What’s the difference between a freelance technical writer and a technical marketer?

Technical writer or freelance technology content marketer: which do you need? Image: PXHere.com

Many clients in the technology space, at some point during their marketing activities, decide that they need to hire a freelance resource to help produce writing deliverables.

But not everybody is clear on the difference between technical writers and freelance technical marketers.

When do you need the first and when do you need the second? Here’s a quick explainer to help break down the differences.

What’s A Technical Writer?

A technical writer is a writer who specializes in helping companies communicate how to use a product.

They are essentially information communicators. Their job isn’t to persuade a prospective customer to consider buying a product or service. Rather, their goal is to help the user — or the end-user — to actually make use of the tool provided by the company who they work for.

Technical writers typically spend the lion’s share of their time writing documentation. That documentation can even be internally focused — for instance, they might work on putting together a knowledge-base of instructions to be shared over a company’s intranet. Or it might be external. A common example of the latter would be drafting API documentation to help integrators and technical partners to interact with a SaaS company’s API.

Some common outputs that technical writers would produce include:

  • API documentation
  • User manuals
  • Diagrams

Technical writers tend to be proficient at working in specialist software programs that have strong in-built features for revision logging and version control. This is because keeping precise records of changes to documentation is fundamental to the success of drafting processes in which multiple stakeholders — including subject matter experts (SMEs) — can be involved.

If you need a freelance writer to help you document your software or to write a user manual to assist your customers, then a freelance technical writer is likely your best port of call.

What’s A Freelance Technical Marketer?

Many writers these days earn their livelihoods primarily through helping companies produce content marketing.

Content marketers work on creating “content” to help attract and develop inbound leads to move them further down marketing and sales funnels.

This “content” could take the form of:

  • Blog posts
  • White papers
  • Ebooks
  • Podcasts
  • Video scripts

There is a large demand for content marketers from companies in the technology space. For instance: technology-focused startups or AI platforms might require content marketers just as any other organization investing in inbound marketing might.

However, because these companies might offer products or services that are highly technical, they tend to look for freelancers that themselves have a strong degree of technical knowledge.

This is where freelance technical marketers come into the picture. Confusingly, these individuals might describe themselves as “technical writers” but they work on producing marketing assets and collateral rather than documentation.

  • Where technical writers work on producing informational resources, freelance technical marketing writers will work on developing collateral and resources for the marketing team

Freelance technical content writers don’t typically need to use specialist drafting and writing tools in order to produce their outputs. Even though some of what they write may require the input of SMEs — such as white papers — the versioning tools baked into most drafting tools, like Google Docs, are typically enough to get the job done. This isn’t to say that there aren’t freelance content marketers who do use advanced drafting tools. Just that it isn’t typically a requirement.

“Freelance technical marketer” is a term of art rather than a precise definition. Such writers may also describe themselves as:

  • Freelance content marketers for technology companies
  • Freelance technology marketers
  • Technical freelance writers

If you’re looking for a freelance technology marketer to help develop content marketing and thought leadership for your organization, then consider checking out my website at DSRGhostwriting.com.

Thought leadership ghostwriter for technology clients and non-fiction books. Site: DSRGhostwriting.com. Book: amzn.to/2C3jkZS

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