My name is mac Bobby Chibuzor and I’m a software engineer and technical writer.
I currently mentor people on technical writing and I’ve been doing that since February 2021.
It all started when my friend asked me to mentor a lady from She Code Africa. From there, my mentorship group kept growing.
How did you get into technical writing?
I got into technical writing accidentally and from there I progressed into web development. It all started when I was visiting my uncle, he’s a UI/UX designer.
At the time I visited, he was working for a startup business as a contract designer. After the project, the client asked if he had someone who could populate the website with content.
I think my uncle knew how much I loved reading. I would add that’s one of the things that makes me stand out in technical writing and even in code.
Long story short, he handed me the gig and it came out just fine. It wasn’t really a technical writing gig but that moment ushered in my technical writing career.
I started asking questions about technical documentation. I got a couple of links from my Uncle’s friend and I began to read up on technical writing.
That’s what we do in this space, we share links. No one is going to sit and tutor you.
I joined this popular platform called Clubhouse. I started to write and later on, I created an account on Cloudflare but I didn’t achieve much.
I was writing and learning about technical writing at the same time. I kept improving until I got better and better.
Then, I discovered that you needed to be good at code to be great at technical writing. You’d have to know exactly what you intend to teach to people.
That was when I started studying deeper, I started studying more things that I could add. This was around 2019.
What’s one of your best experiences?
I think the experience that stood out for me was when a Japanese CEO messaged me.
That was the nicest feeling I had in a long time. It meant a lot to me that someone over a million miles away was bragging to his colleagues about me. That’s what he said in his mail. It lit up my face and my heart.
That was also where I got financially uplifted. It’s one of my best experiences.
Before that, I was working with a company called Revolver. It was heartbreaking to find out that more than 4 people were getting paid way higher than me, doing the same thing that I did.
I left to work with the Japanese CEO. Even though it was a $50 increase from the $350 I was formerly paid.
I guess it was the love I felt from the CEO that really pushed that decision. I had no problem creating articles. I put out about eight or seven articles every month. I did this for six months.
How much do you get paid per article?
As a freelancer, the amount of work you put in is the amount of work you get out. When I worked with Revolver, I was writing twice a month and taking home $700 at the rate of $350 per article.
More jobs kept coming and I started doing more than I used to.
I went from having $700 a month to having twice that amount. Especially in the blockchain space. Where I work currently, I get paid $800 per article.
It’s not a bed of roses though, I write DevOps-related stuff, cloud-native stuff. Core Blockchain stuff. You’d have to sit down and study for hours or weeks before you can write one sentence.
When It’s something I know the learning curve is going to be wider. I negotiate for higher pay.
The key is, to create technical content that doesn’t exist and makes it easier for other people to learn with. Find a gap and fill it.
What’s one of your worst experiences with technical writing?
My worst experience was with Revolver.
It’s a machine learning company and I was working with the chief editor.
There were a lot of corrections to be made. It was probably my fault. When I received the corrections for the first draft, she highlighted over 300 errors.
The worst part was that she underlined them without leaving any helpful suggestions. I made the corrections a couple of times and she still sent them back for even more corrections.
When she sent the article for the fourth time, I noticed her problem with the draft was mostly English errors. The company was based in Berlin and they expected me to write in Berlin English.
I’m only good at Nigerian English. I’m not that good at writing US English or any other country’s English. It’s British English which we use in Nigeria.
Even after resolving the problems with the draft, she asked “why did you just accept everything, why didn’t you make your suggestions?”
I was fed up and I decided to ignore her messages. I moved on with my life and I focused on something, precisely the Japanese company.
Although I must admit, from the changes she made, I learned a lot about how to structure sentences. When you’re starting a new paragraph, with a sentence, every other sentence in that paragraph must follow the first sentence so that there’s a flow.
Currently, when I write and it flows properly I remember Revolver.
If you could turn back the hands of time would you want to change anything in your career?
I believe there is no blueprint for life and if you change anything, the chances of it turning out right are not guaranteed.
The only thing I would have wanted to change was starting earlier. That’s the only thing that I regret.
I believe if I had started earlier, I would have gone farther.
Do you have any writing weaknesses?
I think it has to be research. Also, writing an abstract before starting.
It was in the middle of my career I realized writing an abstract before setting out to write was nice. It’s a thorough explanation of what you’re planning to do from the topic already assigned to you.
As for research, I wouldn’t say it’s a weakness. I’d rather say this, “research is research if it wants to humble you it’ll humble you.”
Because it’s difficult to sit down to understand a particular phrase especially if you need to read something else to understand it better. Sometimes it gets so mind-boggling and I SCREAM!!!
Yep, that’s my weakness—research.
What would you like to say to other freelancers out there?
You’re learning is your earning. If you don’t learn something new and you keep using old knowledge you’re going to have a lot of competition.
Spare an hour or two a day to just learn something new.
Even if you’re into content creation or search engine optimization, learn to consume more information on how to stand out and make your articles rank higher.
I’ll share a personal story. Since I started learning Golang I realized it was very similar to the Rust language.
When people were learning how to write the Rust language, I didn’t. But this all changed when I learned that it was in high demand and good for business. That’s when I jumped on the trend and learned it too. I started making money from it no sooner than later.
There are some things you have to jump on whether or not you master it, whether or not you become good at it.
The most money I’ve made out of technical writing came out of Blockchain technology.
It’s something I had to learn but I don’t have an interest in it. I hate it, but because of my interest in making money, I just had to jump on it.
Having good peer pressure and surrounding yourself with the right friends is equally important.
I learned Solidity because of my friends and it landed me a gig on LogRocket. I’m currently on the web 3 platform on LogRocket, I’m not on the web2.
Be ready to pick up something new. Once you notice a wave or a bubble, be ready to jump on it. You have to build the habit of learning at the beginning of your career.
Finally, I would suggest that technical writing stays as your side hustle and they’re different reasons why.
Freelancing is great because you have control of your time and you can stay in the comfort of your home and do your work.
But you can’t keep learning and jumping on trends. It’s not sustainable.
There is no telling where it will end, it’s like NFT the bubble has grown and its reign is over.
If you are a technical writer and you’re focused on Blockchain there’s no use writing about NFTs because no one is going to request it—it’s gone.
I know someone who does trading and technical writing on the side.
Assuming you are working full-time as a software developer, the knowledge you get from your daily work is what helps you the most as a technical writer.
I’ll give an example: Most technical writers on Medium are software developers writers. Articles on Medium are like a contribution to the community.
Have the main hustle and do the technical articles on the side especially if you’re into coding. It’ll be easier for you to write about the software if you’re using them in daily work.