Does a Technical Writer Need to Have Experience of your Industry?
On this page, I’m going to give you a brief overview of my career, so that you can see what types of projects I have worked on. But in my opinion, previous experience of your industry shouldn’t be a major factor when you hire a technical writer.
For most technical writing projects, the technical writer is writing for a non-expert audience. That means it helps to have a non-expert perspective. Hiring someone with lots of knowledge of your industry can result in content that makes assumptions and doesn’t provide the level of information your customers need.
Good technical writers are a bit like journalists – we know how to craft content that has the right language and structure, and we know how to get the information we need.
Right, time to get off my soap box and back to business. Details of my background coming up.
Freelance Technical Writing Projects
After 15 years as an employed technical writer, I decided I needed a change and became a freelance techncial writer (5 years later than I had planned, to be honest). Since then, I have worked on a variety of projects including:
Technical Document Conversions
I have converted various manuals and help content into other formats. This includes FrameMaker to Flare, Flare to Zendesk, and Flare to Paligo.
Data Centre Cooling
I created online help, user guides, installation guides, and manufacturing guides for hardware and software (Internet of Things) used in the data centre cooling industry.
I have written online help and a user guide for an application used in the financial industry. The app was designed to make it easier for traders to sort and organise data.
I revamped a user guide for a pelvic floor health device. I wrote it from the end-user's perspective and made the language much more accessible.
Zendesk Customer Support Article Writer
I've written customer support articles in Zendesk for several different products. I've also converted content from other formats into Zendesk articles.
I wrote the basis for a new beginner's tutorial for the cloud-based authoring CCMS, Paligo. The aim was to target writers with no experience of Paligo.
Working for EBPCOOH, out of hours care providers to the NHS, I created online help in MadCap Flare and rewrote content as needed.
Industrial Pumps Technical Writer
I converted Word documents into MadCap Flare for an industrial pumps company. This involved setting up content reuse and improving the text.
I wrote a series of user guides for time synchronisation devices used in the TV and film industry. These were written in Flare, delivered as PDF, and added to Zendesk.
Scrap Car Network
Remove My Car, a national scrap car company, hired me to write the user guide for their agents auction application.
Marketing Content Writer
For a while, I focused on copywriting and wrote marketing content. Clients included therapists, lighting companies, and even a stage illusionist.
I've documented code when working in software teams and also as a freelancer. Paligo has a nice output designed especially for API documentation.
Employment as a Technical Writer
For 15 years, I worked as a technical author for Serck Controls (which was later purchased by Schneider Electric). I was responsible for creating content for user manuals and online help.
The work I produced explains how to use ClearSCADA, a world-class monitoring and control software solution. The software is used in the energy and utilities industries and allows operators to monitor and control sites and equipment remotely. For example, it allows engineers to open and close valves from a remote workstation.
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