It’s important that technical writers start off on the right foot when working on a new project. You need to know the product and audience, as well as understand your client’s expectations before you start producing content for them. Before you start writing, you should:
• Read the products website, marketing materials, and end-user documentation. Quick start guides often provide a holistic view of the product and are a great way to get up to speed.
• Make sure you understand how it works, what it does, and why it does it.
• You must know who the product is for so that you can write to them effectively.
• Get familiar with how the product looks and behaves. Test the product if possible.
• Introduce yourself to the client and their team, ask questions as early as possible, and get an understanding of their expectations.
• Discuss with the client existing content and campaigns that they like.
• Maintain ongoing communication.
By the time you start writing you should:
• Understand what the product does, how it works, the value it provides.
• Be able to discuss the product confidently. You need a solid grounding so that if there is something you can’t figure out, you have the context to ask the right questions.
• Be ready to discuss criticisms. Sometimes the first draft doesn’t land, so you need to be able to figure out with the client what they like and don’t like and adapt to their expectations while ensuring that the qualities of a ‘great’ article that either meets SEO or audience purposes are met.
Technical writers that really understand the products they create content for bring more than just writing services to development teams. As someone with fresh eyes on the project, you’re well positioned to help your client identify the aspects of their product that may be misunderstood, or why its value isn’t currently being effectively communicated to their potential customers.