The technical content industry is flourishing, and experts in the field are keen to continue growing this industry by sharing our experiences and insights through our technical writing blogs, both to prove the effectiveness of technical content marketing strategies and to help upcoming writers meet expectations.
Technical writing is a job that can be mastered like any other, and has the advantage that you can establish and improve your writing skills – and when you’re ready – start working from home. In addition to the wealth of knowledge being shared, new tools alleviate the problems both experienced and inexperienced writers encounter.
Here are our favorite blogs, tools, and resources to help you better understand technical writing and improve your writing skills. There are lots of long lists with outdated links out there, so we've decided to list the sites that provide up-to-date, relevant information to help level up your technical writing career — as provided by our own technical writing staff.
What does a technical content writer do?
The goal of technical writing is to provide written content that breaks down technical concepts and processes, ensuring that they are understood by the reader at their competence level.
As a technical writer, your priority is effectively communicating with your audience. To do this, you must not only have an understanding of the audience you’re writing for; you must also have an understanding of the product you’re writing about and what it’s setting out to do for them. Promoting a feature that doesn't work as you’ve described is a fast way to waste a user's time and break the trust they have in the information you’re providing. Being able to communicate clearly, concisely, and authoritatively is paramount.
Technical content writing applies technical writing skills to content marketing. It goes beyond just regurgitating marketing buzzwords and praising the product you are writing about. Value must be provided to the reader, and this value must be identified before it can be provided. Puff pieces that simply venerate a product and provide nothing else are quickly seen through, never gaining traction in the communities they seek to influence and leaving a bad impression on those that do read it.
Well-written technical content should show you why a product or solution is useful, and how it can be applied to solve a problem the reader has. This is done through concept-level articles, tutorials, documentation, or exploratory text that connects with the reader, both informing them and leaving them with a favorable opinion of the product you’re presenting.
At Wizard on Demand, we focus on providing technical content and marketing strategies for business-to-business (B2B) products and services. However, technical writing is not limited to the technology field.
Technical writers create content for pretty much every industry you can think of – roofers, cosmetics companies, camping stove manufacturers... Any product whose users need to get up to speed with the concepts and processes behind it needs writers who understand the functional specifics of the subject.
Regardless of which field you are writing for, the resources listed below should prove invaluable to you on your writing journey.
Best technical writing blogs
I’d rather be writing is probably the most popular technical writing blog. It includes content regarding documentation, the writing process, communication trends, careers, and more. It’s run by Tom Hohnson, who’s a technical writer for Google — so he knows his stuff.
The article Docs as Code is an interesting read for technical writers, covering the author's experiences in applying coding tools and methodologies to his writing process.
Docs By Design is written by Bob Watson, who writes technical documentation for AWS. His blog includes articles about the technical writing process, success stories, and his experiences in the industry. Interestingly, Bob comes from a software background and moved into writing, so he offers a different perspective compared to other writers who later became familiar with the software development side of things.
Recently published, Proving and defending the value of technical writing, again is a humorous read for those working with clients who may be skeptical about the value provided by high-quality written documentation.
ClickHelp is a nifty documentation platform for authoring and hosting the documentation for software and product documentation. To encourage good technical writing on their platform, their blog includes information and tips about technical writing, its goals and purpose, and best practices. It has a broad scope that covers many aspects of writing and delivering documentation.
How to Use Technical Content to Improve Customer Experience is a must-read for writers who are looking to better understand how their writing affects the reader's decision to start using a product or service. Technical Writing Vs Content Writing outlines the skills needed for each writing role, a combination of which is required for the technical content writer.
This blog hasn’t been updated in a little while, but it’s worth diving into the archived posts. There is a lot of insight into the role of a technical writer, what makes a good technical writer, and processes that can be implemented to enable better writing.
If you’ve ever had trouble identifying passive and active voice in your writing, give Technical Writing | Passive vs Active Sentences a quick read.
Seth Godin is a marketer who markets his knowledge about marketing. While not specific to technical writing, his blog is a goldmine of useful tips for writing and communication.
We recommend reading the article Permission Marketing to our new recruits to give them a crash course in how writing can be used to connect consumers with the product you are writing about.
I'd be remiss if I didn't include Wizard on Demand — because that's us, and we're pretty good at what we do. We don't just write technical content based on our clients’ requirements, we actively seek their intended audience and research potential new audiences. Once we've found them, we interview them, find out what problems your product can solve for them, and tailor content to communicate this solution effectively.
Best technical writing resources
Find other blogs in your field and find out what they are doing to succeed. Detailed provides ranked listings of blogs across any category you can think of. By identifying what content is popular with blogs targeting the same audience as you are, you can learn what it is that they are looking for, the style of writing that appeals to them, and the kinds of content they are seeking out.
Write the Docs is a huge resource for technical writers. There are articles, videos, newsletters and book recommendations – and even in-person meetups and virtual conferences. It’s a fantastic place to immerse yourself in the technical writing community.
Google's Technical writing resources page focuses on the documentation side of technical writing, and provides links to all of Google's public-facing resources for technical writers.
If you’re new to writing, and looking to write blog posts or short tutorials, this article is a must. It’s a fantastic all-in-one guide to writing blog posts that readers enjoy reading.
This guide covers best practices for structuring your articles to make them easy to read, and thus more likely to engage readers and rank higher in search results. If your writing is going to be SEO focused, the rest of the Yoast blog is a worthwhile read to help you get familiar with the competitive landscape that is Search Engine Optimization.
This one does what it says on the tin: it’s a list of the best books on writing currently out there, many of which include a free summary of the content, so you don’t even have to buy them. They’re not specifically technical writing books, but their advice about clarity and style is relevant to technical writing.
