Have you been burned by technical writers in the past – the ones with the ‘perfect’ resumes and ‘perfect’ disguises? This guide will help you determine the qualities to look for in the best technical writer and what websites you can use to find them.
In today’s time, a technical writer is more crucial than ever. Big companies such as engineering firms and IT companies need their ideas translated into simpler languages. They need to get their information across without making it too complex for their audience. A technical writer acts as a bridge between the company and the audience.
Technical Writers use their communication skills to make this complex information easier. When you look for a technical writer there are certain things you need to keep in mind.
Your writer should not only possess the necessary skills but also know how to apply these skills in the real work environment.
They should have the know-how of the documentation software being used and stay updated with any new trends arising.
Most importantly though, they need to be keen on learning and adapting. Technical Writers should be quick in research and have an undying urge for more information regarding the articles they are writing for.
Technical writers are responsible for creating journals, articles, manuals and other supporting documents to communicate complex concepts in the language specific to a certain type of audience.
When do you need a technical writer?
This is the same question as to why do you need a technical writer. Well, if you have any of the things mentioned in the list below, then you need a technical writer:
- You are a product head and want to streamline your development processes.
- There is an application you have and you want to guide your users on how to use it
- You are developing a large application and you want to support the developers with requirements and standards.
- You own a self-help education website and want tutorial articles.
- Any writing that involves complex programming knowledge or IT concept
When you are an employer or business that is in search of a technical writer the first step you will have to do is create an ad for the job. In this ad for a technical writer, you will explain the qualification and the skills you want your technical writer to possess.
When you decide “let’s hire a technical writer” before truly identifying your project needs concerning a technical writer, you might put more expense and operational costs on your company. There is a big chance that you might end up thinking “I think we need a freelance technical writer”, or even better “I think we should outsource technical writing”.
The Difference Between a Freelance Technical Writer and a Permanent Employee
When you are hiring a technical writer you will also have to consider, do you want a freelance writer or are you in search of a permanent employee to get your job done? Both come with advantages and disadvantages. There is no particular right answer to this. The type of position you want to offer your technical writer will depend upon your needs.
A large company may have a larger workload as compared to a smaller company. In such a case a permanent employee would be a better decision as they can do tasks urgently in the office.
Freelancers are a good option if you don’t necessarily have a big budget for your project. Permanent employees are considered to be more reliable than freelancers although you don’t have to provide many benefits to a freelance employee.
|Onsite Permanent Employee||Freelance Employee|
👍Easy to monitor and track
👍 Easy to collaborate and work in real-time
👍 No operations cost
👍 More productive, as they are targeted towards a goal for which they will be paid
👍 No fixed salary, you pay for the task only
👎 Operations cost like furniture, electricity, computers, software purchases, leaves, recreation, transportation, etc.
👎 Less productive, as they are already paid for the month
👎 Fixed salary, whether you have work for them or not
👎 Difficult monitoring and tracking
👎 Difficult to collaborate and wait for the turnaround to suggest edits and fixes
Step 1 – Create a Job Description
This section also answers the question “What makes a complete technical writer?”
Writing your job description makes sure that the employee’s duties align directly with your companies vision and views.
If you have a specific job description set, they can then also aid you in the interview process in coming up with questions that relate to these specifications. It is the first interaction the writer has with your company and you want to make sure that the position at your company is inviting.
The best idea is to google for technical writer job descriptions, or simply technical writer JD, and you will find a couple of job listing websites with elaborate job description. This is a shortcut way to quickly create a job description. However, technical writers are not like most graphic designs who seldom read details of the job description.
Technical writers read through the job description and therefore you will end up having 15 irrelevant resumes out of 20 due to irrelevant, copy-pasted job description.
Write down your needs for creating a job description
Your job description is the first thing a potential employee sees about your company, it should thus reflect your company and what it stands for, this description will then determine whether they are interested to look up the company. So, to help you get a set of important points, do the following. Think, deliverables.
- What deliverables you want for your project?
- Do you need user guides for your supporting your end-users?
