9 Attributes To Look For in a Skilled Technical Writer in 2019

Yasmita Kumar

Yasmita Kumar

The need for strong content to drive a business forward has increased rapidly over the past few years. This age of unprecedented interconnectivity has brought with it a platform for organisations where they can share information through blog posts, statistics, white papers and even conversing with them over social media –  thus closing the communication gap between businesses and their consumers. T

This development certainly has its advantages in enabling businesses to connect and listen to their customers’ voices directly. The downside to this is that because social media is an open platform, everyone else can see it too. This isn’t ideal, especially if a tweet complaining about customer service appears. However, the necessity of a constant flow of content has created widespread opportunities for writers across the world.

It’s easy to overlook the fact that content creators are skilled professionals. Many individuals think that just because they know how to write, they could equally churn out an excellent copy. While this may work, in many cases it will only work for a short while, before they slowly begin to see themselves falling behind their competitors. This is because the level of writing would not be of the same sustained standard as a skilled technical writer. A competent technical writer is called that for a reason: they understand the subject matter and can produce content of an engaging and emotive manner quickly.

In the vast pool of writers available today, it’s hard to know what kind of copywriters will best suit the content that you’re looking for. There are many different types of writers too, all of whom work in different ways. Some writers are focusing on creative writing while others are more technical, for instance. Either way, there are some attributes that all skilled professional writers have and here’s what you need to look out for when hiring one:

1. Adaptability

One of the main attributes of a writer is their adaptability in producing copy for different mediums. The positioning of the content plays a big part in the way that it’s written. For example, material for a website landing page would be short and designed to persuade the reader with a call-to-action. 

Here’s an example for Shopify:

Shopify landing page

Content for blog posts would be longer and more conversational in comparison to a white paper, which is usually information-heavy and is written in a more professional tone. The need for adaptability in writing would be due to different audiences consuming content. The writer needs to understand the tone of voice and business branding to adapt his/her writing effectively.

2. Strong research skills

Researching topics is a big part of being a technical writer. It’s not always the case that an author’s subject matter is their specialism. This is why research comes first. By having good research skills, writers can add credibility and value to the organisation they’re writing for.

As mentioned above, they may not know much about a particular subject area, but with the ability to study and plan their content efficiently, writers can produce expert copy that fits perfectly with the goal. After having done the research, it’s essential that the writer can identify the needed data – retaining only accurate, reliable information. This makes for cleaner, more precise content.  

To research and come up with topic ideas, use tools like CoSchedule Headline Analyzer

CoSchedule

Ahrefs Keyword Explorer can be used to carry out keyword research and identify the phrases people would generally use to find your content. 

3. Understand SEO

A solid understanding of SEO is a significant quality to look for in a skilled writer. When writing about specific topics, it’s essential to know what’s trending within the industry. By learning and understanding what’s current and what the industry experts are talking about, the writer can incorporate key points of interest in the content. The writer can combine SEO-friendly titles and descriptions as well as including relevant and semantic keywords. 

Use tools like Google Trends to identify what’s currently trending:

Google Trends

Although SEO is a complicated topic to fit in a single article, there are plenty of SEO resources you can use to get started.

4. Organisation skills

Being organised is an essential part of being a skilled technical writer. It seems quite apparent and is not the only profession in which it’s necessary, but as a writer, deadlines can get on top of you. The necessity of keeping in control of deadlines and to be able to cope with demanding workloads have to be something they can manage without needing management to help.

Creating an editorial calendar can help them stay on top of their work, giving the process enough time for proofreading to be carried out in time for publishing. Being organised also means that the writer will be able to complete more work in the timeframe that they’re given – which can often work out more cost effective for the business.

Content Schedule

Image Source: CoSchedule

5. Ability to focus

Writing good quality content requires focus, which can sometimes be hard to find. It’s good to find a writer that can continue creating high levels of content in a distracting environment, such as open-plan office space. It’s easy for attention spans to shift in these situations with many different people from different departments all working in different ways and on different things. This is why it’s vital to hire technical writers who understand how to focus best in certain situations, especially when working on larger projects.

6. Meeting deadlines

The ability to meet deadlines is imperative when it comes to a technical writer. They must have the ability to not only be organised, but also ensure they can meet the deadlines that have been set for them. The writer must stay in tune with their capabilities and be aware of their own pace of writing.

Not meeting deadlines can be damaging for any business which is why it is vital that the writer understands his/her working habits and understands the boundaries. Excellent time management, reliability and a realistic outlook on work is a must. The ability to deliver high-quality content promptly will show professionalism and reliability of the brand.

7. Communicate

Communication is key for just about any job role – and none more so than when it comes to technical writing. One of the reasons for this is because the writer must be able to communicate with you any questions or queries they may have. If they are working on a particular topic that they don’t understand well enough, the content may not come out as expected. This, in return, can cost a lot of time and money to fix. It’s wise to make it clear that writers can approach you with any question or worries they have in order to prevent any wrongdoings.

Utilising communication tools like Slack can be a solution to the potential problem. 

Slack

8. Ability to edit

It can be a long and tedious process, but don’t forget that it’s an integral step in the path towards great content. Editing is very time consuming, and the writer sometimes has to go through many drafts before being satisfied. Make sure your writer is prepared for this and talk them through your drafting process. They would also need to have the ability to spot-check their work to mitigate as many errors as possible.

A large part of writing is the editing process and with it comes suggestions, criticism and corrections that may differ from what the writer had previously written. Make sure your writer understands that editing is an essential act and that any creative differences shouldn’t be interpreted as negative feedback.

9. Quality

It’s crucial that the content produced by the writer is of good quality. The amount of competition today means that you are continually fighting with rival companies for your audience exposure. If a piece is well-written, the chances are that the audience will understand it and on some occasion even share it on their social media platform if it’s relevant enough. Quality work also shows what your organisation is about for those who weren’t already aware of it. It’s the first impression they get of you in most cases. As we know, good first impressions are essential, especially when it comes to retaining and gaining customers – which is why it’s important to get it right.

There’s nothing embarrassing in using various grammar checkers to make sure you aren’t making that type. Tools like Grammarly can certainly be of help. 

Grammarly

These nine desirable attributes for a skilled technical writer will enhance your business’s content, and over time increase your audience size.

As you’re no doubt aware, experienced writers can vary with the amount of industry experience. It’s not always the best idea to go with a writer just based on their experience because their writing style may be different from what you’re looking for. However, if you’re after a writer for a niche industry, it may be best to go with a writer with experience as the learning curve may be too steep for those outside the industry – which may end up costing you time and money.

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Yasmita Kumar

Yasmita Kumar

Copywriter

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