Awesome Authority: Building Your Qualifications as a Writer in Tech and Science
Modern technology and science writers are under higher levels of scrutiny when writing web content, as many businesses are seeking to obtain industry-related and niche authority. You don’t need to have a degree in technology or science to become an authority; if anything, the science and technology industry is one of the most open to educated amateurs. But you do need to be able to show that you have relevant and timely knowledge within the field.
Going Back to School — Sort Of
You probably don’t have enough time to actually head back to campus — and luckily, you don’t need to. Coursera, EdX and ALISON are a few of the free, certified online courses and certifications available that will help solidify your authority within the tech and science fields. And, of course, if you’re willing to pay for your certifications there’s always CompTIA and similar industry standards. A few classes in your chosen discipline will not only refresh your knowledge but will also give you new insight into your next projects.
Writing for Industry Magazines
Just as a business-focused writer can build authority by writing for Forbes under their byline, a tech or science-focused writer can build authority by writing for industry magazines. As an easy example, magazines such as WIRED have opinions and contributor’s sections. Not only does this build exposure within your chosen industry and give you an additional sample for your portfolio, but it also gives you a better feel for how your writing compares to the others within it. And about those samples…
Building Your Web Presence
No industry exists within a vacuum, but the science and tech industry is one in which networking is absolutely essential — especially to new writers looking to break into the field. A few specific things you can do to build presence and authority: engage with tech and science brands on Twitter, join industry-focused groups on LinkedIn and maintain a consistently updated industry-related blog. And you definitely want to create a portfolio; it’s difficult for clients to ascertain your knowledge within the industry without them.
Don’t Forget Your Sources
Building a solid reputation is all about producing great work, especially work with a byline. Tech and science writing requires some amount of intellectual discipline, as it often deals with facts, statistics and other verifiable information. Consequently, you will find that you need to be extremely conscientious about your sources. Take some time to verify your resources on multiple levels: whether there are competing opinions, whether the methodology was correct, whether you’ve located the original sources and whether there were appropriate sample sizes to substantiate claims. Many of the same standards of an academic thesis will still apply.
Clients today want to use writers who have already established themselves as experts within their field — and this does take time. But there’s also an upside. Technology and science writers can command very high rates of pay as they advance along their chosen specialization, and clients who invest time into finding the perfect writer are far more likely to be return clients later on.
Writer Bio: Jenna I once lived a former life as an IT professional, programmer and web developer, and brings that knowledge to her IT-focused work. In her spare time she collects large sample sizes.