Programmer and Technical Writer
With the emphasis on the customer-centric approach that is now prevalent, more companies have begun to expose their software code through APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) to enable the customization of their products. In some cases, customers pay additional charges to purchase and customize a product’s code. For customers to be able to tweak an application’s code to suit their organization’s needs, they require reference materials that enable them to understand the code. Thus, the companies providing APIs for their code must create references describing the code to which their customers can refer. If you have an interest in programming languages and writing code, learn about coding and start writing API documentation.
Having programming skills can enable you to write sample applications that demonstrate specific technologies or show how an API works, without your having to depend on developers. While your job might not require you to develop applications, you may occasionally need to write sample code to show how a particular piece of code works, research and understand the features or functions of an application or solution, and translate that knowledge into written documentation.
As a technical writer who has programming skills, you can develop API documentation to which your customers’ developers refer when customizing your product. You’ll be engaged in writing technical references, API guides, and documenting programming techniques, as well as writing sample code. While technical writers do not require programming skills to excel in their work, gaining such skills always gives you an edge over other writers.
Analyst and Technical Writer
If you are less than enthusiastic about learning programming, you can instead sharpen your analyst skills. As a technical writer, you already function as an analyst about 90% of the time. You gather requirements, then analyze and prioritize them. Sometimes, when you get the opportunity to use a product, you also point out necessary improvements and errors. As a technical writer who is also an analyst, you document or define business processes. You may also perform functional testing to ensure that the software satisfies all requirements. You should also be aware of ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library) practices.
As an analyst, you must develop thorough knowledge about a product, be able to analyze current processes, propose changes that would improve usability and functionality, and review processes to ensure the correctness of their implementation in code. You may also be responsible for developing requirements documentation and coordinating requirements walkthroughs and signoffs, verifying with stakeholders that the information captured in the requirements accurately portrays their business needs. By enhancing your analytical skills, you can function as both a technical writer and an analyst.
Blogger and Technical Writer
The times are changing. The traditional ways of providing product information are taking a back seat to social media and blogging. Because social media influence customers’ buying patterns, more and more organizations are turning toward blogging. Blogging on social media or your company’s Web site has become a more effective way of advertising products and providing product information. Moreover, blogs are more interactive than traditional methods of marketing.
As a blogger, you’ll not only be responsible for writing the content, but must also have skills that enable you to manage blogging communities and requests for guest posts, as well as analyze Web-analytics data to gauge the content’s performance. Plus, you must become adept at search engine optimization, writing content in a way that it gets more pageviews. If you have a creative streak, this may be the perfect combination for you.