- Your project needs requirements specifications or API documentation for your developers?
- Are you running a self-help education website and need tutorial articles?
- If you have a YouTube channel and need a software tutorial for your next video?
- Are you a tech giant and need to create a knowledge base for your customers?
Think about team and workload.
- Do you have a team of technical writers for different projects and want to add up a new resource?
- Or you are just looking for a person who can work on all forms of documentation in your company single-handed?
- Are you also planning to assign content writing tasks to a technical writer? Think again. You shouldn’t.
You might also be needing some tools for technical writing?
- SnagIt, greenshot or liteshot for screen capturing
- Adobe Captivate for recording application tutorials
- Adobe RoboHelp for creating help documents and knowledge base
- Draw.io or Microsoft Visio for concept diagrams and flow charts
- Microsoft Word for some light-weight documentation
- Microsoft PowerPoint for business presentations or training slides
Some extras to consider in a job description
One of the skills you might look for in your technical writer is some background in design as they may have to come up with concept diagrams to go alongside their writing.
Above all, you should be searching for someone willing to learn new things and adapt to any problems dilemmas or disputes that may come forth. The part that a technical writer plays in a company can be very diverse depending on the industry and the company itself.
The position means different things to different writers, which is why is it important to make your intentions and expectations clear from the get-go.
Some companies may only need their writer to create a specific type of content, like tutorials, and update them from time to time, while others may need their technical writer to gather feedback on the content, improve on it, create knowledge bases, information architecture, and take leads in generating all sorts of documentation ideas and ensuring execution.
Multimedia is another skill that some employers may be especially looking for while others don’t necessarily require it. They may want their technical writers to create and edit multimedia videos and audios for their content. However, others may only need their writer to stick to writing.
Summary of The Key Duties of a Technical Writer
It is important to make this section detailed enough to convey the duties but brief enough that the reader does not get confused or overwhelmed. You can also include what the best technical writer will have to do daily, these daily activities can help them determine the work environment and their daily expectations.
I recommend mentioning how their part plays a role in the overall company which will give them a sense of the bigger picture and their impact on the business. Values of the staff and company This should be attention-grabbing and unique which makes the reader excited to join the company.
It can also include a description of the company culture which will increase the number of applicants you receive.
Necessary Experience, Skill, and Qualification of a Technical Writer
There are 2 types of skills to keep in mind when making this list.
The second is the soft skills. This means that the technical writer must have an understanding of “process” and “information hierarchy”. They need to know that there is a process behind every single thing on earth, and they have to find that out behind your application as well.
Also, there are relationships between pieces of information, they also need to figure out these connections.
Speaking generally, as a technical writer in IT, it is good for your writer to have some knowledge about programming, networking, etc. as this will help them understand and write a better user manual or guide. In the fashion industry, if your writer has no clue of fashion, it can become extremely tedious to come up with accurate journals and articles. Similarly, the software and tools that a writer uses are of great importance.
It is obvious to be extremely capable in MS word but your writer should also know how to run other software such as MadCap Flare, RoboHelp or ClickHelp. If your company works with design, the writer should also know how to work in Adobe Photoshop, FastStone Capture, and Microsoft Visio. The second type is the soft skills, these include process-oriented approach, information architecting, problem solving, team player, and good communication skills.
Your writer not being aware of a particular software may not be a huge issue. However, not being willing to learn may cause hindrance to your project. Communication is key for any technical writer. They should be able to understand what you are looking for and interpret it exactly according to your needs.
Also, keep in mind not to list every single detail you expect in your employee. Adding too many requirements can discourage people from applying.
Tools That a Technical Writer Should Be Familiar With
Robo help is one of the most popular help authoring tools used by technical writers. They can use it to publish their documents online. It helps writers render their work and develop projects across different formats.
This software is more commonly used by businesses for knowledge-based articles and online help content. It has an extremely user-friendly software, which allows even new and unfamiliar writers to use it without any issues.
