[How To] Find a Technical Writing Niche

Tom Peters says, “the value of services will continue to fall” and that the only way to survive is to differentiate yourself from the competition. Is this true? How do you as a technical writer make yourself stand out from the crowd? If you don’t, what impact could this have on your career?

How to Differentiate Yourself as a Technical Writer

Here are five suggestions to do this:

  1. Video Blogging – use your Camtasia skills to create videos that show how products work. Cisco is doing a great job in this area. They gave flip cameras to the IT people and encouraged them to make short, snappy videos that show how to use their hardware, networks, and systems. Which would you prefer? To read 20 pages or watch a 3 minute video?
  2. Screencasting Training – now that you know how to make the videos, why not use this to teach others to do this same. Position yourself as a screen-casting expert, setup the blog, get involved, and show others how this works. FWIW there is a very active video marketing group on LinkedIn (http://www.linkedin.com/in/ivanwalsh) that you may want to join.
  3. Web-based Training – if you’ve spent years writing guides, you must have developed an in-depth knowledge of 2 or 3 fields. See which of these are most in demand (Google searches and forums will be a starting point) and then develop training modules that you can present online. Lynda.com does a great job in offering training over the web. Sign up with them and see how it works.
  4. Social Media Writing – you know how to write, right? Well, most people don’t. As Social Media continues to explode leverage your writing skills and show (“the benefit o f communicating well on Facebook is…”) others how to get their message across on these Social Network. Look at how Debbie Weil does it. http://www.debbieweil.com
  5. Business English – the upside of all these jobs getting shipped to India, China, Brazil is that their Management teams want to do more business in the west. How can you help them write better reports, communicate more clearly, protect them from being misunderstood – you get the idea!

These are just five ways you can stand out from the crowd and position yourself as a specialist. My suggestion is to look at who is doing this right, e.g. Debbie Weil, and study them diligently. Then develop an action plan and start getting the rewards you deserve.

What other careers can you think of? Is it possible to differentiate yourself as a Technical Writer? How would you do it?

PS: Tom Peters is here: Thriving on Chaos: Handbook for a Management Revolution and Debbie Weil The Corporate Blogging Book: Absolutely Everything You Need to Know to Get It Right is here.