Purdue University provides a huge resource for writers, including guides for research, grammar, style, and working as a professional writer. Of particular interest to burgeoning technical writers will be the Introduction to the Chicago Manual of Style and the Introduction to the AP (Associated Press) Style — the two main writing styles employed by online publications.
Once you think you have your technical writing skills up to snuff, Who Pays Technical Writers? is a starting point for finding work to apply and hone those skills. There's nothing like real client feedback to help you further your writing skills.
It’s also useful to see exactly what potential clients are looking for in a technical writer, so you can tailor your writing and approach for the best chance of success and start building out your portfolio.
LinkedIn, Twitter, and social media
There’s no link here, you’ll need to research this one yourself. As mentioned earlier, technical writing covers a range of subjects and industries. Find the people who are already writing on the subjects you want to write about, and read what they publish. Subscribe to their feeds and interact with them.
Find companies in the field and read their press releases. Find industry news and gazettes and read those articles to absorb the language, tone and talking points you will need to be aware of while writing. Knowing your audience is the most important thing you can do to make your writing more effective.
Best technical writing videos
UChicago provides a number of incredibly informative videos about writing, and writing effectively. Specifically, we recommend that our new writers watch LEADERSHIP LAB: The Craft of Writing Effectively and LEADERSHIP LAB: Writing Beyond the Academy to gain a better understanding of what makes writing valuable.
A (fittingly) short video on writing clearly and concisely – an important skill for effective communication.
Technical writing for the software industry often requires the creation of code examples. This video will outline what makes good sample code, and how you can make sure your code is easy to read and understand.
A sizable amount of technical writing has a marketing purpose. Ahrefs Blogging for Business series consists of 41 videos, running between 2 and 10 minutes each, detailing why blogging is valuable and how you can build a successful blog with a growing audience by implementing some practical promotion strategies.
Best technical writing tools
Grammarly is an online writing assistant that reviews spelling and grammar, as well as providing suggestions for clarity, style, and tone. Some find it incredibly helpful to their writing, as it can catch some mistakes in their text that would otherwise need the help of an editor.
Writer’s tip: Don’t rely on Grammarly entirely. You need to be confident in your writing style. Computers are very good at misinterpreting idiomatic language and making bad suggestions (we’ve all had embarrassing auto-correct incidents). Use tools like Grammarly (and Hemingway, listed further ahead) as a guide to see where you may have made a mistake — don’t let the robots write the article for you!
Google Docs is a free, online office suite, including a word processor. Collaboration is built in, so you can work on your text with others, and share it with clients easily.
Some writers like the creature comforts like Google Docs and Grammarly. Others just want to write, distraction free. Markdown is a language that lets you just write, in the text editor of your choice, while still allowing for formatting to be included through some basic formatting syntax. Markdown gives you a huge amount of flexibility in the tools you use – Markdown documents can be created in simple text editors like Notepad, or using programming IDEs like Visual Studio Code while leveraging plugins, version control, and syntax highlighting.
Check your writing for overly long sentences and common errors.
Need a stock image for an article? Unsplash has a lot of them, all royalty free. While we work with an in-house technical illustrator for most images, we sometimes use Unsplash or other similar services as well.
Sketch diagrams and drafts for your illustrations. The results look amazing (with a neat hand-drawn style) given the simplicity of the tool – often our clients ask if the prototype illustrations are the final thing.
Time tracking and organization tools
Everyone works differently, so we don’t recommend a specific tool for time and task management. Kanban boards, diaries, sticky notes, voice assistants, stop watches – whatever system you have that keeps you on task and on schedule, stick with it and iterate on it.
Stephen King writes 2000 words a day. We’re not him and neither are you(if you are, hey, Stephen, are you writing scary software documentation?), but writing short articles, introductions, or snippets daily can help you get used to writing on demand and working through writer's block.
The best tool for clearing writer's block — outside! Go take a walk, throw a ball against a wall, scream into the abyss — exercise, open spaces and greenery can help get your brain moving again.
What about SEO tools?
SEO means Search Engine Optimisation — and it's a constant arms race.
You can identify content from your competitors and the search keywords their writers use and try to outrank them, but you can be assured that they are watching the same metrics and are ready to respond in turn.
Keyword optimization is only one factor in determining whether an article is relevant to a search. Modern search engines also track users’ responsiveness to a search result after they have clicked on it. If they don't linger on the article for long enough, it's assumed that it was not relevant to their query.
Tools like ahrefs and Google Search Console are incredibly useful for identifying what people are searching for, but relying on the keywords alone is no longer enough. You must identify the intent of the search — what the user is actually looking for beyond the simple keywords — and provide that to them.
If the user wants to know how to build an online store, provide them with a tutorial for doing so. If they want to know why the Sahara is sandy, provide an explanation. If they are looking for a list of technical writing blogs, resources, and tools that they can use to improve their technical writing skills, well... hi!
Professional technical content writing is a burgeoning field — especially in B2B. As more businesses are moving more of their operations and workflows online, more and more industry-specific software tools are being developed — and we need technical writers to meet the ever growing need for documentation and content.
If you come from a technical background, and think you have what it takes to give freelance technical writing a go, Wizard on Demand is always on the lookout for talented writers and editors who can understand the concepts behind the software our clients sell, and communicate those concepts to potential users.
If you're not from a technical or developer background, Wizard on Demand is a multi-channel content agency, so we also want to hear from multimedia creators who work with images, sound and vision.
We are a diverse group of writers, editors, and creators who work remotely from across the globe, with writers in Europe, Asia, Australia, and the Americas. We want to make sure we get the right people for the right job, and work to accommodate those with the skills we are seeking.
Interested in a technical writing career? Check out the open positions at Wizard on Demand!