For years now, I have written articles and blogs for organisations on some pretty hefty subject matter. And by hefty, I mean technical. Suffice to say, I have lots of experience condensing complex subjects into easily digestible content. In this article I’ll show you how you can also do the same.
For me, I enjoy learning. I love technology. And I particularly like automation and AI and how it is being applied to enhance business performance. But it can be tricky to know where to start writing about such fast-moving technology. So where do you begin?
Understand your target audience
This is vital when writing anything. But it is particularly important in technical writing. Who are you communicating your message to? Are they tech-savvy and at the buying stage or are you seeking to educate them on the benefits of technology? You will need to know.
Key messaging map
Whenever I start copywriting for a new client, I’ll usually complete a key messaging map. This is important for anything I write, but crucial for technical copywriting. It almost acts as an extension of an organisation’s brand guidelines. It serves to clarify key messaging, tone of voice and who they wish to aim their technical content at.
The map is broken down into three key areas; positioning, target audience and proposition.
This was something I was taught over 17 years ago. It has served me well as a public relations consultant and copywriter.
Write about the problem, not just the solution
Write about the problem first and about your solution second.
I know I say this quite a lot. If you teach someone something, you will gain their trust. And if you can offer them a solution to a specific problem, even better.
When writing about a new product or service, the temptation is to talk about the solutions it affords. Unfortunately, too many writers skip a vital step in their content writing. They forget, or glance over, the need to ‘sell the problem’ to the reader.
It’s important to take the reader on a journey. They might not even realise they have a problem that needs a solution until you present the very idea to them.
Revert to your key messaging map to decide who you want your article to talk to and what problems your technical solution can resolve.
Choose your subject carefully
This is crucial. You must have a fair amount of expertise on the subject you are writing on. Never prepare a technical article on a topic where you have knowledge gaps. The best way to know if you have enough information is to segment your article into sections. Then list the key technical points you are going to cover along with any research facts and figures. Where you can, include working examples and link through to case studies if you are publishing a technical blog.
Structure your content
You’ll want to tell a story. It doesn’t matter that your content is technical in nature. Humans will respond better to content that is logically ordered and takes them on a journey. If you confuse them for, even for a second, you will simply lose them.
Your introduction should act as a summary; a nod to the story you are about to tell. For a technical article, you’ll want to be clear about what the existing problem is and why it matters to the reader. What the technology or solution is and how it is different to other approaches and what the results are.
Very early on, readers will want to know your content is living up to the promise of your headline and introduction. Make sure the first couple of paragraphs expand on the subject. With every sentence you write, you should ask yourself; will the reader care and am I sharing information they need to know? Are they learning something new?
You need to be cautious in how you use subheadings within a technical article. If used too frequently they can make the content feel a bit too stunted. The same rule applies for bullet-pointed lists, which can dramatically lessen the conversational tone of the article.
Always do your research
Even if you know the technology inside out, you must do your research. Think how embarrassing it would be if you were to speak about the benefits of a vendor’s software only to find out they have released a new update.
Also, before you write your article, make sure you are offering unique insights. Check out the competition to make sure they haven’t already written a similar article. Or if they have, think how you can elevate your technical content by taking a new angle.
Do a refined news search on Google for your subject area, check out the news pages of your governing industry body and look at your top sector news channels. These can all provide you with useful data and further information. But do remember to link to and reference your sources of information. You instantly lose credibility if you do not do this. Plus, it’s common courtesy to credit where you discovered the information from.
Choose your words carefully
Adjectives are a useful way of maintaining interest, if not overused. Use adjectives that accurately describe the value of your proposition; scalable, agile, cost-effective, or high-performing.
Avoid using ‘etc’. Your technical article should be offering exact advice. Unless the answer is extremely obvious, it is best not to use it.
Likewise, be cautious with acronyms. Now I know the tech world is full of acronyms, but before you frequently use one, make sure it is well known. AI, for instance, is widely known, but RPA less so! Always reference the acronym, in full, on the first mention of it within your copy.
Do not write a marketing piece
Do not tell the reader how great your product or service is. Instead, prove it by showing how much knowledge you have on the topic. You’ll want to take the emphasis off the product itself being the solution to a technical issue. Instead, focus on the technical features of your product and why the technology is important.
Since you own the content and the article or blog will be by-lined to you, the reader will make the connection that you are an expert manufacturer or supplier of the technology. And if you want to say, “Download our whitepaper to see how automation can dramatically reduced your operational costs”, the call-to-action at the end of the article is the place to do it!