7 Tips for Choosing the Best Technical Writer for Your Project

15 Mar 2022


If you’ve ever been tasked with writing technical documents for a diverse audience, you know that it’s not as simple as it sounds.

You are well versed in your area of expertise and could talk about it for days on end. But when it comes to explaining it to someone outside your field, you find that it’s much easier said than done.

That’s where hiring a technical writer pays off.

What does a technical writer do?

A technical writer creates documents such as user manuals, help files, instructional videos, white papers, press releases, newsletters, e-mail messages, and web pages. Hence, they may also be called instructional designers, instructional technologists, instructional specialists, instructional developers, instructional facilitators, or instructional consultants.

This professional writer usually works directly with a client to determine what information needs to be included in a document.

The writer then researches the subject matter and develops content based on the client's requirements.

Once the content is developed, it is presented to the client for review and approval.

Do I really need a technical writer?

There is an increasing demand for technical writers globally, and research shows that the demand for technical writers should grow by 7 percent between 2019 and 2029.

The need for technical writers is increasing because preparing a technical document can be quite tricky. Unfortunately, you may not have the resources to train your employees to perform this function. This means you will need to contract out the job to a qualified technical writer.

Here are some examples of situations where you might need a technical writer:

  • Your company sells products that require instruction.
  • Your company provides technical support for products that require instructions.
  • Your company produces instructional materials for use by other people.
  • Your company makes presentations to customers, suppliers, investors, or potential partners.
  • Your company wants to improve its image through advertising.
  • Your company wants to attract new customers.
  • Your company offers services to small businesses.
  • Your company is expanding into new markets.
  • Your company plans to sell more than one product.
  • Your company wants to expand its market share.
  • Your company sells software.
  • Your company uses technology to make sales calls.

What should I look for in a technical writer?

Undoubtedly, a good technical writer will create content that will boost your brand’s image and set you apart from your competition.

Because hiring a technical writer is a process that shouldn’t be taken lightly, we’ve put together seven tips to guide you in choosing the best technical writer.

1. Expertise

Choosing a technical writer who has worked in or written about your niche means they can create content that will suit your business perfectly.

In addition, their portfolios and previous writing experience will reveal their writing style and voice, which will help you determine if they are the best fit for your business.

Your ideal technical writer should be interested in your field, familiar with your subject matter, and have experience with similar projects. In addition, you need someone who can create compelling content for your target audience and drive traffic to your business.

2. Excellent Grammar Skills

Do not underestimate grammar skills in your quest for an ideal technical writer. You need someone who can string words together in a clear, accurate, and reader-friendly way.

Grammar is crucial for readability, credibility, clarity, and communication. Unfortunately, readers will find it hard to trudge through a work that is peppered with typos and grammatical errors.

Writers with poor grammar skills are not taking their craft seriously and will string words together haphazardly. But a professional technical writer with excellent grammar skills must have taken the time to master good grammar, which shows a level of commitment to the writing craft. Besides, a document with no grammatical errors will be more enjoyable to read.

3. Creativity

A technical writer must be creative to develop evergreen, unique content for your business.

They should be open to new ways of doing things and create content that stands out from the competition.

Since creativity opens the mind and keeps it active, creative writers will easily use their imaginations to develop creative thoughts, broaden their thought processes, enhance their logical skills, and improve their problem-solving abilities.

By using their creative skills, your ideal writer should be able to craft a decipherable, compelling, and engaging set of instructions out of otherwise complex information.

4. Knowledge

This is probably the most important quality to look for in a professional technical writer. Your ideal writer should be well informed about subjects relating to your specific niche. In addition, they must have enough knowledge of the subject matter to provide accurate information.

Industry-specific knowledge eases the process of understanding and conveying your tech-related information to your audience. This knowledge makes a technical writer more valuable and makes the writer’s work easier.

Hence, a good technical writer should improve their knowledge and skills by studying continuously.

5. Willingness to Learn New Skills

The ideal technical writer must be well-versed in your niche or willing to learn all there is to know about it. Willingness to learn shows that a writer is hardworking and passionate about getting your work done.

Therefore, you should hire a technical writer who is ready to learn new skills and has the tendency to challenge themselves continuously. This will make it easier for them to convey your complex technical information more straightforwardly.

A writer who demonstrates a willingness to learn new skills can take on more responsibilities to prove their commitment to your work. Such people are usually more motivated and have the self-discipline needed to meet your set goals.

6. Adaptability

Not all technical writers have a voice or style that matches your company’s vision. But a good technical writer should be able to adapt quickly and acclimatize to your specific needs.

This soft skill is not just a desired quality but a necessity for technical writers. You want to hire a technical writer who is versatile enough to learn new documentation tools, the latest technologies, and new ways of presenting technical information to your target audience.

For the sole purpose of creating meaningful content for your particular audience, a professional technical writer will readily adapt to new technology, guidelines, language, or standards instead of sticking to old ones.

7. Proficiency with Writing Tools

Technical writing has evolved since the days of using pen and paper.

As a result, there is a wide range of assorted tools or software you can work with to develop great content, format your document, and communicate information more effectively in today's digital landscape.

Although technical writing requires expertise, a technical writer armed with the best technical writing tools will help immensely. In addition, these tools have features that help improve the documentation process by making it easier and faster.

Some of the tools to look out for are grammar checkers like Grammarly and plagiarism checkers like Copyscape.

Final Thoughts

Effective technical writing presents information without necessarily attracting attention to itself. Because it is meant to express, not impress the reader, you will need to hire a technical writer who knows their onions.

A good technical writer is an enabler of information whose primary focus is to move your readers to take the desired action. Therefore, having the key features to look out for at your fingertips will go a long way in choosing someone who will help demystify your technical documents for your target audience.

Debbie Y. Tayo-Odeshilo  
Debbie has been working with clients for almost 10 years providing copywriting, editing, proofreading, rewriting, coaching, and content marketing services. She started her career as an ACCA Certified Accountant with a multinational where she developed an eagle eye for detail and zero tolerance for errors. However, her creativity needed expression, and she made a career change into Content Marketing & Communications. She now uses her skills, expertise, and passion to provide writing, editing, strategy, and marketing solutions to help brands and business owners gain more visibility and profit.

She enjoys life being a happy wife, and loving mom to an active toddler and a Lhasa Apso. She also loves being in nature, relaxing to gospel music, and soaking up family time.

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