If you’re writing a news piece on technology, look for a primary source no more than two weeks old. If you’re writing about a particular product or company, track down at least one quote from the past month. Occasionally, you’ll get lucky and find a company executive saying exactly the right thing at the right time, but in general, aim for quotes that speak to your client’s current or ideal marketspace. Before linking to a site, make sure it’s a reputable source—click back to the home page and see what kind of work it produces. Also, make sure to check out its “contact” section—if your client is based in the United States but the source is from South Africa, you may need to keep digging.
Looking for more tech writing jobs? Be reliable. This doesn’t just mean getting your work done on time—rather, make sure the data you’re using is accurate and (relatively) unbiased. Keep track of major research companies and sign up for tech newsletters so when something new breaks, you’ll be among the first to know.
When you’re linking to a survey or study, try to find a PDF of the original source rather than relying on news outlets. If you can’t, use the most reputable news source available. It’s also a good idea to find out who sponsored or funded the research. For example, if you’re working for a client that uses Amazon Web Services, a Google-sponsored survey may not be your best bet.
Your job as a technology writer is to engage readers by striking a balance between tech details and common-sense explanations while providing a snapshot of “what’s new.” In other words, you’re delivering a revelation that relies on a strong entry, excitement, and example. Let’s start with entry. Before you write a single line of text, brainstorm a great title. Pull in readers by providing just enough intriguing information to make them curious for more.
Next, you need to build excitement. Big picture or small scale works here—how is your client changing the game or raising the bar in its field?
Example is the final piece. If you’re writing for non-tech users, you need technology similes—how is your subject “like” or similar to a familiar process or item? If you’re writing for technology professionals or C-suite executives, use real-world examples to hammer your point home.
The tech world is full of power plays, intrigue, and the occasional massive failure. Tech writers who stay on top, however, have learned the lesson of respect. First, always respect the company you work for and their competitors—you never know for whom you might work next. This means no mudslinging, no pointing fingers, and no direct comparisons to how much “better” your client can perform. Subtlety is key. Respect for readers is also critical. Never assume an unwieldy paragraph or poor comparison will make it past tech professionals because they aren’t strong wordsmiths.
These days, it’s easier than ever to start writing. If you post a blog or a find a freelance website and work hard, there’s a good chance tech writing jobs will come your way. But, as language expert Ben Yagoda notes in a Huffington Post editorial, “for writing, it’s the best of times and it’s the worst of times.”
Why is this? This influx of homegrown talent has led to a rise in writing errors, often owing to poor (or absent) revisions. Simply put, revise your articles, fix what’s wrong, and rise above the crowd.
Wordiness tops the list. In tech articles especially, brevity paves the road to clarity. Don’t use filler, don’t use fluff—get to the point and stay there. Start and end strong; weak introductions won’t draw in readers, and weak endings aren’t read. Avoid intensifying or qualifying statements. Don’t add modifiers such as “best” or “greatest,” and skip “somewhat,” “arguably,” or “kind of.” Technology articles rely on facts overlaid with intelligent analysis. Nothing you say should sound uncertain or hype-laden.
For more information on tech writing jobs, join Skyword’s writer community.