Madcap flare can be used by the writer to manage and create user guides, online help sites, reference materials, and many more documents. It also allows for cloud-based management, editing, and publishing.
This streamlines the entire workflow and ensures the maximum efficiency of a team. They even offer different translational tools that can be used to give your work an international approach.
Microsoft Visio can be used to make diagrams, flowcharts and any other designs that may be used in the content. It is a great tool for technical writers writing user manuals or guide books as they can have diagrams to aid their content.
On Visio you can even include real-time data that can alter your charts and diagrams along with the changing data. With office 365 multiple people can also work on the same project at one time.
Any Special Attributes Needed by the Employee
The special attributes can be specially tailored to your company and its needs. Depending on your company you might require your technical writer to possess some design skills. Or if you are an international company you might require your writer to know multiple languages.
Some technical writers might even be required to have some social media knowledge which can then help them target that specific audience.
Step 2 – Find a Freelance Technical Writer
Fiverr is a freelancing website where you can hire many types of writers. It is a fairly inexpensive way to find someone to work for you. It is most suitable for one time projects and is probably not the way to go if you are looking for a more long term writer.
The issue with the writers available on Fiverr is that although the writers on the platform are some of the best technical writers available, they are not being evaluated. One of the ways to find the best Fiverr Technical Writer for a technology project is to go through the profiles individually and vet the writer yourself using the feedback comments, ratings, etc.
Fiverr is a good option to find good skills for a relatively cheap price. The pay of a technical writing project on Fiverr ranges from $5 and goes upwards for $50 depending on the project.
How To Find The Best Technical Writer on Fiverr?
From the homepage, you can search the type of writer you are looking for.
For a technical writer, you can further refine your searches by using the filter menu on the left side of the page.
Here you can filter using the usual tags such as availability, time, budget, etc. however you can also make your searches more specific by adding the type of document you may have, the industry you need to write for, the level of the seller and even what you want their service to include.
For example, you may want your technical writer to include proofreading or references and citations in their work. These can also be mentioned when looking for a writer on Fiverr. To find a high-skilled technical writer on Fiverr for your technology project:
- Go to Fiverr.com.
- Enter “user manual” in the search bar, and press Enter.
- Select Technical Writing from the category.
- Expand the Services menu, and select “Technology” as the Industry.
Press Enter to display the search results according to your query.
You can turn on Online Sellers to see only those sellers (or technical writers) that you can quickly communicate your project requirements. There are very few such technical writers that are available for 24/7 communication, The Write Pick is one of such technical writing service providers.
Upwork is another global platform where employers can find both freelancers and agencies for their technical writing projects. We will soon be posting on why Upwork Technical Writing agencies are better for hiring instead of hiring freelancers.
Most of the technical writing agencies are available on Upwork deals with large scale clients and businesses. To see the credibility of a technical writing agency (or even a freelance technical writer) on Upwork you can quickly review the number of jobs a person has completed successfully and their employer’s reviews.
There are over 3 million jobs that are posted on upwork.com annually. This gives a large number of options to the employer to choose from.
The average hourly rate of a technical writing agency of freelancers on Upwork is between $15 to $60. Since the charges on Upwork are based on the time and instead of upfront project cost, it can motivate the Upwork technical writer to spend time and curate the best piece of writing possible. Even though the general rates on Upwork are higher, you get a more skilled agency or freelancer with more experience and more knowledge in return.
While finding an agency on Upwork, filters really matter, and the country filter is one of the most important filters.
How does Upwork work?
Upwork is fairly simple to use.
You start by creating a profile on the platform.
Here you’ll enter your details such as your business name, etc. after your profile is complete you can then create a job listing. In this listing you will mention, the project and details about it. It does not cost you anything to post an ad.
After the ad has been posted, freelance technical writers who see the ad will send you a proposal. You can then review and compare these proposals and interview the ones you prefer. You can share files nay any additional information through Upwork chat or video call. After the work has been completed you will get an invoice that you can then pay.
If you are searching for a technical writer there are some tags you can use to filter your searches to find a more specific technical writer.
