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This is is my 6th year creating paid data science and machine learning content. I only started a blog last year. In the beginning, there is no value in creating a blog. Focus on creating many high-quality writing samples on well-known publications.
You need a portfolio of writing samples. This gives potential clients and employers confidence that you have experience in technical writing. You might be tempted to start a blog to create these samples. This is okay, but not at the beginning of your technical writing journey. A blog comes with a few challenges:
- Maintaining the blog to reduce downtime
- Hosting costs
- Nobody knows your blog
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Nobody knows your blog
When you start a blog, you join what is known as the ghost-town phase. Nobody will read your blog unless you already have an audience to share your content with. This is very frustrating and discouraging. You can benefit from SEO. However, it can take up to 2 years for content from a new blog to rank. There are ways to go around this, but that's a topic for another day.
When starting a career in technical writing, your goal should be zero hosting costs. Hence, why people will use GitHub pages for their blogs. Other solutions are to use platforms such as Medium and Hashnode. But remember that nobody knows you, and you may still get zero views on your blogs.
Maintaining the blog to reduce downtime
Your focus, in the beginning, should be on creating high-quality technical content and not on maintaining servers. You are responsible for all the admin work if you self-host your blog. I don't see what value this adds unless your technical content is on maintaining servers.
So what is the solution?
Post your technical content on publications that already have an audience.
Remember, you have two main goals:
- Create 5-10 writing samples at the beginning
- Use those samples to get work
The strategy that has worked for me in getting writing work is to let the jobs come to me. You can't achieve this if you publish on a blog no one knows about. That's why my strategy, in the beginning, was to post to well-known publications such as Towards Data Science and KDnuggets.
Make sure that a link to your LinkedIn profile is on every post. That will make it easy for potential clients/recruiters to reach you. For example, my LinkedIn profile is linked to all my posts on KDnuggets. In the screenshot below, you can see I was contacted on LinkedIn when someone saw my post on Towards Data Science. I doubt I would have been approached for this job if I had been posting on a personal Medium account or on a personal blog that no one knew about.
Here are 3 things to keep in mind as far as getting technical writing jobs is concerned.
- People looking for technical writers will look for them where they already are–that is, on these established blogs.
- They go to these platforms because they know that the authors publishing there have already been vetted by these publications. Hence they won't have to do extra work to determine your writing prowess.
- Being a published author on established publications gives you credibility as a technical writer.
Apart from the jobs coming to you, you can use your posts on established blogs when applying.
What if your content doesn't get accepted by these well-known blogs?
Rejection happens to everyone, more so in the beginning. If possible, get feedback to establish the reason for rejection, and resubmit your blog post to them or another publication. You can also publish on your personal Medium account. This is better than a personal blog because Medium can recommend your content to other readers on the site.
So when should you start a personal blog?
I recommend starting a personal blog when getting writing work is no longer a problem and you are ready for the additional overhead of running a personal blog.
In conclusion, to get more technical writing work or full-time roles in 2023, focus on building your credibility by submitting your work to well-known publications on the internet. You will seem more credible when your writing on established blogs than a blog that's only visited by your friends and family.
Whenever you're ready, there is 1 way I can help you:
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