An encounter with a technical writing whiz kid

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Technical writing is a type of writing where the author writes about a particular subject that requires direction, instruction, or explanation. It involves straightforward, easy-to-understand explanations of and instructions for a particular subject. Leveraging the internet, the industry is growing fast in Nigeria and downsizing the country’s rate of unemployment. AWAAL GATA had an encounter with Daud Sulaimon Abiola, one of the experts in the industry.

How did your journey in technical writing begin?

My journey into technical writing involved big losses, small wins, shattered dreams, and burst bubbles. It is also a product of surprising circumstances, piloted on fear, trial, and errors. Before I ventured into technical writing, I was a copywriter working with leading SaaS marketing agencies in the US and Singapore. “I need a new challenge,” I said to myself. One that is less crowded and commands more rewards. Hence, technical writing was a natural selection for me. I tried many things – from website development and design to media buying and SDR. I felt it was right for me to go for technical writing. Although both have outward differences (copywriting and technical writing), the two have a common ground. My new endeavor coincided with the ICO bubble and public exposure to cryptocurrency. This happened in 2017. As cryptocurrency grew in the public consciousness, ICO whitepaper writing attracted more attention. This early acceptance of my decision gave me an informal presence in a potentially disruptive market. Indeed, Fiverr’s algorithms married well with clients’ demands for technical writers. That strong pairing launched me into the technical writing space

What impact has it made in your life?
Unlike other categories, being in the technical writing space represents an obvious example of an industry with network effects. The opportunities have reconnected me to an old connection. For instance, I was invited as one of the speakers during the 7TH UN STI Forum. I was also a panelist during the Stockholm +50 event – a side event of the UN. Recently, I was among the 333 Global Leaders in WEB3 to follow on LinkedIn. Technical writing has helped me to hit some true gland slams on the global stage and enabled me to add a lot of extroversions to freelancing.

Many Nigerians do not know much about it. What actually does it entail?
There is an interfix between technical content writing and technical writing. Developers and coders write technical content. However, technical content writers are not necessarily coders or developers. More often than not, it requires you to read documentation and other technical jargon to develop a single line of technical content. During my time at 5irechain (now a Unicorn), I worked at the intersection of tech, marketing, and data. I worked directly with the CTO and head of growth – I was tasked with coming up with daily tech updates. It was a very challenging task, but that experience really gave me a new direction. Overall, blockchain writing isn’t the only technical niche out there. There are others in Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and Intelligent computing. It’s important to note that technical writers, especially those that write documentations, are better paid than technical content writers. You grab?

What should be the pre-occupations of anyone who wants expertise in it?
The pre-requisite is to understand the basics, the fundamentals. Most times, technical content writing addresses three types of audiences. They are the investors, developers, and people new to that industry. You must be able to explain complex technical terms to an average person. How do you write good technical content? It won’t happen overnight but constant practicing. Though no summation can aptly capture its pre-occupations, specific measures and practices seem especially important to boss the skill. These are reading industry reports, breaking down whitepapers, and interviewing developers will equip you with an explicit point-of-view about the subject matter and allow you to build on its merits.

On your Facebook posts, you often advocate that youth go into freelancing and tech; these are somewhat novel in Nigeria. What are the perks in them for participants?
Freelancing isn’t new in Nigeria. There were freelancers before I entered freelancing, but I don’t think anyone evangelizes the craft as I do. Although freelancing isn’t the only way to make money online, I believe it’s one of the fastest ways to earn dollars without any upfront payment. You don’t need to bring more people to make money. You don’t have to spend on Ads. Do you know the perks? There are no gatekeepers, and this is what I preach. Omoalhaja Abiola may teach you one thing, but you can decide to do it differently and achieve even greater and better results.

You also offer free mentorship and coaching on some of these ventures. What are your inspirations?
My inspiration is raising a new crop of creators and doers who don’t depend on their certificates. It is supporting a new cohort of Nigerians with financial independence. It’s hard not to be hopeful or optimistic. I intended to change how to freelance when I started this initiative in 2017. Greedy course creators are scamming desperate people. The desire to change this narrative motivated me to start LaptopLaivstyle – a Telegram community of more than 12 thousand freelancers from different regions worldwide. There’s a good chance that sometime today, you will communicate with a freelancer that is a member or knows someone who is a member of that community. It is no longer unusual for a new primary school student to try freelancing. It’s now normal, something fashionable. I have drawn up a series of physical classes and meetups for Nigerian freelancers, and we will enter Q1 2023 not only appreciated by those the community has helped but also better appreciated by the entire Nigerian creative community. In years to come, we would expand and sharpen each of these initiatives, adding more strength to the current formidable arsenal.
How would you describe Nigeria’s technical industry today, and where do you see it a few years from now?
Nigeria’s technical industry is growing, growing at an unimaginable pace. You see 17 yr old lad innovating from within, from within this space we call Nigeria. The industry has been around for decades and has evolved over the years from a place of know-nothing to occupying the center stage of global discussion. We now have a vibrant community of many constellations – the software developer community, app development community, and web3 community. The recent blockchain developer summit in Abuja encapsulates the significance and thorniness of this growth. People suffered for this. The early adopters and believers who tested and experimented the limit of tech and technical education suffered for this growth, and we thank God this is happening. In Nigeria, each star shines individually but with a communal belief – a bit of creativity and squint for excellence, to be known for something unusual. This will position the sector as one of the most impactful and intriguing ones in the future.

Do you do creative writing?
No, I don’t. Apart from the love poems I wrote growing up, I don’t think I have ever written anything creative. Creative writing isn’t my thing. I have never thought of going into it. Maybe in the future, not now.
Growing up, how much of a voracious reader were you?
I am from a long line of entrepreneurs and religious leaders, with four generations of imams before my father. That legacy means that we do not take knowledge and learning with levity in my family. That means you have to read. You must read, most importantly the Qu’ran. But I wasn’t a voracious reader growing up. It only started when I entered the university. I would describe myself as a reclusive youngster because I was obsessed with technology and computers. That interest filled my time and, as you can see, has proven useful.

Which books are you reading now, and which do you intend to read in the nearest future?
I am reading the industry reports on web3 and metaverse by PWC and GreyScale ventures. My reading is interdisciplinary, with a knack for technology, marketing, and history books (especially international politics). I am not sure I will (and can) deviate from this anytime soon.

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