Technical writing is a type of writing where the writer writes about a particular topic that requires direction, instruction, or explanation. These are simple, easy-to-understand explanations and instructions for a particular topic. Leveraging the internet, the industry is growing rapidly in Nigeria and reducing the country’s unemployment rate. AWAAL GATA met Daud Sulaimon Abiola, one of the industry experts.
How did your journey into technical writing begin?
My journey into technical writing involved big losses, small wins, shattered dreams, and burst bubbles. It is also the product of startling circumstances, driven by fear, trial and error. Before venturing into technical writing, I was a copywriter working with top-tier SaaS marketing agencies in the US and Singapore. “I need a new challenge,” I said to myself. The one that is less crowded and commands more rewards. Therefore, technical writing was a natural selection for me. I have tried many things – from web development and design to media buying and SDR. I felt it was right for me to go into technical writing. Although the two have outward differences (copywriting and technical writing), both have common ground. My new venture coincided with the ICO bubble and public exposure to cryptocurrency. This happened in 2017. As cryptocurrency grew in public consciousness, the writing of the ICO whitepaper attracted more attention. This early acceptance of my decision gave me an informal presence in a potentially disruptive market. Indeed, Fiverr’s algorithms have married well with client demands for technical writers. This strong couple propelled me into the technical writing space
What impact has it had in your life?
Unlike other categories, being in the technical writing space represents a clear example of an industry with network effects. The opportunities reconnected me to an old connection. For example, I was invited as one of the speakers at the 7th UN STI Forum. I was also a panelist at the Stockholm +50 event – a UN side event. Recently, I was one of 333 global WEB3 leaders to follow on LinkedIn. Technical writing has helped me hit real gland smacks on the world stage and allowed me to add a lot of freelance extroversion.
Many Nigerians don’t know much about it. What does this imply concretely?
There is a connection 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, this 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 technology, marketing and data. I worked directly with the CTO and Head of Growth – I was responsible for providing daily technical updates. It was a very difficult task, but this 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 is important to note that technical writers, especially those who write documentations, are paid more than technical content writers. You catch?
What should be the concerns of anyone who wants subject matter expertise?
The prerequisite is to understand the basics, the fundamentals. Most of the time, writing technical content is aimed at three types of audiences. They are investors, developers and newcomers to this industry. You must be able to explain complex technical terms to an average person. How to write good technical content? This will not happen overnight, but through constant practice. While no summary can adequately capture its concerns, specific steps and practices seem particularly important to mastering the skill. It’s about reading industry reports, breaking down white papers, and interviewing developers who will give you an explicit perspective on the topic and allow you to capitalize on its merits.
On your Facebook posts, you often advocate that young people turn to freelance and technology; these are somewhat new to Nigeria. What are the benefits for participants?
Freelancing is not new to Nigeria. There were freelancers before I started freelancing, but I don’t think anyone evangelizes the craft the way I do. Although freelancing is not the only way to make money online, I think it is one of the fastest ways to make money 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 benefits? There are no guards, and that’s what I preach. Omoalhaja Abiola can teach you one thing, but you can decide to do it differently and get even bigger and better results.
You also offer free mentoring and coaching on some of these companies. What are your inspirations?
My inspiration is to raise a new generation of creators and actors who are not dependent on their certificates. It supports a new cohort of financially independent Nigerians. It’s hard not to be hopeful or optimistic. I intended to change the way I became a freelancer when I started this initiative in 2017. Greedy course creators rip off desperate people. The desire to change this narrative motivated me to start LaptopLaivstyle – a Telegram community of over 12,000 freelancers from different parts of the world. Chances are that one day today you will communicate with a freelancer who is a member or knows someone who is a member of this community. It is no longer uncommon for a new elementary school student to try to become independent. It is now normal, something fashionable. I have put together a series of physical courses and meetups for Nigerian freelancers, and we will enter the first quarter of 2023, not only appreciated by those whom the community has helped, but also better appreciated by the entire Nigerian creative community. In the years to come, we would expand and refine each of these initiatives, adding more strength to the formidable arsenal we have today.
How would you describe the technical industry in Nigeria today, and where do you see it in a few years?
Nigeria’s tech industry is growing, at an unimaginable rate. You see a 17-year-old boy who is 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 ignorance to taking center stage in global discussion. We now have a vibrant community made up of many constellations – the Software Developer Community, the Application Developer Community, and the Web3 Community. The recent Blockchain Developer Summit in Abuja encapsulates the importance and thorniness of this growth. People suffered for it. Early adopters and believers who tested and experienced the limit of technological and technical education suffered from this growth, and we thank God that this is happening. In Nigeria, each star shines individually but with a common belief – a bit of creativity and a squint for excellence, to be known for something unusual. This will position the sector as one of the most impactful and intriguing in the future.
Do you do creative writing?
No I do not know. Other than the love poems I wrote growing up, I don’t think I’ve ever written anything creative. Creative writing is not my thing. I never thought of getting into it. Maybe in the future, not now.
Growing up, how much of a voracious reader were you?
I come from a long line of entrepreneurs and religious leaders, with four generations of imams before my father. This heritage means that we don’t take knowledge and learning lightly in my family. It means you have to read. You must read, especially the Koran. But I wasn’t a voracious reader growing up. It only started when I entered university. I would describe myself as a young recluse because I was obsessed with technology and computers. This interest filled my time and, as you can see, came in handy.
What books are you currently reading and which do you plan to read in the near future?
I read industry reports on web3 and the metaverse by PWC and GreyScale ventures. My readings are interdisciplinary, with a knack for technology, marketing, and history books (especially international politics). I’m not sure I’ll (and can) stray from this anytime soon.