rewrite-edit Hands-on experience in technical writing

With practice, we get better at writing. Tips and ideas to get started as a technical writer.

If you’re interested in getting into technical writing as a career, either as a student about to graduate or someone who wants to transition into technical communication, you may wonder how can I get hands-on experience to add to my resume? The short answer is “practice, practice, practice.”

The key to building up a resume is to write and get published. Every time you write documentation or publish an article, you build up new experience that you can add to your resume. Employers in technical communication are usually interested in two things: your writing style and your ability to work to a deadline. You can demonstrate your writing style by developing a body of work. And to do that, you need to write. Here are a few ideas you can use to build experience in technical writing:

Write articles for websites

The secret in online publishing is that most content-driven websites are actually hungry for new articles. If you find a website that has articles published on some regular schedule, look for a “write for us” or “contact us” link. This is usually in the website’s header or footer. A “write for us” link will usually be obvious, and the page it links to will contain more information about what types of articles they are most interested in, and how new authors can submit new article ideas.

If you can’t find a “write for us” link on the website, don’t despair yet. Many websites will gladly accept submitted articles. Reach out to the editor of the publication and ask about writing an article for them.

Some websites pay for articles, but community websites usually do not. The flip side to this is that it’s usually much easier to contribute new articles to community-based websites. If you offer an article that’s on-topic for what the website is about, most community websites will run it.

Paid-article websites typically only accept articles from authors who have been published elsewhere first. After you’ve contributed a small body of work to other, community-based websites, you might approach paid-article websites. Because the editors pay authors for every article published on the site, these websites usually require authors to submit a “pitch” for articles they want to write. An editor must approve the article before they will consider it for publication.

Writing about technology

You don’t have to be an expert in a topic to write about it. Especially when writing for community websites, anyone can write about a topic they know something about. The most important thing when writing an article is that you should find it interesting; readers will know when you are writing just to write and they will quickly get bored and click away. Instead, focus on topics that you find personally rewarding. Your audience will enjoy reading your articles if you enjoy writing them.

A good place to start are websites and magazines about open source software. Many of these are community-driven, so there’s often a low barrier to entry. And because it’s about open source software, you can get started just by downloading an interesting open source application, trying it out, and writing an article about what you learned. Here are starting points for a few articles you might write:

Download LibreOffice and try it out. Experiment with opening other documents, and write an article like “3 things I learned about importing and exporting Word documents with LibreOffice Writer.” You might share your article with an open source website like

Try a Linux distribution and write an article about your experience. Many Linux distributions offer a “Live” image that you can use on your computer without installing anything. This may run slower than a “native” installation of Linux, but it should give you a good idea what the Linux desktop is like. Write an article about “My first impressions with the Fedora Linux Live Image.” Fedora Magazine is a great opportunity to write about all things “Fedora” and they welcome new contributors.

Experiment with an open source application and write about what you learned. For example, you could write an article like “5 things I taught myself how to do with Scribus over a weekend.” You can publish an article like this on any website about open source software, including Linux Journal.

Writing about writing

At Technically We Write, we always welcome new authors. You can write on any topic that’s related to technical and professional communication, including technical writing, editing, web SEO, usability, and writing tools and technologies like LibreOffice Writer, Microsoft Word, LaTeX, groff, DITA, HTML, Markdown, and any other topic about technical or professional writing. Get started with your first article by contacting our editors.