Being a freelance writer can open up many new horizons, especially when you work for a company as diverse as WordHound. Did you know, for example, that dimmer switches were invented in 1959? I didn’t. Easy access to material makes research today a simple matter, and means I can write about anything from the biochemical properties of medicinal plants to predictive maintenance and digital twins. These are some things I’ve learned in several years of writing for a favourite client…
Knowing your client is essential
Rowse are technical distributors, which means that they often want descriptions of their products, or a blog about how these work in a complex system. They’re very helpful in giving me pointers to websites where I can get to grips with what I’m going to be talking about. If I’m really stuck, they’re always happy to provide explanations or more material.
For an actual object like an electrical component, I start by looking at Rowse’s product listing and seeing a picture of the item. There’s usually also a description, though this is often limited to basic specifications and technicalities that I don’t necessarily understand. When it’s a question of a whole system like servo pneumatics, this won’t be enough because there are too many contributory parts.
Internet searches are a reasonable starting point
That means I’ll have to Google “servo pneumatics” and see what comes up. The problem with these results is that they’re typically reproduced from a common source, and WordHound is all about original content. The lowest common denominator is usually a Wikipedia entry, but Wikipedia isn’t peer-reviewed. This means the information hasn’t been checked by an expert, so shouldn’t be relied on. I will sometimes use Wikipedia as a last resort, but only to confirm that I’m on the right track.
Checking out the oppo is useful
The better move is to skim some manufacturer and competitor blogs, to see what they include. I’ll typically select information from three or four similar pieces so that I have enough material to make an original new one. As the blog is a technical brief, it needs to be accurate, but it should also incorporate requested keywords – and be readable! The main remit for Rowse is to make complex technical descriptions comprehensible to the layperson, so I try to strip out any bewildering jargon.
It’s often fun
The great thing about writing for Rowse is that their content is so varied. They keep up to date with the latest technological advances, and often want blogs about general interest topics like Artificial Intelligence. I’m a huge sci-fi nerd and I love investigating anything like AI. Since I’m not a scientist or an engineer, it’s constantly pushing the boundaries of my understanding. I can almost feel my brain stretching to accommodate the technicalities, but I’m amazed at the things I learn when researching this kind of material. I’ll never have any practical use for it, but it’s exciting to know that I can simplify material like this to a level where (for example) university students find it accessible.
Academic rigour is frequently a must
When I’m given something really complex, I often revert to Google Scholar. This is where I’ll find leading academic articles, penned by scientists and engineers, who really do know what they’re talking about. Most of these require a subscription to read the whole article, but some have uploaded full-length PDFs, and most have an abstract summarising the whole paper. It’s demanding to assimilate, but at least it comes direct from the top.
Writing fairly technical material for a company like Rowse won’t be for every writer, of course. But for me, it keeps my grey matter supple, and provides regular challenges which I (usually!) enjoy – as well as regular work for an expanding business.