes to content writing. There are solid facts and proof that clearly suggest the reasons behind this institute being the best in India and abroad as well.
Let’s start with the Founder
The visionary who led IIM SKILLS to turn it into one of the most top-rated institutes offering content writing courses is none other than the Founder, Mr. Vaibhav Kakkar, himself. He is quite a known figure when it comes to content writing as is listed among the best content writers in the world.
He has been in the content writing industry for over 10 years now and has helped thousands of students master the craft of content writing through the IIM SKILLS Content writing master course. Not only content writing, but the institute has now expanded its offerings to several other professional courses like GST course, Digital Marketing Course, CAT coaching, etc.
If you’re really interested in learning about technical writing from scratch starting from what is technical writing to what are the career aspects in it, the course offered by IIM SKILLS might just be the best choice for you. Let’s make it a little more clear by understanding more in detail about the institute.
- About the Institute
To date, IIM SKILLS has managed to train over 10,000 students from more than 30 countries. Yes, you read that right. IIM SKILLS as an institute holds an international presence and students from all over the world prefer the courses and training offered by the institute.
As one of the finest providers of content writing courses and other courses, IIM SKILLS has been dominating the education industry for a reason. The students have absolutely loved the quality of training and assistance they received through the courses.
Moreover, the features and facilities offered to the students are quite commendable, making the course a very desirable option for aspiring content writers and technical writers to learn exactly what is technical writing and the details of it. Let’s learn a bit about the features that make IIM SKILLS one of the best technical writing courses out there.
- Expert Assistance
The institute has some of the finest trainers who are experienced professionals. These professionals have a very good grip over the craft of content writing and have actually worked with some of the biggest companies in the world providing assistance with quality content that brings good audience attention online. These professionals are now dedicated to providing guidance to thousands of aspiring content writers through this course.
Many of the student’s testimonials and reviews are directed towards trainers since most of the time it is an appreciation for the trainer’s considerable efforts and way of guiding that makes the students feel valued and thus helps them learn better.
Expert assistance is certainly one of the reasons why you must pay attention to the content writing course details of IIM SKILLS if you’re genuinely willing to learn what is technical writing and everything around it.
- Course Content and Modules
Now here it gets interesting. If you pay attention to the course modules, you’ll realize that it is very relevant to the requirements of the ones aspiring to learn what is technical writing and become technical writers. The course consists of modules that will guide the students through over 15 types of content writing
The modules do cover some really important aspects of content writing such as keyword research, content writing tools, and more. There are a total of 12 modules through which the entire content writing training will be provided. Each one of the modules focuses specifically on a set number of skills or content writing practices.
If you are genuinely willing to learn what is technical writing and if there’s a good chance for you to build a career as a technical writer, then you must consider going through the details of this course.
Even if you manage to learn what is technical writing and all the other skills and knowledge related to it, in order to be able to build a career you need to be convincing enough for the client or the employer to provide you the job. Well, how do you appear desirable to the clients or employer? The answer is, through a certification.
A recognized certification is what confirms that the student or a candidate has been through formal training and is thus a potential employee or person for the job. IIM SKILLS offers two very valuable and internationally recognized certifications that will make it easier for you to get through job applications and interviews as well.
The two certifications are the IIM SKILLS Content Writing Master Course Certification and the other is HubSpot Content Marketing Certification. Both of them are internationally recognized, meaning, the students will be able to make use of the certifications irrespective of which corner of the planet they belong to.
Considering the details till now, it very much looks like a perfect course for those who are willing to learn what is technical writing.
- Placement Assistance
Most of the people who look for such courses or join such training programs intended to build a career in the industry. The primary option for the majority of aspiring technical writers is to find a job that provides them with a decent payout and growth opportunity as well.
IIM SKILLS has a dedicated placement cell that consistently looks for placement opportunities and notifies the students about the same. Although the course doesn’t guarantee a job, it does provide you the needed assistance and guidance that will help you find and crack the perfect placement opportunity.
On top of that, the students have the opportunity to go through a guaranteed internship program of 3 months where they get to work on actual industry projects and gain experience. Upon completion of the 3-month internship at IIM SKILLS the students will be provided with the certification that will help them find jobs as an experienced candidates.
Moreover, you’ll be learning and observing the industry processes while performing all the content writing practices that you learned through the course. This will help you become more comfortable with handling projects and assignments when you find an actual full-time content writing job.
So, not only for you to learn what is technical writing but also to build a career around it, this course seems a fairly good choice to consider.
- Case Studies
It is very important to have real-life examples as references to understand the effect of certain practices and concepts when it comes to content writing and content marketing. Understanding, how content has helped several companies create a strong online presence for themselves and build a much-needed foundation for their marketing will help you learn the chronology of how a piece of content can contribute to the marketing aspects of any company.
The course consists of 2 case studies and these might give you good deep insights into learning and understanding what is technical writing. One of the case studies is around affiliate marketing and the other is around content marketing giveaway campaigns.
These case studies have been prepared to ensure that the students understand the practical aspects of the course. This allows the students to understand the depth of the course and thus makes it more comprehensive in nature.
Digital tools are a blessing for content writers and digital marketers, especially for technical writing where there is a need for good research around the topic. At this point in time, we have several tools that can scrape data from millions of websites in a matter of seconds and you’ll be able to use that data to your advantage for research purposes, deciding content layout and structure, predicting the competitive nature of a keyword and so on.
These tools are not very difficult to learn or understand, however, their applications in the world of content writing and digital marketing are marvelous. Through this content writing master course at IIM SKILLS, the students get to learn about the applications and operations of such tools.
