When to hire a technical writer or a content writer

When should your business hire a freelance technical writer versus a content writer? Understanding where and when to apply each writing style will help you choose the most effective force in your content production. 

Recognized for precision and catering to specialized audiences, technical writing appeals to subject matter experts requiring detail-oriented analyses. Technical writing includes deliverables such as user guides, instruction manuals, and business proposals. In contrast, content writers can span a broad spectrum of subjects and write to sustain general readers with accessible, introductory, and engaging language. Content writing includes blog articles, landing page content, and social media posts. 


audience for content writing

Who are you creating content for? Knowing the needs of your audience will guide the choice of language, style, and approach. Here, we explore how these writing types differ in terms of target readers:

A. Technical Writing Audience:

Technical writing typically caters to a specialized and often expert audience often including high-ranking professionals. Some key points about the audience for technical writing include:

  • Subject Matter Experts: Technical writers often address professionals who are well-versed in the subject matter. Creating content for this audience necessitates a high degree of technical accuracy and precision.
  • Specific Knowledge: The audience for technical documentation typically has in-depth knowledge about the topic and requires detailed, specification-focused information.
  • Formal and Objective: Given the expertise of the audience, technical writing maintains a formal, objective tone. It aims to present information clearly and without ambiguity.

We are technical writers & content writers

Contact us to fully manage your content writing or technical writing.

B. Content Writing Audience:

Content writing, on the other hand, is geared towards a broader and more general readership, with many topics involving subject matter introductions. The audience for content writing varies widely and can include:

  • General Readers: Content writers create material for the general public, so their audience is not limited to experts. This includes readers from all walks of life and diverse backgrounds.
  • Diverse Interests: Content writing covers a wide range of topics, applying products and services to any particular audience depending on industry or lifestyle. 
  • Engagement and Connection: Content writing often seeks to engage, entertain, or inform readers while establishing a connection. Content writers often use a conversational tone and storytelling techniques to capture and hold the audience's attention.

In a nutshell, technical writers must concisely communicate complex ideas to a knowledgeable audience, while content writers aim to engage and inform a broader range of readers. Consequently, the tone, style, and approach taken in each form of writing are tailored to these distinct audiences.

Both technical writing and content writing can be leveraged to enhance marketing efforts. While content writing such as blog articles, whitepapers, social posts, and landing pages is commonly attributed to aiding in the sales process, technical content has a role to play as well. Technical content marketing utilizes content such as product specifications and getting started guides to help prospects further understand, convert, and even evolve users into power users.

Style and Tone

content writing

The style and tone in which a piece of writing is crafted play a significant role in distinguishing when to hire a technical writer or content writer. These aspects are essential in conveying appropriate messaging while effectively engaging the intended audience.

A. Technical Writing Style and Tone:

  • Formal and Structured: Technical writing maintains a formal and structured style. It adheres to protocols and standards, ensuring that the information is presented in a methodical and organized manner. This formality helps prevent misunderstandings and errors in fields where precision is critical.
  • Impersonal and Objective: The tone in technical writing is typically impersonal and objective. Writers avoid personal opinions or emotional language. Instead, they focus on delivering facts, data, and instructions impartially.
  • Clarity and Conciseness: Clarity is paramount in technical writing. Technical writers strive to communicate complex ideas and procedures clearly and concisely, using precise terminology and jargon relevant to the field. The goal is to leave no room for ambiguity.

B. Content Writing Style and Tone:

  • Conversational and Creative: Content writing generally takes a conversational approach to relate with readers and hold their attention. Content writers aim to draw the audience in, often employing storytelling techniques, metaphors, and analogies to make the content more captivating and easy to digest.
  • Adaptability: Content writing is highly adaptable in terms of style and tone. It can range from the casual and friendly tone of a lifestyle blog to the authoritative tone of a news article or the persuasive tone of marketing copy. The choice depends on the subject matter and target audience.
  • Emotional Engagement: Content writers often aim to evoke emotions, whether it's laughter, empathy, or inspiration. Emotional engagement is a powerful tool for retaining readers' attention and creating a content journey.

Understanding these differences in style and tone is essential for businesses to effectively convey their message and achieve their writing goals. Technical writing prioritizes clarity and precision where details are crucial, as in instruction manuals and software development guides. Content writing emphasizes engagement and creativity to move users down a funnel, such as a strategic website journey or a captivating and shareable social media post. The choice of style and tone should align with the business or campaign objectives and intended audience.

Revision and Editing

content writing for seo

Both technical writing and content writing benefit greatly from thorough revision and editing. However, the specific focus and considerations in the revision process differ between the two types of writing.

A. Technical Writing:

  • Emphasis on Precision and Clarity: In technical writing, the primary goal of the revision process is to ensure precision and clarity. Writers and editors scrutinize the content to eliminate any ambiguity, inaccuracies, and errors that may be confusing to the expert audience or cause potential issues with end users.
  • Peer Review and Validation: Technical documents may undergo peer review or validation by subject matter experts to confirm accuracy. The revision process may involve collaboration with these experts to ensure that the content is factually correct.
  • Documentation of Changes: Changes made during the revision process are documented meticulously. This is crucial for accountability and traceability, especially in fields where errors can have significant consequences.

B. Content Writing:

  • SEO Optimization: Content writers often pay attention to search engine optimization (SEO) during the revision process, including optimizing content for specific keywords to improve search engine visibility.
  • A/B Testing: In digital marketing and content optimization, A/B testing may be conducted to compare different versions of content to determine which performs better regarding user engagement and conversion rates.
  • User Feedback and Iteration: Content writers often take user feedback into account when revising content. User comments, social media interactions, and analytics data may influence revisions to make the content more appealing to the target audience.

In both cases, revision and editing are indispensable steps to ensure the quality and effectiveness of the written material. However, the specific goals, standards, and methods applied during the revision process vary to suit the objectives and audience of technical writing and content writing.


technical writing vs content writing

The distinctions between technical writing and content writing are significant, revolving around the audience, style, subject matter, structure, and purpose of the writing. Understanding these differences is essential for businesses looking to find technical writers or content writers to accurately relay product, service, or procedural documentation to a respective audience.

Whether your business needs technical writers or content writers, our expert staff is ready to integrate into your team to assist. Our technical writing services will provide you with technical content that helps promote your product or service while keeping operations and services running consistently and effectively. We additionally provide robust content writing services to help discover and guide prospective clients down your funnel. Contact us today to see how our experienced writing team can help. 

Get more from us

Join our email list to receive insights into documentation and technical marketing.

Thank you for subscribing to our newsletter!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Made with ❤️ and 🌮 in Austin, Texas and serving worldwide