Stories

BTS 12: From Student to Paid Technical Writer

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My name is Roseline Bassey and I’m a technical writer. I write about cloud computing technology and I’m also open to exploring other fields in technical writing.

How did you get into the technical writing space?

I got into the technical writing space this year when I joined a technical writing Bootcamp around February. Before then, I did my research on technical writing.

As an English major, I was looking for a part of tech that I could venture into, so it made sense to go into technical writing.

On Twitter, I saw someone post about a technical writing Bootcamp and I hopped on the opportunity quickly. 

It was at this Bootcamp that I was introduced to many concepts in technical writing and since then, my journey into technical writing has been going smoothly.

Special thanks to my mentor Cynthia Peters.

Are you still studying at the University?

Yes, I am. I’m currently utilizing the opportunity of this time that we have.

A portfolio builder for tech writers

What’s one of your best experiences with technical writing, have you been able to land any clients?

One of my best experiences happened at the end parts of July when I was five months into technical writing. I share my articles on Dev.to.

I also document my journey on that platform. At some point, I got a lot of emails from people who reached out to me, commending my work and telling me that they could relate to my story.

 The best part was when clients started reaching out to me. They were impressed that I could get into the tech space even though I came from a non-traditional tech background (English)

Since quite a few people reached out, I had to pick the few I would like to work with. So far, I have worked with five clients, based on contracts not full-time.

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Another paid gig I got was when I applied to work with Draft.dev. It’s a developer content marketing agency platform. So I do write articles on Draft.dev while I write for the clients I have as well.

Did you have any challenges with your learning experience? 

Well, I have challenges especially with landing a full-time role. I want one as quickly as possible so I can be settled on one job instead of jumping from one offer to the other.

I’ve been trying my best with pushing in applications. It hasn’t come through for now but I believe by next year something good would come out of it. I’m giving myself from now till next year to land a big gig.

Also, when I started I had some challenges understanding the “doc as code” approach.

At the start of my days in technical writing, I went on LinkedIn to look at job descriptions from companies requiring technical writers, so that I could know what to learn and what not to learn.

I didn’t want to have to waste my time learning different technologies that weren’t relevant, and that’s when I came across the doc-as-code approach.

I feel there’s not enough content to help a new technical writer in this aspect properly and that was a bit challenging.

In the end, I was happy that I was able to accomplish learning about it.

How did you manage since there wasn’t enough content on that?

I saw pieces of content online and  I was able to put them together to make sense to me. Sometimes when I visited some pages I saw only a little of what I needed and I couldn’t even follow the instructions.

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I tried my best to gather content and also use my God-given sense because I was so determined to create a static site.

Technical writers need to have a lot of knowledge working with documentation-as-code and this triggered me to learn one of the most required things from technical writers.

I’m also thinking of writing an article to help other new technical writers with learning the doc-as-code approach. I have started to write the article but I dropped it somewhere because of clients work.

I need to complete that because I know the stress I went through in learning that particular skill.

What brands have you worked with?

I’ve worked with Quickblocks which is a telecommunication company.  They are vendors who sell software to apps that need communication platforms. 

I wouldn’t say I worked with the other companies because I work with Draft.dev and they are the middleman to those other companies that own the clients.

If you could turn back the hands of time, would you want to change anything about your career?

When I was starting, I was not certain about the niche that I will be focusing on. I learned about Python so that I could create content around it. In the fourth or fifth month of my journey, I found cloud technology as something of interest to me.

I wish I had the proper guidance on picking a niche from the beginning. I couldn’t write everything, I needed to focus on cloud network technologies. 

What would you describe as your writing weakness?

Coming from an English background I don’t think I have a weakness. For instance, on Draft.dev, I focus on cloud-native technologies and I don’t go above or beyond my space.

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 I don’t think I have any kind of weakness because I don’t pick content outside of my niche. I think you’ll only struggle when you pick content topics that you’re not familiar with.

What would you want to say to other freelancers out there?

Putting myself out there worked for me because if I wasn’t documenting my journey, I don’t think I would’ve had clients reach out to me.

You should learn to put yourself out there and also organize your samples with Contentre if you are technical writer focused on a particular niche. Try to make yourself visible to your clients and everyone.

How do you manage negative critique for your work?

When you put yourself out there as expected. It’s an open space and people can say anything. You don’t have control over comments.

If you have negative comments, you don’t necessarily have to respond to them. If you’re going to respond you need to respond politely.

Although, in my case, I haven’t experienced any negative comments or feedback. Feedback is great because it helps you grow and it puts you in check.

Connect with Roseline

  1. Portfolio
  2. Twitter

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Content Creator @ Contentre.io

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