My Career Path: Lovely Marketing
How I Got From Corporate Tech Writing to Freelance Content Writing Part 2
I have been working as a writer in the IT industry for the last 5 years. Tech writing, marketing, SMM, PR — I’ve done it all. And now that I’m a freelance content writer, I want to share the story of how I got here in a series of posts “My Career Path”: Strict Technical Writing, Lovely Marketing, Vigorous PR and Liberating Freelance Writing.
This is the second post in the series, where I will be talking about the joyous time I had working in the marketing department and meeting new very important people.
All the fun started when the marketing department was launching a new corporate website, and they needed a helping hand, better two, to cope with everything in time. So, they recruited two tech writers — me and my colleague — for two months to help them out mainly by populating the website with content.
The news that I was being transferred struck me. I even remember crying. I thought that it was not fair that instead of mastering my tech writing skills, I will be working on an internal project with a bunch pretentious girls led by an intimidating woman who swears a lot. Oh, how I was wrong!
At first, I was quiet and didn’t interact much with anybody, which was hard since the tiny room was packed with loudly-talking jolly people who had to sit face-to-face with each other to fit in. I tried to quickly do my job of editing and uploading text and images to the new website and rush off to have lunch with my tech writing team.
At the end of the first week in marketing, I get another “good” news — we’ll have to work on Saturday because we were running late on the release. Great! There I was, sitting glued to my computer screen in the office on a Saturday, when my peripheral vision caught a glimpse of a cheese plate. Then I heard someone say “Where’s the yellow corkscrew?” Wine? In the office? “That’s a small compensation for you having to work on a weekend,” says Marina, the once intimidating head of marketing, as we all cheer. That was one of the first signs that the marketing department was really no that bad.
As days went by, I grew to love the marketing work. I got to write all kinds of content, like news bits, press releases, greeting cards and landing page texts that were frankly much more interesting than installation guides. When I was asked to write my first case study, I did an awful job. And though now I got considerably better in writing case studies, to this day it is the piece of content I hate writing the most. I even had the task to create an English Wikipedia page about our company but failed miserably. Three times. It was terrible because each time Wikipedia thought we were using it for promotion (which was kinda true). But don’t feel bad for me: no one succeeded in that in 5 years. Plus, I got a cool nickname — Vitkapedia.
Along with different great content I got to write, there were different great people I got to meet. A gifted marketer and a team leader sent from the above to teach, nurture and protect her squad. A talented curly-haired graphics designer with sensational lips who is too shy to see how great she actually is. A beautiful blue-eyed black-haired girly-girl with caramel skin at first sight and a strict project manager with a Ph.D. in reality. An ageless Love goddess with aphenomenal sense of style and pretty good dance moves. A Wonder Woman who manages to build a great career, raise two children and still go tango dancing with her husband. An immensely talented software developer with husky-dog eyes who can learn and operate a new programming language in weeks, plays guitar and knows all episodes of Friends by heart. A young guy who grew from a junior developer to a member of our R&D team to product manager of his own small department in the shortest time imaginable. An enormous art director who always has tons of ideas, can stay up several nights in a row working passionately and says “My English wrong.” And many more wonderful people.
What I liked about it: Writing content that is colorful, witty, not strictly dictated by a style guide. All the fantastic people I got to meet. And their office parties were pretty wild too)
What I hated about it: This is gonna sound awful, but I was feeling more high-brow when I was a tech writer.
Back to Tech Writing
Two months passed very quickly, and when it was time for me to go back to technical writing, I was at a loss. The colleague who transferred with me decided to stay in marketing. That was probably the wisest career move she made. She turned out to be a remarkable and successful Google-certified marketing specialist who later became the head of marketing in an IT company. But I returned to tech writing because in my mind it was the right thing to do. Besides, there was already a commercial project waiting for me, where I was writing API documentation, describing system architecture, characteristics and databases. But the more I worked, the more I grew sick of it, mainly because no one gave a tiny rat’s ass about what I did. Here’s a real conversation: “I don’t know how to do that.” “It’s written in the documentation on Confluence.” “We have documentation on Confluence?” The worst part? He was one of the TWO developers I was writing it for!
Dull, unappreciated work and girls from marketing, who bombarded me with “When are you coming back?” every time we met in the hall, did their job — I was ready to leave tech writing for marketing for good.
What I liked about it: The technical details I learned on the project made me feel super smart. Plus, I was working on the same project as my husband.
What I hated about it: No one read what I wrote, which made my work pointless.
Hello Again, Marketing
Finally, a whole year after I left marketing for the first time, I was a rightful member of the Dream Team. My euphoria lasted for only two days, though, since on the third day Marina, the head of marketing and one of the most active people who wanted me in the team, told us she was quitting. That was a shock for everybody, since she left the company two days after she broke the news.
The most senior marketer had to replace Marina since there was no time to find a new head of marketing so quickly. And I couldn’t shake the feeling that she didn’t know what to do with me. So, she told me I would be helping one of the other marketers. This girl was new, I haven’t worked with her before, but I’ve heard about her. Previously, she was also a technical writer in our company but she wasn’t in the official tech writing department, which made me be somewhat discreet around her. But as we got to talking, we found out we had tons of things in common! Long story short, she’s now the godmother of my son.
Our primary task was to work with Digital. I was confused: “What’s “Digital”? Isn’t everything we do digital?” But it turned out to be the name of the most innovative, progressive and fun department of our company. I had a blast working with them. The Digital department was the first to experiment with all kinds of cutting-edge tech like smartwatches or VR, and our task was to promote their experiments, pitch them, apply them for various awards (that they often won), etc. I was also the only marketer in charge of our corporate social media presence and developed a promotion strategy for all five of our social media channels. It turned out to be harder than I thought. My takeaway was that to do social media right, it has to be your only job since you won’t have time to do anything else.
Unfortunately, only a few members of the original marketing team still work at that company. Nonetheless, we still try to hang out as often as we can.
What I liked about it: Working on innovative projects. The fact that I had a lot of different types of content to write.
What I hated about it: The pressure of everything to be ready “by yesterday.”
In the next post, I’ll tell you about my experience working in PR: what I liked most about the international IT conference we organized, how we woke up famous and how to make invisible wearable devices. Stay tuned!