You may be wondering if there’s much of a difference between technology writers and technical writers, or if it’s just semantics. While these two job titles are similar, there are some significant differences in what they involve on a day-to-day basis and how they’re used in the workplace. For more information, take a look at this guide to the difference between technology writer and technical writer and figure out which one you should use in your business practices moving forward.
What is a technical writer anyway?
Technically, all writers are technical. After all, writing is an inherently technical act. However, most people think of technical writing as being much more specific than that. In fact, many think of it as something entirely different from fiction or poetry or even journalism (though technically it’s closer to those). The differences come down to how technical writers approach their job—whether they treat their writing as art, as craftsmanship, or both. I think treating your writing like art makes for great poetry but bad instructions; so let’s leave art alone for now and focus on what sets technical writers apart: their attention to form over expression.
What is a technology writer?
Simply put, if you’re writing about how to use technology, you’re most likely working with a technology writer. A technology writer focuses on creating content that explains to users what they need to know in order to master their devices or utilize new software effectively. These types of documents often accompany instruction manuals and are vital for ensuring customer satisfaction. Most companies will outsource their tech documentation to freelancers so that they can update it as frequently as needed without having to hire an in-house staff member.
3 instances where your business needs a technology writer
1. Because technology writing requires a different set of skills than technical writing A technology writer will almost always be involved with some sort of development or product management, which often means that they’ll need to have a broader technical knowledge in addition to their written communication skills. Technical writers, on the other hand, often focus primarily on written communication since they aren’t necessarily a part of any development or product management aspect of their organization.
2. Some people believe a technology writer’s sole responsibility is to make sure a piece of software or website gets explained in plain English. But there are plenty of reasons to hire a technology writer (other than just making sure your documentation isn’t too “techy”). Think about all the work that goes into building websites, applications, programming, etc., it’s easy to see why these elements can be so confusing for someone without any technical knowledge. Depending on what needs explaining, you might need more than one type of writer working on your project.
3. Technology writers bring value to organizations by helping non-technical employees understand how products function.
Questions to ask before hiring a freelance technology writer
When it comes to hiring freelance technology writers, you want to be able to communicate with them in your primary language (i.e., tech-speak). No one knows how you’re going to deploy their content, so it’s essential that they can express themselves in terms of technical specifics. In addition, they should have experience with writing documentation on topics similar to what you need created. It’s also vital that they are able to take complex information and break it down into easily digestible chunks. Make sure to ask technology writers questions that get at these issues prior to hiring them, such as:
1) What do you think is important when breaking down difficult material?
2) How would you explain deep technical concepts if we put a non-technical person in front of you?
3) What does a day in your life look like? The biggest thing I’m looking for here is whether or not they know how to handle deadlines.
4) Can you write about technical subjects using jargon appropriate for laypeople?
How much do freelance technology writers cost?
Freelance technology writers can charge on average $0.10 per word for articles, but charge much more when technical writing for manuals or white papers (which, on average, runs from $15-$25 per hour). For example, CareerBuilder’s most recent survey on hiring freelance tech writers shows that some writers make an average hourly rate of $30 (or about $60,000 per year). This doesn’t account for their typically lower page count. Writers often justify their rates by proving that they’re highly trained professionals who need to invest time in research and editing before they begin writing. They also have to consider how many hours it will take them to finish each project—and then add in their overhead costs like, equipment maintenance, insurance, etc., which all factor into a freelancer’s total cost of doing business. Ultimately, if you plan to employ a full-time staff member who will not work out in the long run, a freelance technology writer is still your best option.
How long does it take for a technology writer to deliver results?
It typically takes a few days or less for a professional writer to produce 1,000 words. But, deadlines aren’t guaranteed by agreements—they depend on how complicated a topic is. If you are dealing with some very intricate topic then it could take longer to produce 1000 words. For example, writing about how to develop a prototype using XYZ technology could take some extra time if you want quality content instead of low-quality content which will take less time to produce. Plus there are other factors that can cause variation in delivery times (like access to sources). Take into account where your writer falls within those parameters—and you’ll be able to figure out what level of quality and/or speed your paying for. Also keep in mind that exceptional writers will meet their deadlines or they shouldn’t be considered professional writers.
The final decision
Technology writers can be good for business and better outcomes. The writer will save you time, allowing you to focus on other aspects of your business. Technology companies have different hiring criteria than non-technology companies. If you are looking for someone to write content related to technological products or services, it’s best to find someone who has knowledge in that field. This ensures they can write with authority on topics specific to your industry. It’s also important to remember not all technology writers are equal—and their rates may vary based on their experience level and background. With that in mind, do your homework and search for a technology or other niche specific writer so that your project can get off the ground.