Not only can you filter according to your location preference, but you can also filter price range, talent type, last activity and much more. One of the best filters to apply for a technical writer is to search for agencies instead of freelancers in talent type as they are established companies offering their services.
Let’s quickly see how you can find an Upwork technical writer.
- Go to upwork.com.
- Search for “technical content writing” – (most agencies are offering both content and technical writing services)
- Click Filters
- Under the Talent Type mark “Agencies”, and under Location enter “Pakistan”. Make sure you set “Technical Writing” as the Category.
- Close filters to see the results.
Freelancer is another website similar to Upwork and Fiverr. It works as a marketplace where freelance writers can get in touch with businesses looking for their services.
Freelancer is a more popular website with more than 16 million users worldwide. The prices for a technical writer on freelancers have an average of $39.49 per hour.
How to use freelancer?
Freelancer works like other freelancing websites.
You create your ad, review proposals and select the best one.
It is also really easy to be in contact with your writer while they are working on your project by chatting with them through the website. Their payment methods are also extremely secure and you only pay after you are satisfied with the work submitted.
Freelancer has many options that you can use to filter your results. You can search for specific keywords such as “technical writer”, “technical writing” and other similar keywords to get access to all related profiles. You can also filter these results depending on your budget, your required time, language or the skills you want your writer to have.
Contently offers premium technical writers for each client.
It curates its services to match the clients’ needs.
This platform is perfect for the business that doesn’t have any sort of budget constraint as the services they have are generally higher than the market rate.
They are also a good option for companies who have very specific niches such as financial niches Which are hard to find. Contently will work on any niche that you may present. They have a very high-profile client list such as google, Marriott, Walmart, JP Morgan Chase, and IBM.
How to use contently?
To get started with contently, you will have to visit their visit and speak directly with an agent. Since they customize all their projects, they don’t have any type of pricing available for their services.
The agent will then get back to you with a quote and connect you with your specific writer. They even have a dedicated support team that will guide you through any difficulties.
Step 3- Find an inhouse Technical Writer
Glassdoor is a website where former and current employers can review their employees and employees can review their companies. This is a great way to search for employees with a lot of experience in their fields.
The employees on glassdoor are usually extremely professional which is best for hiring for a permanent position. Since glassdoor also works as a job board, you can post an ad there and get a qualified technical writer. There were over 5919 listings for a technical writer last month in the USA.
The base pay for an average technical writer is about $60k a year. While this may be favorable to specific companies, most of the companies end up losing money by offering a permanent position rather than going for freelancing services.
Linkedin is essentially a social media platform but for professionals.it also has an option available now where companies can have job listings. It can be used to build up your connections and advance your company by building a network of contacts.
It is a great tool that potential employers can use to vet their potential candidates. Over 65 million professionals have accounts on Linkedin. With a job listing on Linkedin, you will be sure that your ad is reaching a group of professionals.
This is a great way to reach a broader spectrum for your business. Since the people on Linkedin are already professionals, it can be easier to find a permanent employee through their Linkedin page.
Indeed has a simple and easy process for the employers to hire a professional.
You just need an email address to create an account.
After your account has been created you post your ad. In your ad, you will include details about the position, location and what the job entails.
After the job has been posted you can use the tools provided by the website to find yourself the perfect candidate. Some of the tools indeed offer includes screener questions that they can use to test the skills of the applicants before applying.
This will allow you to weed out unsuitable candidates before the interview phase. You can then view the resume and message the candidates directly through indeed.
All technical writer jobs are filtered into a specific category so it makes potential employees search for the job easier. They also have a mobile app that increases the convenience of the hiring process. you can get notifications anytime someone applies and it is easily accessible through your phone.
So when you are searching for a technical writer for your company, no matter what industry, it is important to keep these tricks in mind.
They will help you refine your search and help you target employees of a different variety. There are multiple ways a permanent technical writer can help generate a wider audience to your page. And if you are looking to do the same job cheaper with professional technical writers, visit the write pick and get your quote today!0