There are several tools that every single person associated with the content writing or digital marketing industry in any way shall be aware of and IIM SKILLS guide the students about such tools to help them keep up with the progressing industry standards.
- Alumni Status
The alumni status of any institution speaks a lot about the nature of the institute. Ever since the organization was established, it has managed to train hundreds of batches and among all the students who successfully completed the course, a good majority is now working very successfully at some of the finest companies in the world.
Many students got placed at companies like BMW, Accenture, KPMG, Barclays, American Express, and more, and a lot of them were able to start working as full-time freelancers and few others used the knowledge to scale their businesses.
Not to mention, there are so many students who were able to scale successful careers as technical writers in the industry.
The reviews of IIM SKILLS clearly suggest that the institute has managed to do a commendable job when it comes to training students and aspiring content writers and digital marketers. The reviews are literally floating all over the web on several platforms. May it be Quora, TrustPilot, Google Reviews, etc, everywhere you will be able to find reviews of courses by students.
You may also read the review of the IIM SKILLS content writing course here. In fact, this video would guide you through the very details of the course
Now the other question arises is that how can I start my career in technical writing? All you need to do is showcase your work by writing and reach out to leads on both online platforms and offline.
To find jobs, you should look on platforms like LinkedIn, Upwork, Fiver, etc. In fact, as a beginner, you can also look out for jobs on Facebook Groups.
It is important to note that your time and hard work are worth every single penny. The 2020 data suggests that technical writers make around USD 35 per hour. So make sure you get your worth. No matter the circumstances, you should not work underpaid.
Freelance vs. Full-time Employee
This is also a confusing decision for many. Well, in the beginning, it is good to work as a freelancer. As a freelancer, you can work with multiple clients in multiple niches. This helps you in finding the one you are interested in and good at.
Once you find your niche and gain good experience, you can approach companies for a full-time position. Your portfolio from freelancing will help in landing you a good job. However, it’s just an opinion, and you should do whatever you feel is good.
Tips to Improve Your Technical Writing
Apart from the skills, here are some tips that will improve your technical writing and help you become a better technical writer overall.
Focus on Your Audience
I can’t stress this point enough. To become a successful technical writer, you need to understand your target audience. Ask the important questions and work on them: What does the reader want to know? How is this information relevant to my audience? Who am I writing for?
If you are writing an instruction manual, these questions change drastically: Do my readers need protective gear to do this? How long will it take?
You see, the questions change drastically when you change the subject. So make sure you are asking yourself the right questions and writing accordingly.
“Knowledge is Power” – Sir Francis Bacon
The more knowledge you have, the better and accurate content you can create. In technical writing, you can’t use filler words and spin the content around. You need to be accurate and present as many impactful points as you can. This is where the knowledge comes into play. The more knowledge you have, the better points you can make out of it.
Ultimately these points are going to decide the impact your content will have on the users. Once you know everything about a topic you are working on, you can easily explain it in layman’s terms, which is what technical writing is about.
This is something that you can apply other fields to, and that includes writing as well. You become better at writing as you consider reading more and more books. The books, articles, blogs, videos, etc., are just tons of collections of sentences. Reading gives you a strong sense of framing sentences, vocabulary, and sentence structure different authors use.
This improves the creative process and gives you many ideas on how to start your content, structure it, and ultimately write it effectively. So, just read every new development in your field and outside it as well.
Plan Your Structure
An organized structure helps you in distributing the word count and plan your content effectively. This is something exclusive to technical writing. The word count matters here. You have to use brevity, and for that, you need a good structure.
Establish a Connection
As a technical writer, you are the mediator between complex technical terms and humans who will understand them. So to ease the process, you need to establish a human connection that is straight and trustworthy. Could you not make it a robotic conversation? Use the human aspect and make it more like a real conversation in which you are trying to explain something.
Create a Good Layout
Most of the content these days goes online, and to ensure that everything is presented in the good and correct order, you need a layout.
No matter how good your text is, without a fine layout, it will all crumble. Just ensure that everything you have written is presented properly.
Use Relevant Examples
The use of examples is crucial for connection. When you use examples, everything becomes a little bit more relatable. This helps in establishing trust as well as provides proof that your content is legit.
Examples are even important if you are writing some how-to guides as they help lay out the practical scenarios that a user can easily understand.
Optimize Your Content
A lot of technical content goes online, and that is why it is by default competing for rankings in the SERPs whether you want it or not.
If you wish to rank your content at the top in the SERPs(Search Engine Result Pages), you need to optimize it for specific relevant keywords. This is means you have to make quality content as well as optimize it for the website.
Write, Read, Rewrite, Repeat
This is a tip for every writer out there, not just the technical ones. Once you finish the writing, don’t just proofread it with tools for errors. Read it again and see if you can improve it. This means to change some sentences, remove jargon, add something more. So write, read, rewrite, repeat until you feel that the content is good to go.
Now the important thing here is to know your limit. As a writer, it is very hard to get the “perfect” piece. So don’t be a perfectionist. Just make sure that your content looks professional and is error-free.
Feedback is Gold
Honest feedback about your work is as valuable as gold. Make sure that you seek feedback from the readers who read your content. Also, ask your superiors about how they like your content. Once you have the feedback, you can assess and lookout for the things that need change.
As they say, one is never too good to improve. Allowing feedback and acting upon the necessary weaknesses can help you improve exponentially well.
So that was all about what is technical writing and what you must do in order to master the craft and build a career around it. I hope this article helps you become a successful technical writer in whatever niche you decide. The field has a good scope, and the payout is great as well. With good skills, you can become a great technical writer and earn really well.