Why hire an engineer as a technical writer, and not an English major?
- When your highly technical writing project is bumping up against major project deadlines in product development,
- When you need an academic writer to finish your informative article to meet deadlines,
- When your R&D effort might be patentable — if you can only get its technical ideas down on paper, or
- When you need someone with a technical background to finish training materials or user documentation,
you quickly discover that many technical writers have a bachelor’s degree in English, enjoy writing, and may have studied “creative writing.” Their job description typically includes excellent writing skills, good communication skills, basic data skills and business writing skills, attention to detail, creating error free prose in written instructions, and lots of basic experience with written content. They may even be members of the Society for Technical Communication and even write journal articles for that group.
As technical writers, they perform audience analysis on their intended audience before writing anything, fix basic grammar mistakes, have a good grasp of web design, update social media pages, create online help and reference guides, perform quality assurance checks on basic technical documentation, and update web pages within a site really well.
As long as that’s all the technical communication you need, most tech writers are perfectly fine, do good work, and are good team members–and they’re usually really nice people, too.
But in many situations with technical communication, all of that is simply not enough.
Since a technical writer’s college degree is usually not in a technical field, they lack deep technical skill and strong technical background in highly technical content and complex information, even if they have interest in information technology. Their technical abilities likely come only from the 2 science classes they needed for a concentration in “tech writing” so they can call themselves a “technical writer” after receiving their English degrees.
They can crunch numbers for technical proposals and can create content for article writing, how to manuals, and installation guides. They’re good at creating basic product manuals, standard operating procedure, employee handbooks, basic white papers, and basic end user documentation (like assembly instructions, user manuals, user guides and instruction manuals).
But they’re almost never what you would call “subject matter experts.” Their skill with scientific and technical products in engineering or computer science eventually reaches a limit, often at the exact spot where your new technology begins and you need them to really grasp what you’re doing.
Watch the commercial below to see a real-life example of what we mean!
How are we different?
In cases like those above, you need someone whose technical writing niche is as a highly technical writer, a detail-oriented engineer with a bachelor’s degree (and master’s degree) in engineering and over 20 years of technical writing experience, and whose technical knowledge and background in technical documentation allow him to:
- quickly learn your complex technical information and technical topics,
- conduct research into your subject matter,
- develop a deep understanding of what you’re doing,
- put your technical documents together in a concise manner so your highly technical target audience can use and appreciate your work,
- add any highly technical supporting document types needed, and
- get done on time and on budget.
(Because you totally forgot about documentation until the last second, right? Don’t lie–and don’t worry; it’s our secret…)
With Avery Enterprises, you get a freelance writer with actual technical skills. The result is both a better quality of technical writer and an extra temp engineer to note and fix lingering problems.
We quickly learn your software packages to get your job done.
Sounds good, but can you provide an example?
One past project involved a book on Visual Basic and 2 days to learn the language. After that, we got the software package and wrote a user manual for the client’s GUI. We included all the ways we found to crash the software (to tell users, “Don’t do this!”) The client had no idea how many problems the software had– until they read our manual. Then they were really happy they’d hired us–and kept us for another week to test their software fixes.
Any writing samples we can see?
This writing sample is based on a format used in the past by the U.S. Navy for writing documentation, written at a Navy base near Washington DC. It’s a little boring, and we took out every bit of possibly classified information, but it works as an example.
How much will all of this cost me?
Because we work directly with customers (without a temp agency as go-between), our fixed fee for a given project is comparable with the total fee for technical writing jobs charged by temp agencies who provide freelance technical writers by the hour–but your results will be an order of magnitude better than a temp agency can provide.
What else should I know before contacting you?
We use Microsoft Office most, followed by Adobe. But if you have a software package we need to learn, bring it on! Our patent work is, by definition, cutting-edge, so we deal with new stuff literally all the time.
We have an office with cable Internet (if your office space is full) and generally work remotely or work from home, especially with COVID. But we may be able to come onsite if needed and even bring a laptop (to avoid your internal IT morass). Either way, work is done quickly and quietly (and, honestly, isn’t your office crazy enough already?)
From running a full time business that includes technical writing, we also have experience with project management–and have even updated a large set of slides used by one consultant to teach basic project management/PMI skills!
So before you pay for a website to post “full time technical writer jobs” to large groups of job seekers, and before you create a job posting for “freelance writer”, “full time technical writer” or “white paper writer”, use the “contact us” tab at the top of the page. The job and money you save may be your own!