Nothing can replace four to eight years of college study and years of industry experience, but to be a writer for an industry, you rarely need such a high level of expertise. A writer’s best tools are the same as in any field, years of study and experience. Your experience happens to be in the field of writing.
Once you decide to write for a particular specialty, however, you need to do some catching up. It is doubtful you will know more about the field than most of the people you interview or write for, but a good general knowledge, and an up-to-date knowledge of where the industry is going, will get you a long way. After that, you will have to gain knowledge the way they did, through experience.
These are a few steps to get you started:
Subscribe to the Magazines
Every industry has specialized magazines and journals. These are a prime target. If you can’t afford all the magazines, at least try to find a library that carries them.
Read the Articles
Look especially for articles that are informative and understandable to you. Study the way the articles are written as well as the information they provide.
Write to the Advertisers
Write a personal letter to leading companies in the industry, explaining that you are a writer in the field and would appreciate receiving press releases, product announcements, and sales brochures.
Follow the Web
Check the Internet for industry news, companies, and dedicated web pages. Bookmark these pages, or better yet create your own page so that you have the information ready to access and available to help others.
Read Introductory Books
Buy them if possible so that you can set up your own reference library. As you learn more you can build up, but the first goal is to be able to talk and write about the subject intelligently.
Take a Class
There are many advantages to taking a class. You gain both knowledge, and relationships with people who have similar interests. It isn’t necessary to get a degree in the subject, but any class is sure to help.
Almost every industry has conventions. When one is near you, be sure to attend. You should also write people in the field and solicit their advice or stump for an interview. The net is especially good for this. People are more apt to reply to e-mail than a formal letter, because of it’s casual nature.
Your goal may be to become a technical or advertising writer in the field, or to become a magazine or book writer in the field. The key is to get something under your belt. Try to come up with magazine article ideas and pitch them to the magazines you subscribe to. Find more general articles that may be of interest outside the industry. The important thing, no matter what your goal, is to have a writing sample you can show to prospective clients.
Maintaining expertise in a field is an ongoing process. Innovations occur every day, and it is in your best interests to keep up with them. The mind only goes in two directions on any subject, learning and forgetting.