What’s the difference?

How many technical writers like me receive calls from agencies trying to source a content writer? It is not uncommon as many writing jobs these days appear under the banner of Content Writer. If you want to choose a suitable writer, read on.

One day, I had to explain the difference between our two titles—comparing my technical authoring skill set to that of a content writer.

Would you know the differences between a content writer and a technical author? If you get it wrong, it will be a costly mistake.

So, what do you know about the following job titles?

      • Technical writer
      • Documentation manager
      • Content Writer
      • Content strategist
      • Content manager
      • Information governance

Technical Writer

First, we have the most comprehensive skill set. We take complex information and make it accessible to people needing to accomplish a task or goal. We must comprehend the process and produce instructions with diagrams.

Before starting a large project, I would ask if they have a strategy identifying the essential documents (the MUST haves). If not, I will create one with a timeline that identifies the production of critical documentation using MoSCoW. Process authors write:

      • Policies
      • Processes
      • Work Instructions
      • Standards
      • How to guide?

We use SharePoint to manage and control documents. 

In the software industry, you can write a wide range of documents, such as

      • user guides,
      • detailed design specs,
      • requirement docs,
      • white papers, and
      • manage a back catalogue of previous records.

Technical Author’s Skill-set

      • Communication skills to write the narrative around the document
      • focussed on detail – without it, the user could make mistakes, or worse, throw the paper away as useless
      • create a consistent process everyone can follow
      • teamwork – impossible to create documents without SMEs
      • technical skills to understand the terminology
      • writing skills go without saying
      • document management,

Document Controller/manager

This role aligns with technical authors; the duties of this role will depend on the industry type. A document manager oversees organisational documents used by employees.

Content Writer and Manager

Content writing produces engaging content for the Web. They’re also responsible for setting the overall tone of the website. Content writers accomplish these tasks by researching and deciding what information to include or exclude from the site.

There are many variations and opinions if you read up on various sites regarding the skill set. These are the most commonly mentioned:

      • Writing skills
      • Focus
      • Originality
      • Research
      • Customer knowledge
      • SEO and
      • Editorial skills

Content Strategist

The job is to create engaging content that resonates with customers and draws. The writer may have significant knowledge of the business. 

Information governance (IG)

IG is a strategy to manage information to maintain compliance requirements and operational transparency. Organisations must have consistent policies and procedures for distributing content. IG lends itself to information security, storage, knowledge management, business operations, and data management.

The differences. . .

Technical and content writers have common goals, such as solid writing and editorial and research skills. However, what the roles create in terms of content are different. Technical writing requires more specific knowledge. The clue is in the title; we produce technical content.

    • Technical writing must be objective and precise, with no personal opinions.
    • Content writing can contain an author’s opinion, figures of style, etc.
    • Finally, technical writers use a wide range of tools for writing, while Google Docs may be enough for content writing.

To get the job done, choose a suitable writer for your project.