Avoid Costly Mistakes with an Experienced Technical Author
A good technical writer is going to cost you in the region of at least £30 per hour, so you'll want to make sure you get value for money. That’s where it pays to choose an experienced technical writer who has a proven track record and qualifications in technical communication.
When I mention experience, I don’t mean experience in your industry; I mean experience as a technical writer. Knowing about your products and industry can actually be a hinderance due to the 'curse of knowledge', something I cover in an advice page (see How to choose a technical author). An author who knows their craft will know how to:
- Create customer profiles of your audience, and write in a style that is accessible to them.
- Identify the needs of your audience, and know how to explain terms and processes using language and ideas that they understand.
- Plan your content, so that it has a logical structure and a clear user journey.
- Use leading technical writing tools to create stylish content, and use features such as content reuse to reduce your future documentation costs.
- Research your products and services by interviewing experts.
- Spot weaknesses in your existing documentation.
- Advise on possible improvements to features and user interfaces.
- Report bugs.
This knowledge will save you money as it means the writer will be able to work more efficiently and be better equipped to adapt to changes.
If you just want to go ahead and hire me, use the button below to get in touch. Tell me what you need and when you need it by, and I'll get back to you as soon as possible.
On the other hand, if you'd like to know more about my experience, the following sections may be of interest:
In the words of Ice T: “I ain’t new to this.” I’ve been working as a technical author for my entire career, which began way back in 1997. Back then, I was a fresh-faced technical communication graduate looking to work on online help systems. Today, I am a seasoned technical writer who has worked on online help systems, manuals, user guides, training documents, web sites and articles for a variety of companies.
Take a look at what I bring to your project:
- Understanding of technical communication principles and best practice (degree in Technical Communication, member of the ISTC)
- Experience of working in large multi-national companies, small UK companies, and start-up businesses
- Proven track record of working with authoring tools, including:
- MadCap Flare
- Adobe InDesign
- Adobe FrameMaker
- Microsoft Word
- Atlassian Confluence
- Knowledge of SEO, CSS, HTML
- Professionalism. I have worked as an employee, freelance technical writer and contract technical author, so I don’t need micro-managing – just tell me what you need and I’ll get your documentation on the right track.
- Commitment to personal development. Even though I have been a technical writer for a long time, I don’t think I know it all. Technology doesn’t stand still, so there is always something new to learn.
You can find out more about my career history on my profile page, but I'll give you a summary of some of the things I have written/worked on here:
- User guide for app used with grids in the financial sector. This was written in Paligo and delivered as HTML5 online help and Zendesk articles.
- User guides for time synchronisation devices used in television and film recording. A MadCap Flare project, delivered as PDFs and converted to Zendesk articles.
- Instruction manuals for industrial pumps. This was an InDesign to MadCap Flare conversion job.
- User guides for remote monitoring and control software used in data centre cooling. An Atlassian Confluence project.
- Agents guide for online scrap car auction system. MS Word for this one.
- User guides for working processes in out of hours healthcare. This was mostly a conversion project from MS Word to MadCap Flare, although extensive rewrites were needed.
- Manufacturing, installation, and product manuals for data centre cooling hardware. Delivered as Word documents with PDFs.
- User guides for electrical pelvic floor strengthening devices.
- User guides for SCADA software, used in the energy industries (16 years in this industry). The guides included alarms, mimics, logic programs, WITS driver, SMS comms, telemetry, etc.
As you can see, I've spent a lot of my career documenting systems that provide remote control and remote monitoring, so I'm a good fit for that type of software and IoT devices. But I've also diversified, with forays into completely different industries. I like to learn new things and have variety in my work.
What will I learn when I work for you? I'm keen to find out. To hire me to write technical content, click the button below to get in touch. Let me know what you need and your deadlines, and I'll get back to you a.s.a.p.
Technology is always changing, so do you really need an experienced technical writer? Won't most of that experience be out of date by now, anyway? Well, that depends on what you consider to be experience. If you are talking about technical knowledge of authoring tools, then yes, having decades of experience isn't going to have a huge effect on how a writer works with Flare, Paligo, Confluence, or any other tool. But that's not where a technical writer's value is. You don't hire a technical writer for their technical expertise, you hire them for their ability to:
- Write clearly, and explain complex concepts in simple terms
- Identify who your audience is and what information they need
- Pitch your content at the right level for your audience
- Structure content so that it has a logical flow
- Plan your content, making use of the latest time-saving features
- Get technical information from your experts, without being too disruptive
- Take ownership of your documentation project, so you can focus your efforts elsewhere.
How many of those skills go out of date? Exactly. While technical writers work in technology, our core skills are unaffected by it.
Looking back at my own career, I know that I have gained a lot with experience. I'm better at every aspect of the job, and more confident when it comes to getting information from SMEs and working independently. I know what I need to achieve to make your documentation a success, and the tools I will use are just a means to an end.
Of course, the other benefit of experience is that I've seen how documentation is created in other companies. So when I start working for you, I'll be able to steer your project away from the common mistakes that I've seen in the past.
And as a final note - I've been a technical writer for my entire career (20 years), so I'm not going anywhere. This is what I do, and I've no intention of packing it all in any time soon - so when your project needs to be updated or you have a new product that needs documenting, I'll still be around, ready to help.