Meet Opemipo Jokotagba, 9-5er by day, freelance technical writing ninja by night. Added to technical writing, he’s a software developer with a strong passion for all things tech.
So much so, that after his University degree in electrical and electronics engineering, he dumps that career path to pursue opportunities in the promising tech industry. Through the hurdles of life, he carved out a strong name for himself in technical writing, working with top brands in the tech space.
Let’s hear his story, shall we?
How did you get into freelance technical writing?
“It all started when I had just finished my NYSC after an electrical engineering degree. I was looking to the skies, dreading going back home empty-handed. You know, for most guys going back home after Uni is a fearful event because you’re stuck thinking about what’s next.
Fortunately for me, I knew what was next but it wasn’t like I had plans to be a technical writer. At the time, I was already a software engineer and I was just looking for my first software engineering gig.
Two months later, I struck something meaningful landing a job as a freelance backend developer. It was an on-site gig in Lekki and I had to report Monday to Friday.
On the job, we were working on a certain project and it was proving difficult for me. I wasn’t aware that people have been into software engineering for a while and when I came in, I was far behind. There was no one to show me around. It was just like I was holding my own book and figuring stuff out on my own.
Maybe I was not as good as I thought in software development, I thought to myself. So, I decided to speak to the team lead and he assigned me what he felt I would be able to handle.
Fortunately, the firm was doing some API documentation and the team lead predicted that it would be perfect for me. I got educated about it and I began to learn more on the job.
At this point, freelance technical writing was less of a chore because I had a background in tech so it was easy for me to understand how APIs work, and I executed well on the API documentation.
Did you take any training?
By December, I had finished with the freelance contract at Lekki and it was back to seeking new opportunities. I think by January I saw this post on Twitter or Linkedin, not sure, but it was about freelance coaching.
I think the guy in charge was called Gbenga and he made a post on Twitter about a freelancing course. He shared wonderful testimonials and his course price was set at N75,000.
I got interested in the class and I chose to opt for it. Being fortunate enough to be paid N33,000 in the last four or five months, my savings were enough to cover the cost of the class.
The Freelancing class started in March and ended in June but by the time it was over I was well armed with the freelancing skill and well introduced to the Upwork platform.
My main focus starting the class was to learn the basics of writing. I did the coaching program for about four weeks and in the course of the training, we moved over to learning how to freelance.
Since I was already familiar…I did not launch out with copywriting, instead, I focused fully on technical writing
I read books, articles, and blog posts on technical writing, perfecting my craft in writing documentation, user guides, and content writing.
In June, at the end of the class, I applied for the technical writing gig and that’s how I landed my first client on Upwork. They had a software application and I had to write about it.
Could you share some of your bad experiences so far?
So the bad experience that I have had is coming on board a project and the team that’s supposed to be managing the project does not have set rules and a plan to onboard new members well.
They expect that when you join the team, you know every single thing about the product, the system, and the software.
This happens to a lot of technical writers. You know, as a technical writer, you need to have some knowledge about the technical jargon and technical language involved in a project. So it’s best the already standing team makes it easy for anyone coming onboard to understand the project for easy flow of work.
Unfortunately, this is not the case most times and it’s difficult to reach out to team members when you need help understanding the project because they just believe you should know it. Technical writing is more of teamwork than individual work.
What Brands have you worked with in your time as a freelance technical writing career?
Here’s a summarized list of brands I’ve worked for.
- LiveStream API
- SideDrawer Inc
- Rosoft SRL
What would you describe as your writing weakness?
I think it’s time management for me. I put off work till later and then I realize it’s a horrible mistake when I delve in and there’s so much to do. Sometimes, I procrastinate a lot too.
If you could turn back the hands of time in your writing career, what would you change?
Back then in school, I had classmates that were making a lot of money from the Upwork platform and I equally joined in too. I started sending out proposals without being properly informed about how the platform works.
Furthermore, I would have probably wanted to learn how to use the platform properly before joining. I would have also wanted to be properly educated about using Upwork much earlier. Like me, if you can pay to get a mentor, then you should.
The benefits of getting a good mentor cannot be overemphasized. Right now, I’m still enjoying the benefits of a lecture I did some time ago. So I would say that If I could turn back the hands of time I would have paid to get the value earlier.
I would also love to mentor other people because I would not be where I am today if I didn’t have mentors even when I had paid for them.
What would you describe as your biggest win?
My biggest win was working with Cosmily.
I had to do a lot of research to deliver the work and at the end of the day, I got a fantastic recommendation. They really liked my work, even if it ended a few months back, which was the highlight for me.
Have you ever had any negative critique from your work and how do you deal with it?
I basically ask the customer to point out the specific areas that he or she feels would require more work. Based on the response I get, I make the adjustments. I don’t allow negative feedback to get to me and I just do my best.
What would you want to say to young freelance technical writers out there?
Don’t give up–keep sending out those cold emails. You may get 200 nos’ but once you get a yes it’s going to change your life forever.
How do you arrange your portfolio?
I basically use Google documents or Google Drive to keep my portfolio and I arrange them into folders like finance, tech, and cryptocurrency each in different folders.
Rather than doing that, how about using software like Contentre where you can categorize your content into different subjects and send out separate links from each subject to clients that request it? It’s sure better than one jumbled-up portfolio with different subjects.
Read more behind-the-scenes stories on the secrets of freelance technical writers. Visit our Stories section for more.