3 Important Lessons I Learned From My First Paid Tech Writing Gig

3 Important Lessons I Learned From My First Paid Tech Writing Gig

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The Power of Speaking Out Your Goals

Remember when I mentioned in my "So Far So Good" post about aiming to land a paid tech writing gig by the end of the year? Well, guess what? I did it! 🎉 I had the incredible opportunity to work as a paid reviewer for a non-profit organization's open-source project tutorials. Imagine getting paid to review open source documentation. Sigh, it’s a dream come true! 🥹 As I sit and reflect on this achievement, I want to share three important lessons I have learned from my experience. Why? To inspire you of course! 🙂 Let's go! 🙂

Lesson 1: Research About the Project/Organization

Ever heard of checking someone's social media page before a date? Well, the same idea applies when you get your paid first tech writing opportunity. It’s always best to do some research on the organization you’re working with. It’ll help guide you on how to create content that aligns with your purpose. For instance, in my in-depth research on the organization, I learned that their project has a web editor that generates colorful images, aiming to make coding more accessible for non-tech professionals such as artists, educators, and other creatives. This has helped me immensely in my review of one of their reference pages as I suggested to the docs’ lead to simplify explanations, and hyperlink terms that have their own page. Now research is not the only lesson that I learned from this experience. Let’s look at another one.

Lesson 2: Ask Before Signing

Before clicking on the 'Agree' button, asking questions is crucial. When I first read the agreement for the reviewer role, I asked the following questions:

  • How will I receive payment?

  • What are the main tasks that I will focus on during this opportunity?

  • What tools will I be using?

These questions added clarity to the agreement and helped me learn more about the role and its expectations. Now before you go, there’s just one more thing I want you to consider when getting your paid tech writing gig.

Lesson 3: Don’t Be Afraid To Seek Clarification

Sometimes, despite our best efforts, miscommunications occur. After I worked on my feedback and discussed it with the docs lead, I reread it again and found some areas that needed improvement. Unfortunately, I hit a dead end in getting further input from the docs lead, leaving me to wonder “Should I pile on more feedback or hold back?” I felt torn between fulfilling the agreed hours and potential overstepping. Eventually, I decided to include the comments. Days later, the docs lead mentioned the extra commentary wasn't necessary. This taught me that seeking clarification, even amidst uncertainty, is crucial.

Not too Bad Overall

So, there you have it, three lessons I have learned from my first technical writing gig. It was an incredible experience, and I'm eager to do more of them in the future. If you're hungry for more opportunities in the tech writing realm, I recommend reading Rizel Scarlett’s guide on writing technical blog posts:

It’s filled with great tips on how to write engaging technical posts. I also suggest exploring the CommunityWriterPrograms’ repository on GitHub. It’s a treasure trove filled with places that offer paid technical writing opportunities. And while you're looking, let’s stay connected! Find me on BioDrop for more tech content and support. Now, go forth and start writing! ✍️

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