My Professional and Technical Writing Personas

Screenshot of landing page on dbwolfe.com
Photo credit: Debbie Wolfe

My name is Debbie Wolfe. I’ve been a digital writer for over a decade. I have a BS in Earth Science and Creative Writing from Northland College. I spent the first half of my postgraduate career in cartography and satellite image analysis. I pivoted my career to writing after the birth of my second child. 

My foray into digital writing wasn’t a traditional path. I started a garden blog in 2013 to learn how to write for the web. As I learned how to navigate keywords and WordPress, my writing caught the attention of a newly created garden blog section on HGTV.com. I wrote for HGTV and sister sites for nearly eight years. I owe most of what I know about digital writing to those editors who guided me early in my career. 

After over 10 years of digital writing, I want to pivot again. Last week, I announced my updated About Me page. I use my website, dbwolfe.com, as a portfolio for published writing and photography. I’ve gotten work for years due to my combination of photography and writing skills. However, after this week’s readings, I may need separate personas for my photography and writing portfolios. I welcome any thoughts and suggestions.

Primary and Secondary Discourse Community

Most of my writing is instructional and geared towards new gardeners and DIYers. They are my primary audience. I also have a secondary audience comprising digital publishing staff such as editors and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) analysts. I used to think the communities were the same. In Technical Communication (Lannon & Gurak, 2011), the authors recommend keeping two audiences in mind when writing.

My primary discourse community consists of homeowners or renters around 35 or older. They have varying degrees of experience in gardening and home improvement. They expect clean, concise content with helpful information that helps them solve their problems. 

My secondary discourse community comprises editors with some hands-on experience on the topics I write. The digital publisher discourse community focuses primarily on trends and SEO. Although user experience is on their radar, it tends to be an afterthought. I bridge that gap while satisfying my clients and providing helpful content for the readers. 

Debbie’s Technical Writing Persona

I want to separate my professional writing persona from my technical writing persona. In my current writing, I rely on my experiences to help shape my content and use primary resources to corroborate my knowledge. As a technical writer, I learned that extensive research and removing personal experiences from my writing are essential. Objectivity is one of the cornerstones of technical writing and keeps your writing ethical (Balzotti, 2022). 

My technical writing persona will prioritize clear, concise, and reliable information, avoiding personal biases and opinions. I will provide accurate, objective content that is easily understandable by many readers. I will also prioritize organizing information logically and using appropriate technical terminology to enhance clarity and effectiveness. 

Maintaining Credibility and Professionalism

As a technical writer, I plan to develop my skills in the following areas to enhance my credibility and professionalism.  

User-Centered Focus 

I plan to hone my writing and research skills using the technical writing skills I learn in this class, emphasizing user-centered design. Readers seek concise and scannable information (Barr, 2010). More than ever, taking a user-centric approach is key to online writing. As a technical writer, I will place user needs first and employ digital writing techniques that provide clear and concise answers.

Network and Research 

The audience and the writer develop trust and dependability through credibility.  I have spent years networking with subject matter experts in the home and garden niche. I want to continue to foster that relationship and expand my network to have continuous access to a diverse range of experts. Moreover, I will attend conferences and read research articles and books related to my niche to solidify my knowledge. I want a reputation for providing clear, objective, and accurate information in everything I write.

Effective Use of Visual Communication

Being a visual person, I find it exciting to communicate effectively with visuals. Most people are visual learners. MIT neuroscientists have discovered that the human brain can process images the eye sees within 13 milliseconds. Additionally, 3M research reveals that visuals are processed 60,000 times faster than text. When used in conjunction with clear, accurate text, visual elements can significantly improve understanding and communication. Using pertinent images to promote comprehension is my aim as a technical writer. 

References:

Lannon, John M.; Gurak, Laura J. (2022). Technical Communication (Fifteenth ed.). New York: Pearson.

Balzotti, John (2022). Technical Communication: A Design-Centric Approach. New York: Routledge.

Barr, Chris (2010). Yahoo! Style Guide. New York: St. Martin's

Debbie Wolfe

Debbie Wolfe

Debbie Wolfe is a freelance writer, photographer, and author who has been writing in the home and garden industry for 10 years.
Powder Springs, GA