The tech industry needs people with all kinds of skills – you don’t have to love maths, coding or electronics to get a rewarding job in tech.
We spoke to Katy Eddy, of Penryn-based writing agency Radix Communications, about her job as a technology copywriter – and why the tech industry needs writers too.
Katy, tell us a bit about what your work involves.
My job is to make complex technology understandable to business people. That means I’m mostly writing things like case studies, white papers, ebooks and blogs, for tech companies like Microsoft, Sprint and Xerox.
It’s actually a very varied job – it isn’t all writing. I do a lot of interviewing, to get the story out of people who have a lot of technical or marketing knowledge, but not necessarily the ability to put that into words.
And there’s a lot of research involved, because it’s important that we write convincingly and authoritatively and you can't do that with without reading a lot of background.
Why does the tech industry need copywriters?
It's an industry where experts tend to get hung up on technical information, the nuts and bolts of how their technology works. Our job is to condense that knowledge into something that clearly communicates its business value, because tech companies need businesses to buy their products.
What do you enjoy most about your work?
I really value having a job where I’m producing something. Every time something I’ve written for a client gets published, I save it in a folder of bookmarks. I had a look the other day and there are 70 pieces there now. It gives me a nice sense of satisfaction to look back at things I’ve created.
I really value having a job where I’m producing something. It gives me a nice sense of satisfaction to look back at things I’ve created.
What skills do you need to be good technology copywriter?
Obviously you need to be a good writer! But it’s not just that – you also need good research skills. You have to be able to be able to trawl through a lot of information and pick out the most relevant bits.
Often a client will give you a lot of background and you have to wade through it to find the important stuff. Or they won't give you very much at all, in which case you have to do your own research on the internet.
And this isn't quite a skill, but curiosity is important. The best writing comes from when you're nosy enough to dig further into the topic and think a bit more critically about it.
Curiosity is important. The best writing comes from when you're nosy enough to dig further into the topic and think critically about it.
For example, I've been writing a lot recently about serverless computing and edge computing. I’d never seen these words before I received the brief! So they’re the kinds of topic where you have to go digging to understand the technologies and the nuance behind them, so you can write content that’s useful.
How did you get into copywriting as a career?
I've always wanted to write in some way. But I didn’t think about a career in copywriting until I got a work placement with lighting designer Eleanor Bell, to write her website copy.
While I was working for Eleanor, I realised there was a copywriting agency – Radix – in the studio next door. I was chatting with one of their account managers one lunchtime, and she said they had a junior copywriter job going.
I was quite nervous about applying for it because it felt like a very niche role, and I wasn’t sure I was cut out for it. But I’d had some good experience writing for Eleanor, and lighting design is a very niche area with a specific set of terminology, just like B2B tech.
It helped that my dad is an electrician, so the knowledge I had from him helped me get the placement with Eleanor, and the work I did for Eleanor helped me get the job at Radix.
When you were 10 years old, did you think you would have a job as a writer?
I actually wanted to be a Navy diver, which is weird, because I don't like getting out of my depth! But I did also spend much of my childhood putting pieces of my writing in front of my parents, and they had to pretend it wasn’t terrible.
What subjects did you study – and did they help with your career?
I was always pretty focused. I did an English degree at Exeter, and for A-levels I took English literature and language, psychology and sociology – basically anything that required me to write essays.
Psychology has also helped in my copywriting career, because if your writing is designed to be compelling and convincing, it helps to have an idea of what's going on in your reader’s head.
What advice would you give to girls who’d like a career in writing?
It’s important to know there are more options than just fiction writing and journalism. People tend to think that writing for a living means one or other of those – but no one really thinks about the people who produce pretty much all of the writing you see everywhere.
As a young writer, I also benefited from getting involved in writing projects and competitions. I even did a play-writing residency when I was in secondary school.
And lastly, focusing on one type of writing doesn't preclude you from getting involved in others. Prior to this job, most of the writing I did was fiction. I've got nine terrible novels on a hard drive somewhere! But it wasn’t time wasted, because it’s all practice – and practice makes all of your writing easier and better.