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Secrets of a freelance technical writer with John

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Learning the secrets of freelance technical writers enables you to boost your freelance technical writing career and gain more clients as a freelance technical writer.

Meet John Iwuozor, a young and ambitious math guru, turned freelance technical writer

For him, desperation cost him his peace, confidence, and a good client relationship but it was also a powerful tool for triumph and success.

John hopes to upscale his current earnings to $120,000 yearly and he’s a quarter way there just 2 years into his journey as a freelance technical writer.

Join us in this episode as we unravel some of his secrets and experiences that geared him on his path to success.

He even shares his unique writing process that gets his clients drooling over his first draft 90% of the time.

When did you start writing?

“It all started in 2020 when I finished with my data science internship and tried to get a gig. Sadly, I had a bunch of rejections repeatedly!

A portfolio builder for tech writers

It wasn’t funny, though I’m laughing now.

I just needed to do something to make money and that was when I bumped into freelance writing. 

Nevertheless, with my knowledge of chess, I decided to look for freelance writing gigs in that field.

So, I went on to google and I searched the terms  “chess writers needed”. I came across a website in need of a chess writer and I followed up with the owner of the website on Twitter.

However, because of how desperate I was to get this gig, I kept following him up and finally, he gave me a mock-up test.

I impressed him with the sample of the mock-up test I delivered and he gave me the writing gig thankfully. 

Now it was time for pricing. I didn’t really have any idea about the freelance technical writing market in Nigeria, so I went to Google and searched for article prices and the first thing I saw was $25.

That’s what I charged and coincidentally, he paid that exact amount for articles to other writers on a regular basis.

Wendy, do you know that at that time I became scared, I felt I was cheating him and this fear was sponsored by the little amount I was earning as an intern back in 2020.

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I was earning around N25,000 and this guy was going to pay me almost half that for a single article I could produce in a couple of hours. 

So yes, I felt I was cheating him but now I know it’s because I was new to the business.”

What other memorable experiences did you have as a freelance technical writer?

“This particular experience blew my mind. It was my third blog post on my freelance writing journey, not up to 2months in. 

Someone contacted me to write a data science-related blog post and it was easy to land this gig because during my internship year I was already writing a lot of data science articles. 

I had a ready portfolio on Medium that I never thought of using but that day was my lucky day and I sent the portfolio across.

When the client looked at the portfolio, he was impressed, and he asked me how much I charged. 

I decided to up my game this time  I said to myself, “John, add an extra $10 to the $25 dollars your usually charge for an article”. With a grin on my face, I confidently told the client, “I’ll charge you $35 per article. That’s $0.035per word.

The client in response said he was willing to offer me $0.20 per word meaning around $200 per article. I was ecstatic because I was asking for $35 per article and this guy was willing to offer me $200 per article—what an upgrade!

I wrote three articles for them and after a 30-day period, I was paid about $800 because of the word counts. It was at that point that I knew that I had to face this freelance technical writing thing. 

This is one of the things that makes me believe that I can get $10,000 per month, it is very possible.”

Can you tell us some of your bad experiences as a freelance technical writer?

“Well, I’ve not really had any bad experiences as a freelance technical writer but there was a particular job I was not supposed to bid for and when I took the job I didn’t do very well. 

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The job was for writing a homepage for $450 and because I was so moved by the money, I applied for the job but I didn’t deliver well.

The product I put out was bad and when I gave it to the client, she gave me $50 for the effort and I could tell she was really upset. I guess she’s going to have trust issues a lot more.

When I think about this I feel bad about this experience and it has taught me that if I can’t do a job I shouldn’t apply. Also, If I can’t do a job I’ll let the customer know, simple. 

Another bad experience was a particular client that was paying me $15 per article. I only took this job because of my good friend “desperation” and when I got it, I found out it was a lot of work for such a small amount.

If you look at the requirements for each article, it was outrageous! There was a full detailed guide on how to publish an article and it was $15.

 It was a frustrating experience but I just had to finish up because I had already started. At the end of the day, I just had to stop working with the client.”

Tell us about your unique writing process

“For my writing process, when I write a blog post I look at the brief the client sends to me to understand the project.

For the benefit of those new to the freelance technical writing game. Every client should give you useful information on the project you’re supposed to take on.

Once you have this you need to do some research. The thing about tech is that it can be a little bit tricky it’s not like food where all you need to do is get things out of your head.

Tech is something that you have to research. You could go through five research posts to be able to write about the topic.  

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After I get the topic, I do a lot of research and check out information past for blog posts.

Next, I write out all the information all in a rush then I begin editing. I consider editing the most important aspect of writing a blog.

Lastly, I begin removing all the extra fluff and then I send over the first draft to the clients. 90% of the time the client accepts my first draft.”

Brands that I have worked with our East security planets.

“I have worked with sites like Esecurityplanet (not east), Winston, Draft, ForbesAdvisor, Bora, Redefinemarketing, etc. I’ve written mostly ghost recent articles. I have worked with a university in the US. it’s a school of data science in the US.”

What are your writing weaknesses? 

“I can work for one hour and rest for two hours. Technical writing is a lot of brain work and you do a lot of research, you read a lot of things and your head just gets full. So most times after I write I take a long break!”

If you could turn back the hands of time what particular mistakes would you want to change about your writing career and tech?

“I wouldn’t want to change anything. It hasn’t been long since I started my freelance technical writing career and I have been able to achieve quite a lot in such a short time.

I have gained so much experience. Everything about my journey has been perfect.”

Connect with John Iwuozor on Portfolio and Linkedin.

Read more behind-the-scenes stories on the secrets of freelance technical writers. Visit our Stories section for more.

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