How To Be An Awesome Tech Writer
I’ve been writing for technology sites for over a year now, and although tech writers are no different from other writers, I’ve learned there’s quite a specific set of qualities you need to have to stand out in a male-dominated industry. Despite the fact that there are more men than women in tech, the same standards apply when writing for a subject that is as complex as technology. There are no excuses, and your audience are mostly experts on their own. So how do you keep up? Here are a few tips I can share from my own experience as a tech writer.
Know your stuff
This goes for all other kinds of writing, but the requirement to know what you’re writing about is even higher when you’re writing for technology. Tech readers are ruthless, and sometimes may even be more knowledgeable and updated than you. If there’s a particular area about your article that’s not quite clear to you, do a thorough research. Not a quick read in Wikipedia. Read news clips, reports and other blogs that have covered it in the past. Leave no stone unturned, and you’ll thank yourself for it.
Have an opinion
Facts become more relevant when supplemented with insight. If you explain a smartphone’s features from processor to its user interface, you’ll need to tell your readers what you think about it. Otherwise, your piece will read like a spec sheet rather than an article worthy of anyone’s time. It’s great to let readers know that a smartphone sports a 1.5 Ghz processor, but it’s even better if you tell them what makes that so damn impressive, and how that can benefit a user in real life.
Always, always read the news
Technology is an ever changing world. Companies change management or shut down almost overnight, acquisitions happen more often, and a dozen apps get updated on a daily basis. It’s important to keep track of major events that affect your area of expertise. I used to think this didn’t matter, but as I later found out, keeping tabs on the latest tech news should be part of my daily routine. News blogs in tech often publish a hot item ASAP, and you just might be the one to help them do that.
Choose your words
There are a million ways you can call a gizmo/gadget/device in the tech world, one more confusing than the next. If you’re not sure whether to write about a pen drive, a thumb drive or a USB key, your best bet would be to choose a term that might be generally acceptable — like “removable storage device”. But to avoid being vague, you can site and example of such. For instance, you can write: “Use a removable storage device, like a thumb drive, to store files and take it with you.” This way, people will know exactly what you mean, regardless if they know a little or a lot about the subject.
We obviously are hooked into some form of technology more than we care to admit. When writing a how-to guide, an app review or general technology news, give it a personal touch. Mention how an app has helped you study for a big exam, or what this particular news item will mean to ordinary people like you, or how your kids wanted to watch Indiana Jones by playing Temple Run. These factors are essential to make a connection to readers, and how it might affect their own lives.
Being a tech writer is fun yet demanding, but it truly pays for writing about what you love. Above all, you should have the passion for all things tech. If you’re naturally inclined towards this niche, then these things should be second nature to you over time. If not, then you now know where to start. Are you new to writing for tech or have you been at it since Windows 95? Your own advice is welcome in the comments below!