Technical writers have the knowledge to dive deep into a particular program, software, or product, offering speciations and detailed guides to help users understand and utilize the product for their unique purpose. Oftentimes, technical writers are put in charge of producing documentation, tutorials, and troubleshooting guides, but how do you know which writer to choose?
Here are the steps you need to follow to hire the best technical content writer for your enterprise.
1. Understand and Describe Your Needs
Technical writers cover a wide range of niches and specialties, so you need to get specific when posting your project. Explain the type of content you want created (e.g., articles for your blog, documentation for your resource library, etc.) and the exact skills you need the writer to possess.
For instance, if your software requires knowledge of HTML, this is a skill the technical writer needs to have. Meanwhile, if your tutorials require someone to know your proprietary interface, make sure you include that in the description so the writer can account for the time it will take them to get to know your unique solution.
2. List The Tools The Writer Will Require
Often, technical guides include far more than just written content. If you expect the writer to provide screenshots and visuals, or even screen recordings, you need to consider the tools they'll need to complete the project.
List any requirements for complementary content in the description so writers can ensure they have the right tools for the job. If your company plans to provide access to a screen capture tool or other software, let writers know that in advance.
3. Explain The Ideal Qualifications
Technical writers often come from different backgrounds, with some being experienced software developers and others simply being topic enthusiasts. If there are specific qualifications you want your writer to hold, such as a specific degree or certification, you need to list this within the description.
As a company, remember that the more qualifications you expect a writer to possess, the smaller your talent pool of options becomes and the more expensive a writer is to acquire. So, think carefully before adding such qualifications as a "must-have." Instead of requiring specific degrees or certifications, you might instead put writers through a skills test before hiring them.
4. Define Your Project's Timeline
Every company has a timeline for its content's creation. For instance, if you're creating documentation that you hope to be available at the product's launch, you need to make the project's end date very clear. Additionally, make sure your delivery timeline factors in a few days (or weeks, depending on the project's size) for revisions and final edits.
Writers should be made aware of expected delivery dates and check-ins before they take on the project, so communicate these expectations in the project's description and confirm them with each writer you talk to. Over-estimate instead of under-estimate, giving yourself a few extra days for revisions, edits, and publications, to ensure you are not rushed to accept the work.
5. Clarify The Project's Scope
While your company may just be starting out by asking a writer to create a single product guide or tutorial, if you hope to continue working with that writer in the future, assuming the first project goes well, you should make this clear. Often, the best writers only take time working on projects if it means building a relationship with a client they can expect to work with again.
On the other hand, if your project is strictly a one-off or if you hope to hire many writers to create all of the documentation you require at once, you should make your intentions clear. By describing the project's scope, you'll ensure that you and your writers are on the same page. Some writers may not be available for long-term work, for example, making them more likely to apply if your project will only take a few days or weeks to complete.
6. Ask for Writing Samples
While you may be excited to just jump right into the content's creation, it's paramount that you spend some time getting to know each potential writer and their abilities before moving forward with anyone. This will help ensure your project's success -- especially if you have a backlog of technical content you're hoping to create.
Don't be shy about asking for writing samples when communicating with potential writers. On websites like Scripted, you can actually view a writer's profile and samples without having to contact them. Of course, if you're interested in seeing something specific, don't hesitate to send the writer a message and ask.
When reviewing writing samples, look for more than just technical knowledge of the topic. The best technical writers can take rather dry, bland information and present it in a manner that engages readers. Look for a writer who can do this so that your documentation and guides don't end up disappointing your audience. The best technical writers can present factual, concise information while still making your brand's voice shine through.
7. Look for The Right Traits
Now that you know all of the specific characteristics that great technical writers possess, it's a good idea to remind yourself of all the "basic traits" you should seek out in any writer you hire. Those are:
Research capabilities. Even with a great deal of background knowledge, the best technical writers understand that research is required to produce detailed, factual content. Ask the writer about their research process.
Communication Skills: Your writer should be quick to respond to messages and answer questions. They should also be prepared to keep you updated as the project progresses so you're never in-the-dark if delays or schedule changes happen.
Timely work: Technical writers should never wait until the last minute to start work on a project. If anything, they should be ahead of schedule! Look for a writer who demonstrates great organization and good time management skills.
Receptive to feedback: All writers know that the revision process plays a crucial role in finalizing the perfect piece of content, which is why the writer you hire should be receptive to feedback and minor requests.
While some of these traits can be tough to evaluate before you hire a writer, you can look to the writer's samples, profile, and reviews to help you understand if they live up to these standards. Asking questions about their writing process and planned approach to your project will also prove beneficial.
Find The Best Technical Writer for Your Project
Are you searching for the right technical writer to help your enterprise with its content needs? Scripted's database of over 7,000 professional writers is here to help. With writers across niches and industries, including a large database of technical content writers, Scripted can help you find the perfect content creator for your technical writing project.
With fully-managed and self-service tiers, Scripted is the ideal solution for content creation, whether you have a few projects to get done or on-going content needs. Get started today.