How I became a tech writer for hire

Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine I would be writing mostly tech articles for businesses. Being a tech writer for hire was definitely not on my life’s game-plan when I was 13, my face splattered with paint, telling my mom I was going to “become an artist.” 🤣

The turns and twists of life mean that, by age 23, I had obtained a Computer Science Diploma, accredited by the University of Cambridge, specializing in Software Development. Like many coders (e.g. Zuckerberg, and Matt Mullenweg of WordPress), I started coding professionally long before I graduated. Unlike those giants, my coding didn’t turn me into a millionaire. (Actually, I think Zuckerberg is a billionaire.) (And, unlike those giants, I actually graduated!)

Life as a coder before life as a tech writer for hire

I wrote my first custom software for a company six months before graduating. It took me forever to write but I was proud to get paid for my work and the system did what the company needed. It was a project management system and CMS for an architectural design company. I think we even added invoicing at some stage; I don’t fully remember.

I didn’t study web dev so I had to teach myself that. That was more difficult than expected, and unfortunately my sister hired me to create her new business’s ecommerce site. Unfortunately for her, because it really wasn’t a great product. But I’m still grateful for her believing in me. 🤦🏼‍♂️

I started making my living as a coder, and soon my work improved to the point where I wasn’t embarrassed about what I created and eventually could create powerful web and desktop systems.

The move to fiction

In the middle of all this, I started writing fiction because I thought it was a quick way to get rich. (Spoiler alert: It isn’t. 🤣) I didn’t become the next Stephen King (in case you were wondering), but I did become passionate about writing.

For reasons I won’t dive into here, I was stuck in a hole professionally, living in a location that was toxic for my personality. I’ve always been a gregarious, sociable person who likes to be surrounded by people and I had somehow ended up living in the middle of nowhere for 15 years in a country that didn’t speak my language. One thing that black hole did do for me was give me a lot of time to write.

I became pretty good at it. I wrote a ton of personal fiction novels, many of them under a woman’s name because they were romance. I also wrote fantasy, Sci-Fi, horror, and I even had two stories professionally published — one in an anthology published by Third Flatiron Publishing, and other in Daily Science Fiction, a professional Sci-Fi and fantasy market.

I was still trying to crack it big and so worked harder and harder to hone my craft.

I did this for about seven years and what I got most out of those seven years was an exquisite ability to tell a story.

Storytelling skills

Little did I know that those years writing romance and learning what readers want would so strongly affect my career as a professional non-fiction writer later on. People love stories, and if you are able to weave an emotionally powerful tale into an otherwise dry subject, you’ve created magic.

You’ve also given your brand the best possible chance it can get to interest people through content.

Stories. The power of stories is apparently hardwired into our minds.

Just as I never expected stories to forge the non-fiction writer I would become, I also never imagined that my tech background would be in such high demand when I finally did crack it as a professional freelance writer.

One of the statements I hear most often from clients is, “Paulo, it’s so rare to find a writer who also has a tech background.”

Often, when I tell people what I do for a living (“I’m a writer,” I say proudly), some of them blink, wait a second, and then ask, “Yes, but, is that all you do?”

I am reminded of my mother’s reaction when I was a lad, spattered with that acrylic paint on my face, telling her I wanted to “be an artist” when I grew older. Thank the stars I didn’t tell her I was planning on becoming a writer! One of the most well-known Portuguese writers — Fernando Pessoa — was an absolute pauper in his day, and yet wrote prolifically. Only after his death did he receive recognition for his work, and even then only after an old friend published a manuscript he found.

My highly educated Portuguese mother knew very well of Fernando Pessoa!

This is the view of “The Professional Writer” to most people — broke, haggard, locked away in some dusty room, and unsuccessful.

The niche — tech writer, fintech writer, and crypto writer

When I receive this surprised reaction from people, I look over what I write and it’s mostly tech and cryptocurrency, which is really just another form of tech. IF I didn’t have this background, maybe I would be that broke writer in a dusty room.

I started writing cryptocurrency articles because they were technical. Crypto was a challenge to learn but I felt up to it because of my programming background.

There are topics I don’t go near in tech because they’re too advanced, but many people hire me anyway, even when I tell them I’m not too familiar with their particular technical field. They’d rather have a coder who is a writer, than have a familiar coder who can’t write.

I called myself a Crypto Writer for Hire long before I settled on Tech Writer for Hire. I found it hard to believe that there weren’t so many tech writers for hire around and so didn’t think it was worth promoting. But it seems that there aren’t.

I’ve written across a broad span of tech topics, including:

  • Programming tutorials
  • JavaScript articles
  • Python articles
  • Articles on various APIs
  • Tons of cybersecurity work
  • Endless SaaS content

So, the answer to how I became a tech writer for hire is a simple one: I sort of fell into it. 😅

Once I saw that making it as a fiction writer was almost impossible, I started looking for articles on how to make it as a ghostwriter or freelance writer. Every article from successful writers said the same thing: Find a niche. It’s weird how I didn’t equate tech writing with the niche I might pursue. I dived into the financial niche because I had coded quite a bit of accounting software.

But when people read my profile and my online content, they saw that I did have a tech background and so asked me if I also write tech articles. “Of course!” I said. And, before I knew it, I was deluged by requests for tech writing.