How to hire technical writers
Product manuals, user guides, and white papers won’t write themselves. If you’re looking for a freelancer who can help you take advanced technical topics and make them sensible to the masses, a technical writer can help.
Whether you have your technical content already written—say, by an engineer at a manufacturing company who isn’t a writer by trade—and all you need is someone to edit it for clarity or a broader audience, or you need a technical piece written from scratch, the key to a successful project is a clear, thorough creative brief.
What goes into a successful project brief? Here are a few things to consider including:
- Background information. What is your company or business? What products or services do you provide? While technical writers won’t always have to be SMEs to work on a subject, it can be helpful for them to have experience and knowledge pertinent to your business or project.
- Business goals and scope of the project. Next, clearly outline what it is you’re trying to accomplish with your content. Potential candidates should be able to read this part of the brief and instantly understand how the content they’ll write will help accomplish these goals.
- A description of the content and channels where the content will be promoted. Is this an industry white paper distributed to a network of peers, or high-level materials for customers who want to educate themselves more on your product or service? Will the technical writer be writing in-depth explainer articles that need some SEO expertise, white papers with footnotes, or more engaging training materials?
- Specific writing styles, acronyms, or terminology they will be using. If there’s a set style or library of acronyms and terms the writer should be familiar with, mention that as well.
- Timeline and deliverables.
How to shortlist technical writers
A skilled technical writer isn’t just good at understanding how something works—they must also understand the audience and how to communicate effectively to them. Instead of just documenting a product’s feature, they also ask why and how people would use it. They understand the user’s perspective and the goals the user is trying to achieve.
As you’re browsing available technical writing consultants, it can be helpful to develop a shortlist of the freelancers you may want to interview. You can screen profiles on criteria such as:
- Industry fit. You want a technical writer who understands your industry, so they can help you translate your technical jargon into something that speaks to your target market.
- Detail oriented. It takes strong attention to detail to accurately translate advanced technical concepts into the words of a layperson.
- Feedback. Check reviews from past clients for glowing testimonials or red flags that can tell you what it’s like to work with a particular technical writer.
How to write an effective tehnical writer job post
You can get more qualified proposals and speed up your search by being more specific with your needs. Before posting a job, ask yourself:
- What level of expertise do I need? Do they need job experience as a business analyst, engineer, or accountant? Do they need academic credentials such as a Ph.D.?
- What graphics are needed? Technical writers can usually create graphics such as tables, diagrams, and engineering drawings to support what they’re writing about. Good writers are skilled at creating well-designed graphics that integrate with the copy.
- When do I need the project done? If you have a tight deadline, a more experienced writer may be able to turn a project around faster and with fewer edits needed.
- How much research is needed? Does the writer need to sit with engineers to watch a piece of equipment being installed, then write instructions about how to do it? Does the writer need to run their draft by a test group to read for accuracy and comprehension?
With a clear picture of your ideal technical writer in mind, it’s time to write that job post. Although you don’t need a full job description as you would with employment, aim to provide enough detail for a contractor to know if they’re the right fit for the project. An effective technical writing job post should include:
- Scope of work: From blog posts to test procedures, list all the deliverables you’ll need.
- Project length: Your job post should indicate whether this is a smaller or larger project.
- Background: If you prefer experience working with certain industries, software, or marketing channels, mention this here.
- Budget: Set a budget and note your preference for hourly rates vs. fixed-price contracts.
TECHNICAL WRITERS FAQ
What is technical writing?
Technical writing is an umbrella term that covers everything from code documentation to blog posts covering the latest news in tech. If you’ve ever clicked “help” in a software service, perused an informative article covering new technology, or relied on a user manual to use a new product or service, you’ve benefited from the services of a technical writer.
2020欧洲杯体育投注平台Here’s a quick overview of the skills you should look for in technical writing freelancers:
- Technical writing and editing
- Experience writing technical documents (whitepapers, user manuals, etc.)
- Attention to detail
- Familiarity with your subject matter
2020欧洲杯体育投注平台From marketing a technical product to educating your customers on how best to use it, technical writing consultants can create the documentation you need to reach your target audience.
Why hire technical writers?
The trick to finding top technical writers is to identify your needs. Are you looking for someone to write fun and informative blog posts about your technical products or services? Or do you require someone with a strong coding background to create the documentation for a library to be used by other developers? The cost of your technical writing project will depend largely on your scope of work, and the specific skills needed to bring your project to life.
How much does it cost to hire a technical writer?
2020欧洲杯体育投注平台How much does it cost to hire a technical writer who can grasp these complicated subjects and effectively edit or write the materials you need? In this article, we’ll take a look at what goes into technical writing and give you a general framework for budgeting how much the technical writer who’s right for you may charge.
Technical writers not only need excellent writing skills but can also have more specialized skills, like the ability to generate technical drawings, format step-ordered manuals, or create highly organized digital interactive help tables. What you need from that writer will determine your budget, as more specialized writers can usually command a higher rate for their expertise.
On Upwork, the rates charged by top technical writers can range from as low as $15 dollars an hour to as high as $125 an hour, though most fall in the $30-60 range. Rates can vary due to many factors, including expertise and experience, location, and market conditions. Which one is right for you will depend on the specifics of your content.
2020欧洲杯体育投注平台If your project has a short, non-negotiable deadline, know you may have to pay a premium to get the content you need delivered on time.
That said, there are three easy steps you can take to keep your project on time and within budget.
- Be specific in the project brief.A few lines detailing your expectations, process, and deliverables can save you lots of back and forth emails down the line. Do you need manuals or ebooks, educational materials, product descriptions, or white papers? State this in the brief.
- Give plenty of background, examples, and outlines. Context helps any writer get started on the right foot. In addition to the brief, give them examples of content you’re looking for to help them get rolling with the work. The more detail, the better.
- Simplify the review process. Make sure it’s clear who needs to review/who will be the subject matter expert signing off on the content for accuracy. The more people who need to review and sign-off, the more likely you are to face delays.