I’ve spent the last 15 years in the software industry, and I get 10 to 15 emails a day from various software companies. All of them want to share a white paper, a case study, or an article, and they hope I’ll read them.
I’m a curious person and generally read most of them, but the articles seem to have one thing in common. The content is boring, and it’s challenging to read more than two pages.
Here’s how technical writing often works in a software company…
- There is a centralized “Content Management/Information Architecture” team.
- The content team receives material from software developers who are excited to share the new features of the product.
- The content writer has the necessary technical skills and will do his best to process the information.
- The writer gets to work and shares the features in the best way possible, but often uses language that’s stiff and too technical.
The result is generally a difficult-to-read article, white paper, or case study.
Now, instead, there’s a simple way to turn the boring technical content into engaging content. Here are five simple ways to create stories readers are more likely to read and share.
1. Interview the development team
Teams of technologists build all technology products. Where there is a team, there is a story. Sometimes it’s long days and nights, or a tale of a hero saving the release from failing. If you are curious to know, the team will share it. You can take their story and combine it with the content to create new material that sells.
2. Improve your product knowledge
Over the years, I’ve found that the technical audience has two distinct characteristics:
- They’re impatient. As technologists think logically, they always want to skim through your content instead of reading it.
- They read to learn. Your audience has so many ways to consume content, with YouTube on the top of the list. The only reason any tech person reads is to learn more about a specific topic. You must deliver the learning experience, or your content will not get any attention.
The only way to exceed your technical audiences’ expectations is to go deep into the topic and deliver a learning experience they cannot get through any other channel.
Now, you can only achieve this if you have good knowledge of the product you’re promoting, so you have to focus on improving your product knowledge every day.
3. Peer Reviews
If you’re part of a content team or even an accountability group, you probably share your draft with someone you trust for a quick review. Unfortunately, this approach doesn’t work as well when you write technical content as you and your peers probably have the same level of knowledge about the product.
A better idea is to do a peer review for your technical content with a Subject Matter Expert (SME).
What do I mean by that?
Every product team will have a Subject Matter Expert (SME) or go-to person. You should ask the SME of the product to review your content. The SME can provide the golden nuggets you need about the product that will make your content shine.
Average content with great packaging will perform better than great content with bad packaging.
So, what is packaging?
It is the silver lining for your content. Anything that stirs the curiosity of the reader to read your content. You can use your creative skills to add an infographic, relevant quotes, etc.
The first page of your content provides you an opportunity to create an impact. Use it wisely.
5. Add a bonus
You should always deliver more than you promise. The easiest way to do it is through a question, “How can I add more value?” When you ask this question, your brain will come up with multiple answers.
Here are some effective bonuses you can include:
- A printable infographic with valuable information.
- A cheat sheet.
- An audio recording of the content. Your readers can consume the information without spending extra time to read it.
I’ve tried all five ways and have gotten great results. So, go ahead and give them a try and make your technical articles exciting and fun to read.