If you're thinking about hiring a technical writer vs content writer, then there are some things to know. These two job titles may seem quite similar on the surface, but technical writing and content writing are based on two very different concepts, even if their work processes overlap. If you’re interested in finding out which services you should choose, read on to discover the difference between a content writer and technical writer.
What’s the difference between a content writer and technical writer?
Put simply, a content writer is someone who creates everything from web pages to blogs, reviews, social media posts and even print media. A good content writer will always bear search engine optimisation and keywords in mind, with the aim of reaching a specific audience and attracting new readers to websites.
On the other hand, a technical writer creates content for tutorials, user guides, manuals and product specifications. They seek to simplify complex wording while ensuring the information provided remains authentic, scientific and relevant to the topic. Often, a strict format is followed and the tone is more professional, and a technical writer will usually have greater knowledge about a certain subject matter.
Although excellent grammar, spelling and punctuation are expectations from both types of professional, there are skills that are specific to each role.
For example, content writing aims to grab the reader’s attention quickly and hold it, so if there is a message to get across they will seek to do so swiftly. A content writer will also need to work closely with the business they’re creating content for in order to understand their goals and tone of voice.
Alternatively, technical writing seeks to deliver complex information in a more precise way. Technical writers will often need to sift through a vast amount of data about a product in order to understand and restructure the information so a layman can interpret it. Depending on the client’s end goals, this will require a lot of research, so research skills are a must.
Both content writers and technical writers will work with the client to understand any deadlines that need to be met, although a technical writer usually follows a documentation plan while a content writer will work off a content plan.
Good communication is key to both occupations, as each role will require the writer to talk with their manager or client to gain specific task details and insights necessary for the content. Writers may also able to attend meetings and reach out to subject-matter experts for advice and guidance, depending on the remit of the brief. For instance, if they’re writing user manuals or tutorials, a technical writer might be happy to attend QA and development meetings in order to communicate with developers.
What is the role of a technical content writer?
As technical writers require a broad knowledge of a certain field, they will often have higher education in a specific area of writing so that they can produce great quality technical writing. Writing texts of a technological nature is a big responsibility so technical authors usually have a niche skill set and can command a higher fee. Usually, technical writers will create:
- Instruction manuals for the operation or maintenance of hardware and equipment
- Descriptions of production systems
- Articles and documents on legal topics
- User manuals for software and programs
- Product specifications for electronics and consumer equipment
- Documentation which accompanies equipment and software instructions
- Memos and FAQs for specific industries
- Descriptions of the operating principles for devices and mechanisms
Just some of the sectors that use technical writers include manufacturing, finance, energy, consulting, medical and engineering. However, in the digital age, technical writing is spreading into other fields.
Just like content writers, many technical authors are now aware that they need to be able to provide clear information or instructions for a certain audience, so technical writers may also work in broadcasting, telecommunications, health, transport, publishing and much more.
Is there anything else to know?
An important factor to bear in mind when it comes to working with a technical writer is conveying who the audience is. This can vary dramatically; some technical writers will explain how products, programs or software work to the general public, whereas others are more embedded in the industry.
A great technical writer is able to explain the context, the results and the ‘how-to’ steps of the product, program or software they’re writing about.
What is the role of a content writer?
Unlike technical writing, the goal of content writing can vary based on what is being written. For example, social media posts need to be short yet intriguing, offering something new or unique which will encourage people to share them. On the other hand, reviews must be persuasive in order to convince the reader to buy a certain product, and landing pages must be clear and succinct, guiding readers to take a particular action.
Content writing doesn’t require the writer to have a deep understanding of the subject they’re writing about. Most of what they need to know will be available on the internet, so writers can do plenty of research before they begin. Usually, content writers will be asked to create:
- blog posts
- web pages
- press releases
- social media posts
- category pages
- white papers
- thought leadership pieces
- case studies
- how-to guides
- marketing emails
Is there anything else to know?
Although content writers are often tasked with writing copy for a range of sectors and industries, they do have different skill sets. For example, some of the different types of content writer include brand, SEO and digital writers, as well as lead generation, influencer and advertising writers.
As with the types of content they produce, some content writers will also have a preference for writing about different subjects that they have greater knowledge and awareness of, though there are many skilled content writers able to turn their hand to different subjects.
✏️If you're looking to hire a content writer or technical copywriter, speak to us at Copify today about our content creation services.
Main image credit: stevepb